The foremost concern of the praxis stream is being missional. What does this mean? First, the emerging movement becomes missional by participating, with God, in the redemptive work of God in this world. In essence, it joins with the apostle Paul in saying that God has given us “the ministry of reconciliation” (2 Cor. 5:18).
Second, it seeks to become missional by participating in the community where God’s redemptive work occurs. The church is the community through which God works and in which God manifests the credibility of the gospel.
Third, becoming missional means participating in the holistic redemptive work of God in this world. The Spirit groans, the creation groans, and we groan for the redemption of God (see Rom. 8:18-27).
This holistic emphasis finds perfect expression in the ministry of Jesus, who went about doing good to bodies, spirits, families, and societies. He picked the marginalized up from the floor and put them back in their seats at the table; he attracted harlots and tax collectors; he made the lame walk and opened the ears of the deaf. He cared, in other words, not just about lost souls, but also about whole persons and whole societies.
I’ve written much on the importance of our being “missional,” and this is a pretty good definition of the term. Let me try saying things in a more Church of Christ vocabulary.
* We are called by God to be evangelistic — by being personally evangelistic and by sending missionaries. But we are also called to be benevolent. We are to each have a heart for the poor and needy, reflected in our lives, and our churches are to be outposts of God’s blessings to the lost and hurting of the world.
When our churches turn inward and serve only our members, we deny the gospel. When our churches find the comfort of the saved more important than the souls of the lost, we deny the gospel. In short, being missional in this sense is simply to live the gospel — and, no surprise, to live as Jesus lived, caring so much for hurting people that we heal, feed, and bring God’s forgiveness to them out of an overwhelming compassion.
* We must be the church, that is, the church that God calls us to be. Living missionally is both an individual and corporate commitment. We dare not attempt this alone. And part of this is turning our churches into communities of the Kingdom — places where people live together as described in Romans 12 and 1 Corinthians 13. You know, the great love chapter of 1 Corinthians 13 is not about marriage — it’s about congregational living.
* Finally, missional living means living God’s will for his creation. We don’t necessarily adopt every opinion of the national environmental groups, but neither do we ignore the environment, figuring it will all burn in the end. It will, but in the meantime, we are called to tend God’s garden for the sake the men and women who live in it and who will live in it. Regardless of the attitudes of the Republican Party, Christians should care — and care deeply — about the environment. It is, after all, God’s creation and a part of God’s self-revelation.