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The following conversation among three colleagues with George R. Hunsberger (GRH) was held in the summer of 1998 to seek from them some insight into the dominant cultural currents that have an impact on the life of the contemporary church. The three come at the question from different vantage points. Kathleen Ponitz (KP) is a senior vice president and director of marketing at Progressive AE, an architectural engineering firm in Grand Rapids, Michigan, that does business with many large churches across the country. Marlin Vis (MV) has served the Southridge Reformed Church, Portage, Michigan, and is now pastor of Beechwood by the Bay Reformed Church in Holland, Michigan. Craig Van Gelder (CVG) is professor of congregational mission at Luther Seminary in St. Paul, Minnesota. He was formerly professor of domestic missiology at Calvin Theological Seminary in Grand Rapids and for more than twenty years has served as a consultant to denominational agencies and hundreds of churches.
But in the way I use the phrase, it has to do with something more at the heart of what it means to be the church. It is not about what ventures the church sends out, but about how the church itself is a "sent" community. It is not about mission as activities, but about mission as the essential character of the church.
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