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Missional Theology

An Introduction

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The notion of missional church and theology has become ubiquitous in the current ecclesial and theological landscape. But what is it all about?

In this clear and accessible introduction to missional theology, noted theologian John Franke connects missional Christianity with the life and practice of the local church. He helps readers reenvision theology, showing that it flows from an understanding of the missional character and purposes of God. Franke also explores the implications of missional theology, such as plurality and multiplicity.

1. Missional God
2. Missional Church
3. Missional Theology
4. Missional Multiplicity
5. Missional Solidarity


"For anyone who wants an excellent introduction to missional theology, its beginnings, its theological and biblical underpinnings, as well as insights regarding its future relevance for the church and the world, this volume is a must-read. John Franke offers those new to the missional conversation and those well acquainted with it opportunities to deeply reflect upon and engage (again) the missio Dei--what it has meant for missional theology in the past, including its disastrous interpretations due to whiteness and white supremacy, what it means in the present, and its possibilities for the future as the missional theology movement decenters 'those with power,' widens the circle of voices in the conversation, and comes 'prepared to listen rather than to speak.'"

Lisa Bowens, associate professor of New Testament, Princeton Theological Seminary

"At long last. Theology as traditionally done--by the topics--has been undergoing such changes, shifts, and significant alterations that the topics are no longer what they were. But we have been looking for theologies that treat the great subject matter of Christian theology--God at work redemptively in God's world--to be given a new form. We need a theology where the eschatological design of God reshapes Christian theology into its own image. This is it."

Scot McKnight, professor of New Testament, Northern Seminary

"John Franke weaves together decades of theological reflection, seminary teaching, and pastoral experience in Missional Theology, helping us to recognize the urgency of reconnecting and reconceiving the divided disciplines of not only systematic theology and missiology but also biblical interpretation, epistemology, church history, pastoral ministry, evangelism, and worship. Franke frames the conversation to help us avoid pitfalls and find productive paths forward to better align pastoral education, our congregations, and ourselves with the mission of God, so that 'the intentions of God are realized and made visible in the world.' Taking us beyond theory to application, Franke illustrates the value of missional theology by applying this approach to Christology. His reframing of Christian 'unity' as 'solidarity' is both timely and urgent."

Megan K. DeFranza, visiting researcher, Boston University School of Theology

"This is the book on missional theology we've been waiting for. And John Franke was the one to write it. Franke generously provides his readers with an accessible yet substantive articulation of missional theology--a theology that is characterized by love, shalom, relationality, plurality, openness, liberation, and solidarity. He writes with both wisdom and clarity that only come from years of careful reflection, in-depth study, and irenic conversation on the topic. Amid all the other published works bearing the term 'missional,' this is the definitive introduction to missional theology going forward."

Stina Busman Jost, professor of biblical and theological studies, Bethel University

"With this introduction to missional theology, John Franke presents a 'launching point for further explorations in missional theology,' which he defines as 'an emerging discipline that works at the intersections of practical theology, missiology, and systematic theology.' The launch is successful: the conversation thus far is lucidly summarized and appropriately critiqued. The major themes of the ongoing discussion are laid out as an invitation to join the journey. Franke proposes questions and approaches that move the discussion in constructive and, at times, surprising directions. Those who would prefer to drop the often criticized term 'missional' will discover in Franke's proposals a validation of the approach and its vocabulary. Franke acknowledges that the missional initiative has been 'in the service of congregational formation for witness.' His introduction will stimulate the rigorous theological exploration that will empower that much-needed formation."

Darrell L. Guder, professor of missional and ecumenical theology emeritus, Princeton Theological Seminary

"The magnificence of John Franke's work in this volume is that what he gathers up from a range of voices has become in his hand a virtual manifesto. With depth and breadth, he develops what a missional approach to theology looks like. His own constructive work provides a clear and compelling agenda for all to follow. This book is of major importance for both church and academy."

George R. Hunsberger, professor emeritus of missiology, Western Theological Seminary, Holland, Michigan

"John Franke has emerged as one of the second-generation leaders of missional theology. He builds on his teachers' core commitment that the discipline flows out of systematic theology as well as historical and biblical studies. But as this book demonstrates, he is now bringing missional theology more deeply into congregational life and ministry. This is a much-needed next step for the discipline that could have been provided only by a scholar with the heart of a pastor."

M. Craig Barnes, president, Princeton Theological Seminary

"Just as missional theology is getting hijacked to further pragmatic church growth efforts, John Franke provides this outstanding text that encapsulates his previous work while pressing this theological conversation forward. Missional Theology is accessible, scholarly, and well-balanced in focus. It should be required reading for anyone invested in God's kingdom, where everyone has enough and no one is afraid."

Drew G. I. Hart, assistant professor of theology, Messiah University; author of Who Will Be a Witness? Igniting Activism for God's Justice, Love, and Deliverance

"John R. Franke's Missional Theology--equal parts invitation and manifesto--articulates a revolutionary and profoundly life-giving vision of the nature and task of Christian theology. Building on critical areas of theological and missiological consensus, Franke offers a well-reasoned, accessible, and potentially paradigm-shifting argument for a postmodern and postcolonial understanding of mission--rooted in the very nature of God--as the sine qua non for theological reflection. This thoroughgoing revisioning of mission will challenge those who understand mission primarily in terms of evangelism and global outreach as well as those who find missional language to be hopelessly contaminated by Western imperialism and notions of cultural and religious supremacy. Faithfully biblical, inherently ecumenical, and deeply attuned to what the God of all diversity is doing in the world, Missional Theology merits a wide readership in churches and theological classrooms."

Michael Barram, Saint Mary's College of California; author of Missional Economics: Biblical Justice and Christian Formation

The Author

  1. John R. Franke

    John R. Franke

    John R. Franke (DPhil, University of Oxford) is theologian in residence at Second Presbyterian Church in Indianapolis, Indiana, affiliate professor of theology at Christian Theological Seminary, and general coordinator of the Gospel and Our Culture...

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