Toward a missional soteriology of discipleship: advancing the witness of the Ecclesia Church Network in Post-Christendom
Salvation is central to the Church’s identity, yet its nature is seldom discussed in local contexts. Moreover, when it is discussed, its relationship to discipleship is ambiguous at best or completely unrelated at worst. At the same time, in the unraveling of Christendom in the West, the doctrine of the missio Dei has been influential in helping the Church to revisit a number of theological concepts, especially a theology of the Church -- ecclesiology. The interest of this project was therefore the exploration and articulation of a soteriological vision rooted in the missio Dei and its relevance for discipleship. The fields of missio Dei/theology of mission, missional ecclesiology, and Anabaptist theology were chosen because of their shared relevance to the issues in view and the Ecclesia Network. The result of this dimension of the project was a missional soteriology of discipleship distinguished by its participational, communal, and (re)creational characteristics.
More than simply wanting to develop a new missiological theory, however, the concern of this project was for the contextual implications of such a vision for the Church in North America. The Ecclesia Church Network was chosen as a context for field research as a particular, networked expression of the Church that sees mission, the missio Dei, as central to its identity. Through the use of research methods that engaged the Ecclesia at organizational, pastoral, and local church levels, a theological ethnography was developed and used as a basis for the formulation of contextual proposals related to the missional soteriology of discipleship that emerged. These proposals include ways for Ecclesia to raise the issue of soteriology, the possibility of published resources, launching communities of practice, developing a praxis-based curriculum, and the creation of an online platform for use across the network. In each case, these proposals were set forth as strategic ways to advance the witness of Ecclesia from the perspective of a missional soteriology of discipleship.
Dr. Wilbert Shenk
Doctor of Missiology
Ecclesia Church Network (Grantham, Pa.); Missional church movement; Salvation; Discipling (Christianity); Mission of the church
Missions and World Christianity
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