Monday, April 02, 2007

Introducing Roxburgh

Stuart's comment about Alan Roxburgh made me think an introduction is in order for those of you who haven't come across him.

Roxburgh is a Canadian Baptist and, I think, one of the key missional church thinkers working today. Author of a number of books - one of which, Crossing the Bridge, is available free, gratis and for nothing at the following website: and is well worth getting into.

The Misisonary Congregation, Leadership and Liminality (Trinity Press International 1997) is essential reading for understanding our calling as ministers who offer missional leadership. The book at just 70 pages is fabulously over-priced and yet curiously worth every penny.

The Sky is Falling: Leaders Lost in Transition (ACI Publishing 2005) is a perceptive and engaging discussion of the nature of the changes we face in culture and church and how leaders could be responding to them. It's available only from the missional website Allelon, where you'll also find a ton of his essays and articles by a range of other stimulating thinkers. You'll find it all at

He's also written - with colleague Fred Romanuk - The Missional Leader: Equipping your church to reach a changing world (Jossey-Bass, 2006 in the Leadership Network series) which I am working my way through at the moment.

There's lots to like about Roxburgh. He's widely and well-read - in particular, he analyses the changing nature of the world we inhabit through business books and sociology texts and not just theologians. He's as likely to cite Beck, Castells, Giddens and Handy as he is Gunton, Hauerwas and Willimon.

But I guess the reason I have warmed to him afresh over recent weeks is his emphasis that those who want the church to change completely and those who created the churches we're mostly all part of need to talk to each other. The church of the future will be an evolution from the church of the present because the church in all times needs to embody core and key Kingdom values.

And he also stresses the need for leaders to look at where God is at work in and on the edge of our congregations so that we might get behind what God's already doing. Often leaders spend their time trying to refocus the congregation, move folk away from what they're doing to things we want them to do. Roxburgh urges us to look and listen and recognise and support what's already happening. Our role becomes one of creating the environment for mission to happen rather than coming up with detailed blueprints for that mission.

Finally, he has an unnerving singularity of vision - something he shares with Michael Frost in his new book Exiles: Living Missionally in a Post-Christian Culture (Hendrickson/Strand 2006). He argues that the conversation about how we get from the old world to the new world is over because whether we like it or not we are living in that new world. Our task is to map its shape and work out how to be church in it. At the same, however, he stresses that the place we find we find ourselves in is not our final destination. this is why the metaphor of liminality recurs in his writings. We are truly people living between times, not just theologically, but also sociologically.

Do check him out.


Stuart Blythe said...

Hi Simon

Thanks for this. Check that link would you - I cannot get it to connect. Cheers. Stuart

simon said...

Thanks Stuart, the link has been modified and now works as it should.