This is eleven in a series of fourteen. In the past fifty years our imagination about what it means to be God’s people has been shaped by imported models and by a variety of traditions, but those traditions themselves have been conditioned by the preachers, leaders, books and churches that have dominated the media. The most prominent of are American “success” mega-churches.
We are now in the intriguing place of recognizing the limits of an imported imagination of ecclesial life, creating a significant vacuum and much anxiety. There are also hopeful signs that the work of theology, and of mission, in place — in THIS place — and the interaction of these two, is being taken with new seriousness by Canadian believers. Thus this series of posts on the work of Canadian authors.
“What does it mean to develop a spirituality that is dispersed into the life we lead seven days a week? What does it mean to move beyond the kind of spirituality that most Western Christians have developed, the kind that Helland and Hjalmarson call “temple spirituality”? In Missional Spirituality, they write, “Temple spirituality is dualistic: Sunday is sacred while Monday through Saturday are secular. Temple spirituality views God as a church-based deity whom we worship once per week, but Jesus was a seven-days-a-week mobile Messiah” (27).
“What sustained Jesus while on mission? Remember the story of Jesus and the woman at the well in John 4. From the perspective of first century Jewish culture, there are several taboos violated in the story. Jesus spoke with a woman in public: forbidden. Jesus accepted water from her: forbidden. Jesus spoke with a Samaritan: a people group considered unclean. His actions preached a message: everything is changing.
“He then announced, ‘Believe me woman, a time is coming when you will worship the Father neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem . . . when the true worshippers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for they are the kind of worshippers the Father seeks.’ So, Jesus announced one of the most revolutionary theological changes ever to a Samaritan woman in public at noonday! That day, she came home to the Father. Many Samaritans also believed and they came home too! The Samaritan woman drank from a spiritual well and became a spiritual spring herself.
“The disciples returned and were surprised to find Jesus talking with this woman in public. Astounded with Jesus, she left her water jar and ventured back to tell her story to the local town folk in Sychar. She became a missionary, telling her story to her own community. The disciples then urged Jesus to eat something. He replied, “I have food to eat that you know nothing about” . . . my food is to do the will of him who sent me and to finish his work” (Jn 4:32-34).
“Jesus then made a missional connection for the disciples, “I tell you, open your eyes and look at the fields! They are ripe for harvest” (Jn 4:35). The word ripe is “white” for harvest. It could have literally referred to the streaming crowd of people dressed in white. Multitudes in Sychar became believers because of the woman’s testimony (vv. 39-41). While on mission through Samaria, Jesus fed on the father’s will and work and this produced a harvest. He invited his followers to enter his work. He connected spirituality and mission.”
Read more of this EXCERPT from the book Missional Spirituality.
Roger Helland and Len Hjalmarson have gifted us with a well-crafted, multidimensional, life-challenging volume in their Missional Spirituality. The excellent scholarship is matched equally with an inspirational voice. The resulting combination is compelling and convicting at the same time. Take time to let this book read you.
-Reggie McNeal, author, The Present Future and Missional Renaissance
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I found myself saying, yes, yes, yes, as I read Missional Spirituality. So many books on spirituality are focused on self-improvement and private pietistic devotion, and they often leave me cold and uninspired. Roger Helland and Len Hjalmarson helpfully reconnect spirituality and mission, believing all truly Christian spiritual formation to be for the sake of world. And they take Jesus as their supreme example, the one who claimed that he was nourished by doing his Father’s will and work. This book is a triumph!
-Michael Frost, author, The Shaping of Things to Come, and The Faith of Leap.
Back in September Jamie Arpin-Ricci of The Little Flowers Community interviewed me on Missional Spirituality.
Previous posts in this “Made in Canada” series:
A Happy Ending, published by The Story in Sarnia, Ontario.
Beautiful Mercy, published by St. Benedict’s Table in Winnipeg.
The Cost of Community, by Jamie Arpin-Ricci in Winnipeg.
Where Mortals Dwell, by Craig Bartholomew in Hamilton
The Missionary Letters of Vincent Donovan, by John Bowen in Toronto
Plunging Into the Kingdom Way, by Tim Dickau in Vancouver
Sacred Space for the Missional Church by Bill McAlpine in Calgary
Post-Charismatic? by Rob McAlpine in Kelowna
Borderland Churches by Gary Nelson, Toronto
Magnificent Surrender by Roger Helland, Calgary