More on Missional Spirituality

In my last post on missional spirituality I outlined (1) my understanding of the Australian context, (2) where I see some shortfalls in the Christian response, and (3) some pointers for moving forward.

In this post I would like to expand a bit more on the third point.

Missional Spirituality is more than Missional Pneumatology

One model I have found particularly helpful in the process of listening to and engaging with new religious movements and the more religiously ambivalent is Ninian Smart’s Seven Dimensions of Religion.

This model suggests that beyond theology (in this case pneumatology) we also need to consider the narrative, ritual, experiential, social, ethical and material dimensions of (1) non-Christian spiritualities we encounter in our context and (2) how we Spirituality engage with all of these missionally.

In other words, this is not just a task for theologians. It is also a task for poets, pastors, artists, activists and Misisonal churches as a whole, using all their Spiritual gifts.

This opens up a multitude of questions. Here are just a few examples:

  • How can activist thinking on the relationships between spiritual “powers” and transpersonal social “systems” inform our Spiritual understanding and practice? [Social Dimension]
  • What are we to make of the “messageless messengers” that populate postmodern folk tales in the form of angels, aliens, avatars, ghosts, gods, egregores and more? Are there alternatives to just demonizing them? [Narrative Dimension]
  • In what ways do spiritual gifts function beyond sacred spaces, especially where we are guests rather than hosts? Consider healings and meals of Jesus [Ritual Dimension]
  • Do we need to focus more on spiritual fruit, particularly the virtues of patience and humility? [Ethical Dimension]
  • What do we make of trance experience. Trance is mentioned in the Bible you know, by both Peter and Paul, in very missional situations (I’ve copped flak for making such comments before so I wont be surprised if I cop more now) [Experiential Dimension]
  • How can we visually interpret our Spirituality in more contextual but still faithful ways? [Material Dimension]

Again, this is just a conversation starter.

3 thoughts on “More on Missional Spirituality

  1. I could give a few examples.
    I attended a Christian dream interpretation workshop recently where it was suggested that vehicles (cars, bikes, busses, etc) often functioned as symbols for ministry. Not always mind you, but often. Fair enough, I can see how that can be true. But it immediately struck me how off-centre this advise could be for others like me who has been asked for dream interpretations by non-Christians in non-church contexts. Think Daniel. To make this more missional we’d have to drop some church-centric assumptions.
    Some years ago I was witness to God healing a drug-addict friend of gangrene when a mate and I prayed and layed hands over him in hospital. Mind blowing stuff. But he never became a Christian or kicked the drug habit as far as I know, even though he acknowledged through tears that without God he would have lost his arm. Nonphysical healing proved more illusive. I found the story of the ten lepers instructive in processing what happened. It also helped firm up my commitment to do a grad. dip. in Christian counselling. That my prayer partner was not exactly theologically orthodox, yet took the lead role in the healing, also prompted reflection. Are we open to God surprising us, messing with our assumptions, yet running with his promptings any way?
    I wrote a post a number of weeks ago suggesting that, if we take 1 Corinthians 13 seriously, then love is the most “supernatural” power that there is. Yet we are not used to thinking or talking about things this way. In like manner I think we sometimes undervalue our actions in the everyday world.
    Finally, I can’t help thinking about the activity of Jesus, like when he used mud and spit to heal, and revealed the extraordinary to people in very ordinary circumstances. If gifts are for 24/7 then most of the time we should be using them as the church scattered.


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