Book | Missional Church edited by Darrell Guder

missional churchMissional Church: A Vision for the Sending of the Church in North America. Edited by Darrell L. Guder. Grand Rapids, MI: W.B. Eerdmans Pub., 1998.


Darrell L. Guder

Lois Barrett

Inagrace T. Dietterich

George R. Hunsberger

Alan J. Roxburgh

Craig Van Gelder


Darrell Guder

guderis Princeton Theological Seminary’s Henry Winters Luce Professor of Missional and Ecumenical Theology. He received his Ph.D. from the University of Hamburg. As an ordained Presbyterian minister, he served as a student outreach pastor and as a faculty member of the Karlshohe College in the German Lutheran Church. His writing and teaching focus on the theology of the missional church, especially the theological implications of the paradigm shift to post-Christendom as the context for Christian mission in the West. He has served as secretary-treasurer of the American Society of Missiology (ASM) and was president of the ASM from 2007–2008. His scholarly translations include Otto Weber, Foundations of Dogmatics (2 vols.); Eberhard Jüngel, God as the Mystery of the World; Karl Barth, The Theology of the Reformed Confessions (with Judith Guder; Eberhard Busch), and The Great Passion: An Introduction to the Theology of Karl Barth (with Judith Guder).[1]

Lois Barrett

barrettAnabaptist Mennonite Biblical Seminary

  • Professor of Theology and Anabaptist Studies
  • Associate Director, Institute of Mennonite Studies
  • Director, AMBS-Great Plains

“Theological education is for the purpose of serving the church. And serving the church involves understanding the nature of the church and the mission in which God sends the church. The church is the people of God, an alternative community with another set of allegiances and another set of practices from the dominant culture. As such, the church is to be light to the world, a city on a hill, a sign of the future God intends for the whole world.”

The nature of the church has been a long-standing interest for Lois Barrett in her research and writing about house churches, missional ecclesiology, and early Anabaptist religious and cultural history. Before joining the faculty in 2002, she was a denominational mission executive and as a pastor of an urban congregation. Her role as an AMBS administrator and instructor in Kansas and Indiana calls out the best of Lois’s gifts of teaching, administration, and empowering people for leadership in the church.[2]

Inagrace T. Dietterich


Inagrace T. Dietterich, Ph.D.,
Director of Theological Research

An ordained minister of the Iowa Conference, The United Methodist Church, Inagrace has done research and writing which form the theological foundations for the Center’s work. She has a Ph.D. in Christian Theology from the University of Chicago Divinity School, and degrees from the University of Iowa and Wartburg Theological Seminary. Inagrace is Director of Theological Research for the Center. She is the author of a range of significant and rich Bible study resources that cultivate God’s people in their missional calling.[3]

George R. Hunsberger

hunsbergerGeorge Hunsberger came to Western in 1989. He was the coordinator of the Gospel and Our Culture Network in North America from its beginning in 1987 through 2010, and has served as both

secretary-treasurer and president of the American Society of Missiology.

Dr. Hunsberger is an ordained minister in the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), he has been a campus minister; a pastor; a missionary team leader in Nairobi, Kenya; and a teacher at Belhaven College. He has also contributed many articles and reviews to missiological, Reformed, and Presbyterian journals.[4]

 Alan J. Roxburgh

alan-roxburghAlan Roxburgh is a pastor, teacher, writer and consultant with more than 30 years experience in church leadership, consulting and seminary education.  Alan has pastored congregations in a small town, the suburbs, the re-development of a downtown urban church and the planting of other congregations.  He has directed an urban training center and served as a seminary professor and the director of a center for mission and evangelism.  Alan teaches as an adjunct professor in seminaries in the USA, Australia and Europe.  His books include: Reaching a New Generation, Leadership, Liminality and the Missionary Congregation, Crossing the Bridge: Leadership in a Time of Change, The Sky is Falling – Leaders Lost in Transition, The Missional Leader (co-authored with Fred Romanuk), Introducing the Missional ChurchMissional Map Making and Missional: Joining God in the Neighborhood.  He was also a member of the writing team that authored Missional Church: A Vision for the Sending of the Church in North America.

Through The Missional Network, Alan leads conferences, seminars and consultations with denominations, congregations and seminaries across North America, Asia, Europe, Australia and the UK.  Alan consults with these groups in the areas of leadership for missional transformation and innovating missional change across denominational systems.  Along with the team at TMN, he provides practical tools and resources for leaders of church systems and local congregations.

When not traveling or writing, Alan enjoys mountain biking, hiking, cooking and hanging out with Jane and their five grandchildren as well as drinking great coffee in the Pacific North West.[5]

Craig Van Gelder

van_gelder_craig“At age 15, Craig Van Gelder made a personal profession of faith. Three years later as a freshman in college, he answered a call to Christian ministry. Since then he has focused on helping the church participate fully in God’s mission to bring salvation to all of life.

Following college, Van Gelder worked with The Navigators for 10 years in campus and discipleship ministries throughout the South. Then he changed focus and spent a decade working as a consultant to congregations, helping with strategic planning, organizational development and needs assessment.

An ordained minister in the Christian Reformed Church, Van Gelder holds Ph.D. degrees in both missiology and urban affairs. He came to Luther Seminary from Calvin Theological Seminary where he spent 10 years as Professor of Domestic Missiology.

He describes his current role as “bringing congregations into a conversation with theological education.” One way he does this is through “Reading the Audiences,” a course rooted deeply in congregational practices. He leads students to think holistically about the essentials of ministry: learning the story, interpreting and confessing the message, and leading in mission.

Van Gelder also administers a major seminary initiative, “Learning Congregational Leadership in Context.” Funded by a grant from Lilly Endowment, Inc., the project aims to increase the involvement of students with congregations. Faculty and pastors will help students reflect theologically about congregational life. Participants will examine Scripture, church history or other course material from the perspective of the congregation.

“We want to shape students’ theological imagination and their self-image as vision leaders,” Van Gelder says. “We want them to grasp the essence of who we are — the body of Christ, the communion of saints — and to understand that in this culture the church is the only institution that has both the mandate and the power to be a reconciling force in society. The church has to be on the mission’s edge — it’s part of our very nature.”[6]

The four Theologians in conversation with this project:

Justo Gonzales

gonzalesJusto L. González (born August 9, 1937) is a Cuban-American Methodist historian, theologian, a prolific author, and an influential contributor in the development of Latino/Latina [Hispanic] theology.


Justo L. González was born in Cuba on August 9, 1937, attended United Seminary in Cuba, received his M.A. from Yale, and then went on to receive his Ph.D. He was the youngest person to be awarded the historical theology doctorate at Yale.


González taught at the Evangelical Seminary of Puerto Rico for eight years, followed by another eight years at Candler School of Theology of Emory University in Georgia. Now retired, he also served as adjunct professor of history at Columbia Theological Seminary in Decatur, Georgia and at the Interdenominational Theological Center in Atlanta, Georgia. He is also a retired member of the Rio Grande Conference of The United Methodist Church.

He is a leading voice in the growing field of Hispanic theology,[1] comparable to such figures as Virgilio Elizondo, Orlando Costas,[2] and Ada Maria Isasi-Diaz. González is one of the few first generation Latino theologians to come from a Protestant background. (See list of Hispanic theologians.) With Mexican-American United Methodist minister Roy Barton, González helped found the first academic journal related to Latino/a theology, Apuntes published by the Mexican American Program of Perkins School of Theology at Southern Methodist University.[3] He also helped to found the Association for Hispanic Theological Education, for which he has twice served as Executive Council Chair.[4] He was the first Director of the Hispanic Summer Program[5] and helped found the Hispanic Theological Initiative.[6]

A festschrift has been published for him: Hispanic Christian Thought at the Dawn of the 21st century: Apuntes in Honor of Justo L. González, edited by Alvin Padilla, Roberto Goizueta, Eldin Villafañe (Nashville: Abingdon Press, 2005) with contributions from Roman Catholic and Protestant Latina and Latino theologians, historians, and biblical scholars.

Justo González is the main narrator for the video lessons of the Christian Believer study course from Cokesbury publishing.[7]

Douglas John Hall

hallDouglas John Hall is emeritus Professor of Theology at McGill University in Montreal, Quebec. Among the most widely read theologians in North America, Hall has written many popular and acclaimed works, including Lighten Our Darkness (1976), God and Human Suffering (1987), and Why Christian? (1998), as well as a full-scale trilogy in systematic theology: Thinking the Faith (1991), Professing the Faith (1996), and Confessing the Faith (1998), all from Fortress Press.

Stanley Hauerwas

Stanley HauerwasProfessor Hauerwas has sought to recover the significance of the virtues for understanding the nature of the Christian life. This search has led him to emphasize the importance of the church, as well as narrative for understanding Christian existence. His work cuts across disciplinary lines as he is in conversation with systematic theology, philosophical theology and ethics, political theory, as well as the philosophy of social science and medical ethics. He was named “America’s Best Theologian” by Time magazine in 2001. Dr. Hauerwas, who holds a joint appointment in Duke Law School, delivered the prestigious Gifford Lectureship at the University of St. Andrews, Scotland in 2001.

His book, A Community of Character: Toward a Constructive Christian Social Ethic,“was selected as one of the 100 most important books on religion of the 20th century. Dr. Hauerwas recently authored Matthew: Brazos Theological Commentary on the Bible, (Grand Rapids: Brazos Press, 2006) and The State of the University: Academic Knowledges and the Knowledge of God, (Oxford: Blackwell Publishing, 2007).[8]

John Howard Yoder

yoder(December 29, 1927 – December 30, 1997) was an American theologian and ethicist best known for his defense of Christian pacifism. His most influential book was The Politics of Jesus, which was first published in 1972. Yoder was Mennonite and wrote from an Anabaptist perspective. He spent the latter part of his career teaching at the University of Notre


Yoder earned his undergraduate degree from Goshen College where he studied under the influence of Mennonite theologian Harold S. Bender.[1] He completed his Th.D. at the University of Basel, Switzerland, studying under Karl Barth, Oscar Cullman, Walther Eichrodt, and Karl Jaspers. Anecdotally true to form, the night before he was to defend his dissertation on Anabaptism and Reformation in Switzerland, Yoder visited Barth’s office to deliver an entirely different document: a thorough critique of Barth’s position on war which he had written in the meantime called Karl Barth and the Problem of War.[citation needed]

After World War II, Yoder traveled to Europe to direct relief efforts for the Mennonite Central Committee. Yoder was instrumental in reviving European Mennonites following World War II. Upon returning to the United States, he spent a year working at his father’s greenhouse business in Wooster, Ohio.

Yoder began his teaching career at Goshen Biblical Seminary. He was Professor of Theology at Goshen Biblical Seminary and Mennonite Biblical Seminary (the two seminaries that formed Anabaptist Mennonite Biblical Seminary) from 1958 to 1961 and from 1965 to 1984. While still teaching at Associated Mennonite Biblical Seminary, he also began teaching at the University of Notre Dame, where he became a Professor of Theology and eventually a Fellow of the Institute for International Peace Studies.

Yoder’s personal papers are housed at the Mennonite Church USA Archives.


Yoder is best remembered for his work related to Christian ethics. Rejecting the assumption that human history is driven by coercive power, Yoder argued that it was rather God—working in, with, and through the nonviolent, non-resistant community of disciples of Jesus—who has been the ultimate force in human affairs. If the Christian church in the past made alliances with political rulers, it was because it had lost confidence in this truth.

He called the arrangement whereby the state and the church each supported the goals of the other Constantinianism, and he regarded it as a dangerous and constant temptation. Yoder argued that Jesus himself rejected this temptation, even to the point of dying a horrible and cruel death. Resurrecting Jesus from the dead was, in this view, God’s way of vindicating Christ’s unwavering obedience.

Likewise, Yoder argued, the primary responsibility of Christians is not to take over society and impose their convictions and values on people who don’t share their faith, but to “be the church.” By refusing to return evil for evil, by living in peace, sharing goods, and doing deeds of charity as opportunities arise, the church witnesses, says Yoder, to the fact that an alternative to a society based on violence or the threat of violence has been made possible by the life, death, resurrection and teachings of Jesus. Yoder claims that the church thus lives in the conviction that God calls Christians to imitate the way of Christ in his absolute obedience, even if it leads to their deaths, for they, too, will finally be vindicated in resurrection.

In bringing traditional Mennonite convictions to the attention of a wider critical audience, Yoder reenergized stale theological debates over foundational Christian ecclesiological, Christological, and ethical beliefs. (Following Barth,) Yoder rejected Enlightenment presuppositions, epitomized by Kant, about the possibility of a universal, rational ethic. Abandoning the search for a universal ethic underlying Christian and non-Christian morality, as well as attempts to “translate” Christian convictions into a common moral parlance, he argued that what is expected of Christians, morally, need not be binding for all people. Yoder defended himself against charges of incoherence and hypocrisy by arguing for the legitimacy of moral double standards, and by pointing out that since world affairs are ultimately governed by God’s providence, Christians are better off being the Church, than following compromised moral systems that try to reconcile biblical revelation with the necessities of governance.

The Politics of Jesus (1972)

Of his many books, the most widely recognized has undoubtedly been The Politics of Jesus; it has been translated into at least ten languages. In it, Yoder argues against popular views of Jesus, particularly those views held by Reinhold Niebuhr, which he believed to be dominant in the day. Niebuhr argued for a Realist philosophy, which Yoder felt failed to take seriously the call or person of Jesus Christ. After showing what he believed to be inconsistencies of Niebuhr’s perspective, Yoder attempted to demonstrate by an exegesis of the Gospel of Luke and parts of Paul’s letter to the Romans that, in his view, a radical Christian pacifism was the most faithful approach for the disciple of Christ. Yoder argued that being Christian is a political standpoint, and Christians ought not ignore that calling.

The Politics of Jesus was ranked by evangelical publication Christianity Today as the 5th most important Christian book of the 20th century.[2]


According to articles in the Elkhart Truth, allegations of sexual misconduct against Yoder circulated for decades and became known in wider Christian circles, but were never publicly acknowledged until 1992.[3] After repeated institutional failures to address these abuses a group of victims threatened to engage in a public protest at a Bethel College conference where Yoder was to be a speaker. The college President rescinded Yoder’s invitation, the student newspaper reported the story, and one of the victims reported that Bethel was “the first institution in the church that has taken this seriously” (Mennonite Weekly Review, March 12, 1992). The Elkhart Truth articles detail an extensive pattern of sexual assaults and harassment of students and others.[3]

From the summer of 1992 to the summer of 1996, Yoder submitted to the discipline of the Indiana–Michigan Conference of the Mennonite Church for allegations of sexual misconduct. Yoder vaguely acknowledged misconduct but suggested that the Mennonite Church had instructed him not to formally apologize to any of his victims (Yoder communicated this to Barbra Graber, a friend of some of the victims). Yoder’s writing in the unpublished 1995 book “The Case for Punishment” suggest he believed he was the innocent scapegoat of a conspiracy. Upon the conclusion of the process, the church urged Yoder “to use his gifts of writing and teaching.”[1]

Selected works

  • The Christian and Capital Punishment (1961)
  • Christ and the Powers (translator) by Hendrik Berkhof (1962)
  • The Christian Pacifism of Karl Barth (1964)
  • The Christian Witness to the State (1964)
  • Discipleship as Political Responsibility (1964)
  • Reinhold Niebuhr and Christian Pacifism (1968)
  • Karl Barth and the Problem of War (1970)
  • The Original Revolution: Essays on Christian Pacifism (1971)
  • Nevertheless: The Varieties and Shortcomings of Religious Pacifism (1971)
  • The Politics of Jesus (1972)[4]
  • The Legacy of Michael Sattler, editor and translator (1973)
  • The Schleitheim Confession, editor and translator (1977)
  • Christian Attitudes to War, Peace, and Revolution: A Companion to Bainton (1983)
  • What Would You Do? A Serious Answer to a Standard Question (1983)
  • God’s Revolution: The Witness of Eberhard Arnold, editor (1984)
  • The Priestly Kingdom: Social Ethics as Gospel (1984)
  • When War Is Unjust: Being Honest In Just-War Thinking (1984)
  • He Came Preaching Peace (1985)
  • The Fullness of Christ: Paul’s Revolutionary Vision of Universal Ministry (1987)
  • The Death Penalty Debate: Two Opposing Views of Capitol Punishment (1991)
  • A Declaration of Peace: In God’s People the World’s Renewal Has Begun (with Douglas Gwyn, George Hunsinger, and Eugene F. Roop) (1991)
  • Body Politics: Five Practices of the Christian Community Before the Watching World (1991)
  • The Royal Priesthood: Essays Ecclesiological and Ecumenical (1994)
  • Authentic Transformation: A New Vision of Christ and Culture (with Glen Stassen and Diane Yeager) (1996)
  • For the Nations: Essays Evangelical and Public (1997)
  • To Hear the Word (2001)
  • Preface to Theology: Christology and Theological Method (2002)
  • Karl Barth and the Problem of War, and Other Essays on Barth (2003)
  • The Jewish-Christian Schism Revisited (2003)
  • Anabaptism and Reformation in Switzerland: An Historical and Theological Analysis of the Dialogues Between Anabaptists and Reformers (2004)
  • The War of the Lamb: The Ethics of Nonviolence and Peacemaking (2009)
  • Christian Attitudes to War, Peace and Revolution (2009)
  • Nonviolence: A Brief History—The Warsaw Lectures (2010)



  1. Missional Church: from Sending to Being Sent
  2. Missional Context: Understanding North American Culture
  3. Missional Challenge: Understanding the Church in North America
  4. Missional Vocation: Called and Sent to Represent the Reign of God
  5. Missional Witness: the Church as Apostle to the World
  6. Missional Community: Cultivating Communities of the Holy Spirit
  7. Missional Leadership: Equipping God’s People for Mission
  8. Missional Structures: The Particular Community
  9. Missional Connectedness: The Community of Communities in Mission


1. Missional Church: from Sending to Being Sent


Based on Newbigin

Five fundamental affirmations as the basis for the vision of missional ecclesiology:

  1. A missional ecclesiology is biblical. The biblical witness is the testimony to God’s mission and the formation of God’s missionary people to be instruments of  and witnesses of that mission.
  2. A missional ecclesiology is historical. We must take into consideration the historical development of other ecclesiologies.
  3. A missional ecclesiology is contextual. Every ecclesiology is developed within a particular cultural context.
  4. A missional ecclesiology is eschatological. Neither the church nor its interpretive doctrine may be static. It is always moving toward God’s promised consummation of all things.
  5. A missional ecclesiology can be practiced, that is, it can be translated into practice. It serves the church’s witness as it “makes disciples of all nations, … teaching them to obey everything that I [Jesus] have commanded you” (Matt. 28:19-20).

2. Missional Context: Understanding North American Culture

Van Gelder


3. Missional Challenge: Understanding the Church in North America

Van Gelder


4. Missional Vocation: Called and Sent to Represent the Reign of God



5. Missional Witness: the Church as Apostle to the World



6. Missional Community: Cultivating Communities of the Holy Spirit


7. Missional Leadership: Equipping God’s People for Mission



8. Missional Structures: The Particular Community



9. Missional Connectedness: The Community of Communities in Mission



[1] (accessed June 12, 2013)

[2] (accessed June 12, 2013)

[3] (accessed June 10, 2013)

[4] (accessed June 10, 2013)

[5] (accessed June 10, 2013)

[6] (accessed June 7, 2013)

[7]ález (accessed June 13, 2013)

[8] (accessed June 13, 2013)

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