I have recently started re-reading Bonhoeffer’s little book Life Together with a few friends. This book was the result of the time Bonhoeffer spent with a group of renegade pastors meeting in a secret seminary during WWII. As members of what was called the “Confessing Church” they shared their lives in prayer, study and work for the sake of being faithful witnesses to Christ in Nazi Germany.
I hadn’t thought of Dietrich Bonhoeffer as a missional thinker per se but his opening comments about the nature of the church are worthy of attention. As with all of his writings he is thinking about the intersection of God with the world. This is kind of thinking is missional to the core.
It is not simply to be taken for granted that the Christian has the privilege of living among other Christians. Jesus Christ lived in the midst of his enemies. At the end all his disciples deserted him. … So the Christian, too, belongs not in the seclusion of the cloistered life but in the thick of foes. There is his commission, his work.
“I will sow them among the people: and they shall remember me in far countries.” (Zech. 10:9) According to God’s will Christendom is a scattered people, scattered like seed “into all the kingdoms of the earth.” (Deut. 28:25) That is its curse and its promise. God’s people must dwell in far countries among the unbelievers, but it will be the seed of the Kingdom in all the world. – Life Together, pg. 17-18
“That is its curse and its promise.” Bonhoeffer hits on something that many of us have experienced and all of who want to follow Christ by living missionally will encounter. Following Jesus into the world necessarily involves risk. Participating in the missio Dei puts us in danger of getting dirty, experiencing deprivation and dissapointment.