Posted by: michaelhanegan | November 17, 2008

Life in the Jesus Way…

I have struggled for some time now with the problem that comes from using terms that while they may express biblically and theologically sound principles automatically become suspect or heretical because of the new and/or unfamiliar vocabulary.

This has certainly been my struggle with the missional conversation. It has begun to take on its own vocabulary:

  • Missio Dei
  • Contextualization
  • Context(s)
  • Liminality
  • Incarnational
  • I’m sure there are at least another 25+ words out there.

My point is this: If the missional life is really the Christian life that has been able to correct some of the “reductionisms” of the Gospel that have resulted from thr Christendom project (did you catch the two special “missional words” in that sentence?!?) then why does it need to be couched in language that causes it to become suspect or ignored?

It is because of this struggle that I want to begin writing and creating a resource and materials under the title…

Life in the Jesus Way

So, if you were to teach a series, write a book, or create some type of resource to help people fulfill their missional identity without ever using the word missional or the other language that is associated with the conversation what would you say?

Here are a couple of initial thoughts as to how I might organize such a resource. Any suggestions would be much appreciated.

Life in the Jesus Way in the Life of Jesus

“…this is why I was sent…” (Understanding the Mission of Jesus)
“…you have heard that it was said, but I say to you…” (The Upside Down Kingdom)
Savior (What is salvation according to the life and teachings of Jesus?)
Servant (The first will be last, and the last will be first.)
Lord (The “Creed” of the Early Church…how this reality shapes all of life)

Life in the Jesus Way in the Life of the People of God (a.k.a. the Church)

The Greatest Commands (as Scot McKnight calls it, The Jesus Creed)
The Mission of the People of God (“…you will be my witnesses…”)
The Witness of the People of God (What is the message we are proclaiming?)
The Fruits of the Spirit
The Body
Our Ongoing Death, Burial, and Resurrection (Romans and “Sanctification”)


These topics are not necessarily in order of importance or organization. What else needs to be included? What approach would you take to creating such a resource? Is it even needed?



  1. The words we use do get in the way sometimes, don’t they?

    Life in the Jesus Way, following in the steps of Jesus, being like Jesus, being Christ-like – while you might need to do a little fleshing out phrases like this are easier for people to grasp.

    You will, however, sound a lot less impressive using them, won’t you?

  2. Yeah but once they are done I can say to them…

    Poof! You’re missional and you didn’t even know it. *evil laugh*

    No seriously, I think part of the reason this conversation hasn’t advanced as far as it could or should is that people are worried about sounding impressive.

    Didn’t they say about Jesus something like, “Who is this kid? He’s just Joseph’s son right?”

    Doesn’t sound all that impressive. Boy were they wrong.

  3. I think it is definitely needed, precisely because of the vocabulary problem you’ve related.

    Movements develop jargon in an attempt to correct what they see as the excesses of prior movements. This has the added consequence of differentiating themselves from those earlier movements. In what might be sensed as a hostile environment (at a conference, visiting an unfamiliar congregation, etc) you hear some of YOUR language and you know you have an ally.

    The harder, more necessary, and (if I might be so bold) indispensable project for the missional conversation is doing the hard work of redefining old language. The last thing we want is to be differentiated from other believers. We cannot choose the easier wrong on this one. That is why, when I’m teaching or speaking, I wrestle to express myself within the confines of the language set I share with my local church.

    Fear is not an option.

  4. I’ve actually heard people argue against going to seminary because the people they’ve known with Masters Degrees or Doctorates seem to come away from school speaking another language.

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