June 20, 2024


It is not uncommon to hear comments that theologians are ivory tower theorists or that missionary practitioners are rabid pragmatists. Such mudslinging is unproductive.

Dr. Gailyn Van Rheenen developed what he calls the ‘Missional Helix’ in 2002 on his website. It is also described in detail in chapter 13 of Gailyn Van Rheenen with Anthony Parker, Missions: Biblical Foundations and Contemporary Strategies, 2nd Ed, Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2014. The Missional Helix joins theology and practice together in the process of ministry formation. The authors describe the process, “Ministry formation can be seen as a spiral. The coils turn round and round, passing the same landmarks, but always at a slightly different level. This spiral, a helix, is descriptive of the process of effective ministry formation.” (Van Rheenen and Parker, p. 308)The Helix moves from theological reflection to cultural analysis to historical perspective to strategy formation, all in the context of spiritual formation. I will not go into detail in this blog post but refer you to Van Rheenen’s blog where he is currently discussing the Missional Helix.

The Missional Helix is a helpful tool in keeping theology and practice together. Of course any tool is subject to abuse but the authors clearly state that, “Theological reflection is the beginning point for ministry formation and the most significant element within the internal structure of the spiral. All missiological decisions must be rooted both implicitly and explicitly in biblical theology in order to mirror the purposes and mind of God.” (Van Rheenen and Parker, 311) So, I encourage you to check out Dr. Van Rheenen’s blog and consider practicing the “Missional Helix”.

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