Thursday, January 15, 2009

Reformission History

What is the origin of this word, "Reformission"? Where did it come from?

You will not find it defined in any dictionary. The word is a conflation of "Reformation" and "Mission." It is inteded to refer to both the Protestant Reformation of the 16th century as well as the continual reform (that is repentance from our errors) of the present-day Church, and to connect these with the task of a Mission which is local and personal. The earliest usage of the word that I have been able to find in my research has been by Mark Driscoll in his books Radical Reformission" (2004) and Confessions of a Reformission Rev. (2006).

Because of his early involvement with figures such as Dan Kimball and Brian McLaren, and because of his church, Mars Hill, holds a similar method of cultural engagement, some have considered Driscoll part of the "Emerging Church" movement. If one were to consider him part of this movement, however, it must be understood that the "Emerging Church" is not a well-defined movement, but a term broadly used to cover a variety of expressions. Some, using the term "Emergent" have tended toward a modern repackaging classic liberal Christianity. Others, who Driscoll refers to as "Emerging Reformers," have combined a strong doctrinal emphasis (most often Calvinist) with an aptitude for cultural engagement. It is this second expression of the "Emerging" movement which has tended to embrace the term "Reformission".

In Radical Reformission, Driscoll defines "Reformission" as "a radical call to reform the church's traditionally flawed view of missions as something carried out only in foreign lands and to focus instead on the urgent need in our own neighborhoods, which are filled with diverse cultures of Americans who desperately need the gospel of Jesus and life in his church." He goes on to explain reformission in terms of faithfulness to the Gospel, commitment to the Church, and engagement of the Culture.

In light of this history, I would define "Reformission" as an expression of Christianity which is doctrinally faithful, fervently missional, and culturally aware.


  1. Jason, something in the coding, I imagine in your frame definitions, is keeping the URL at when I click other links in the sidebar.

  2. Thanks for the tip. I'll look into that. I registered the domain with, and I think it is something to do with my settings there.

  3. It should be fixed now. uses something called "Domain Masking" which forces the registered domain to appear rather than the actual URL. Let me know if there is still a problem.