Cape Town Missional Thinkers: Stephen Murray

This is the start of a new irregular series that I am planning, getting to know some missional thinkers in Cape Town.  Trying to get some conversation and interaction going.  Perhaps we will even branch out into hearing what is going on the rest of SA.  So our first missional thinker/practitioner is Stephen Murray:

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1. Describe who you are in ten words or less

Christian, husband to Robin, church planter, reformed-missional (economical 2 words to spare)

2. Describe your current missional context

My current context is the Atlantic Seaboard of Cape Town city (so Sea Point, Green Point, Fresnaye, Three Anchor Bay, Bantry Bay, De Waterkant and we also venture a bit into the city too). It is one of the most diverse, cosmopolitan areas in South Africa (if not the most). Pretty much every minority community under the sun lives here as well as a big section of young creative professionals who want to be near the life of the city. The area is both highly spiritual and pluralistic on the one hand and religious yet cynical on the other. This community obviously provides heaps of opportunities to build relationships, to bless and to contribute to the bettering of the city in general. People love and celebrate life here in all its diversity.

3. How would you define “missional church”?

In my understanding the missional church is the church that adopts a missionary stance towards the surrounding culture of their given context. They ask missiological questions about how to bring the gospel story of Jesus and earth it in their community and then they go and try and act on the answers yielded.

4. How are you working out what it means to be missional in your context?

We’re spending a lot of time firstly trying to understand the people who live here. So we spend time in the various social establishments in the area building relationships and asking questions about life on the Atlantic Seaboard, hopes, dreams, fears etc. To be honest that part never really ends, its not like we stop asking those questions ever. At the same time we’re trying to figure out what it means to bless the city and so far we’ve come up with two things. We want to be instruments of justice and mercy for those who cannot act or speak for themselves so we want to be involved in the lives of people that normally would not be our social peers (given that our core team is made up primarily of young professionals). Secondly, however, we also want to be involved in culture making with our social peers by supporting local business and contributing to the arts in various ways. We want this blessing and cultural engagement to always take place within the context of Christian community and so our first port of call was to provide two such communities with the above vision.

All of this is born out of our conviction that the grand story of scripture, of God’s acting decisively in this world through the person of Jesus Christ, is the story that needs to direct our living and be spread to others as we proclaim it and live consistently with it in community. So we bless because of the blessing we have received in Christ, we administer mercy because of the mercy we have received in the gospel etc.

The practical out workings of these convictions are really at their infant stage at the moment, but our groups are beginning to meet the people on their turf, build relationships and bless the community in a number of exciting and creative ways.

5. What are you hoping will be unique about Point Community Church?

I guess my biggest hope is that we will faithfully combine uncompromising proclamation with real messy, down to earth engagement with people and communities. I’d love our relationships to be marked by love, kindness, openness and inclusion yet at the same time gently yet forcefully (I know that sounds like a contradiction but I don’t think it is) demand that people surrender their stories to the story of Jesus.

6. Who have you read/listened to that has challenged or shaped your thinking about church and mission?

Tim Keller has probably been my biggest influence when it comes to understanding the gospel and using missionary insight to make the story of Christ known in culturally faithful ways without compromising the essential message. I’ve also benefited a whole lot from Steve Timmis and Tim Chester with regards to developing authentic community that is saturated in the gospel. Besides these three guys I’ve had a lot of interaction with a number of different Acts 29 pastors in the States, some who I’ve met and some who I’ve only connected with online. Those connections have provided some helpful discussions which have helped me to think through a number of things.

7. Tag any other missional thinker in Cape Town/South Africa that you would like to hear from next

I’d like to tag Paul Schoenfeld – I know he’s thinking through a whole lot of things at the moment and how to transition his church to a more missional stance. I want a progress report 😉 (we are sending him an e-mail as you read this)

You can find Stephen blogging more about missional thinking, church-planting, community and culture in Cape Town, South Africa and Africa here.

Check out Point Community Church’s website here.

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~ by John on April 3, 2009.

5 Responses to “Cape Town Missional Thinkers: Stephen Murray”

  1. Great interview! Thanks for posting it. Stephen is a great guy, it is wonderful to gain a few fresh insights into his ministry and theology.

    Rich blessing,

    Dion

  2. […] approaches to ministry here in Cape Town, South Africa. Kicking off the series he decided to interview yours truly. Hopefully this might be something of a window into missional conversations here in South Africa […]

  3. Thanks for kicking off this interview series. I think its a great idea to give us a better understanding of ministry in our context. Praying that God will use the point mission to show his glory in our beautiful city.

  4. So Chris, does that mean you are up for an interview? guest blog? whatever?

    For that matter – anyone else?

  5. […] 7. Cape Town Missional Thinkers: Stephen Murray […]

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