Last weekend I finally got to meet Karina Kreminski in the flesh, fully incarnate you might say, and it has prompted me to lay out where some of my own thinking on Missional Spirituality has led me (given that Missional Spirituality is the focus of the doctorate she is working on). I think its a hugely important topic that I’d like to see more and more people collaborating on. This is a rough draft only and no doubt there are gaps, so think of it as a conversation starter, nothing more.
The religious ambivalence of the average Australian
- The religious stance of many Australians could be described as ambivalent
- Confronted with so many religious choices they have chosen not to choose
- Given this, even Atheism has limited appeal, as this too requires too much conviction
- What results is a consumerist, a la carte approach to ir/religion, where the customer is always right and the only wrong is to have your choices arbitrarily limited by others
- Many of these Australians have a residual Christian identity, but an increasing number don’t
- But either way it is clear that Christ is not central to their path but peripheral at best
The religious intensity of the cultural influencers
- Religious ambivalence is not always shared by cultural influencers
- On the contrary, many on the cutting edge of culture tend to be much more ir/religiously intense – whether we are talking of Atheists or Christians, Muslims or Wiccans
- It is instructive to compare religious adoption curves to technological adoption curves, where innovators and earlier adopters, while fewer in number than the early and late majority, have disproportionate influence
- In short, innovative religious minorities should not be ignored by missional Christians but, on the contrary, recognized as potential bellwethers for cultural change in Australia and beyond
The call for a more Missional Spirituality
- One thing which is common to both the ambivalent majority and (militant Atheists aside) many elements of the innovative minority is an increased emphasis on spirituality.
- It can be argued, however, that neither the Missional movement nor the Charistmatic movement have bequeathed Australian Christians with a fully fleshed Missional spirituality
- The attention of the Missional movement tends to be focussed far more on Church contextualization (ecclesiology) than contextual Spirituality (pneumatology).
- The attention of the Charismatic movement, while focussed firmly on Spirituality (pneumatology), tends to have a “Temple focus” rather than an “Exile” focus, with a tendency to demonize religious others without trying to understand (e.g. when I suggest to Charismatics that they should not just pray “for” Wiccans at a distance but pray “with” them in the midst of their lives the conversation often ends in stunned silence).
- What we need more of is a Spirituality that is “in the world, but not of the world”.
- We need to explore how the spirituality of religious innovators and the religiously ambivalent may serve as alters to the Unknown God (Acts 17), through which we can share our own understanding of the Spirit of God as revealed to us through the Messiah.
- Contextual communication may extend to reworking imported spiritual concepts such as “chi”, “qi”, “energy” and “prana” in more Christ centred and Christ honouring ways to aid mutual understanding (and dare I say it, mutual transformation).
- This implies moving considerably beyond the Celtic revivalism of the NeoMonastic movement, particularly when ministering amongst non-Anglo and globalised-Anglo Australians, though in a complementary manner