There’s been a lot of discussion these days regarding churches being “missional.” That’s one of those terms that began to appear a few years ago that sounds really good, but that no one seems to understand. It’s similar to the use of “emergent church.” Sounds good, but no one really gets it.
I wanted to submit this post as a primer on the subject. A very basic one.
Before I do, though, I wanted to address something that you may have been wondering about. I’ve been writing a little, and you’ll continue to see a lot more writing concerning topics that deal with missional church. In case you’re wondering why, check out the “about” section of this blog for more info. But in short, it’s because of a program I started a few months back where I’m studying a lot of missional leadership stuff. I just mention that so you know where all this stuff is coming from. Ok….moving on.
So I was reading an article recently from Alan Roxburgh called “The Missional Church” (you can download it by clicking on the link) in which he seeks to give some basic definitions about what the missional church movement is about. I’ll share just a few of the most basic points.
A missional church…
1. Sees western society as a mission field. This is a big one because, for the most part, most churches and denominations have taken the stance that those around are generally Christian.
“To a large extent modern evangelism was practiced from within a context in which people generally took it for granted that the Christian story was a normative, regulative part of the cultural backdrop within which they lived. Put simply, most folks knew the basic story in one form or another.”
And therein lies the problem, doesn’t it? Many of the methods we use are based upon the premise that we are part of the same culture.
2. Focuses on God’s mission. This sounds like common sense. But this is actually not what’s practiced in most churches. We make our strategic plans that go five years into the future and use strategies, based more upon a business model framework, than on Scripture. So a missional church has as its focus the Missio Dei (God’s Mission). So the first question that is asked in a missional church is, “what is God’s mission and what is He doing in this community?” So it’s not about what I, as the pastor, wants to do, but about what God is already up to in the community.
3. Has a different role for leadership. If the focus is to be on what God’s mission is, then the role of the leader changes from being about leading in a particular direction, to being focused on discernment and hearing from God. This actually takes a lot of pressure off of the leader in one direction. It’s not about you having some great vision and bringing it down the mountain to the people on where your church should go. Instead, it becomes about listening with your people, and seeking glimpses of where God is at work already.
Allow me to share this final quote for you from the article:
“We are not in a situation that requires minor adjustments and course corrections. We’re not in a place where simply planting thousands more churches or changing existing congregations to seeker-driven outlets or developing methodologies for natural church growth, is going to address the massive changes now transforming the landscape of the West. We need to fundamentally rethink our frameworks and paradigms that have shaped the church over the last half-century. The basic stance of denominations and congregations must be transformed to that of missionaries in their own culture. This requires far more than adjustment. It calls for a radically new kind of church.”
So what do you think about what you’ve read concerning the missional church movement? Agree? Disagree?
[image by lost_mitten]