I hear the word “missional” from church leaders and workers almost every day. Conversation through email, phone, tweets, Facebook, text, whatever . . . it seems as though everyone who desires for their church to be perceived as relevant in some way is using the word “missional” to describe their latest flurry of activity.
I typically ask, “What do you mean by the description, missional?” Responses often vary from “not attractional” to “others-centered” to “seeking justice” to “home church.” I once even heard the phrase, “ . . . Hip, you know, like postmodern.” What? Really? Friends, missional may involve these things (well, maybe not the hip part) but missional is not merely about changing the way you do church. Missional is about changing (or returning to) the reason why you do church in the first place, if you want to use the “do church” language.
What phrases have you heard to describe missional church?
To be a missional church, then, means that missiology shapes your ecclesiology. Consider the statements of these missional thinkers and doers:
“There is church because there is mission, not vice versa”
“Fundamentally, our mission (if it is biblically informed and validated) means our committed participation as God’s people, at God’s invitation and command, in God’s own mission within the history of God’s world for the redemption of creation.”
“Mission is the people of God intentionally crossing barriers from the church to the nonchurch, faith to nonfaith, to proclaim by word and deed the coming of the Kingdom of God in Jesus Christ; this task is achieved by means of the church’s participation in God’s mission of reconciling people to God, themselves, to each other and to the world, and gathering them into the church through the repentance and faith in Jesus Christ by the work of the Holy Spirit with a view to the transformation of the world as a sign of the coming Kingdom in Jesus Christ.”
(Charles Van Engen)
To be missional, therefore, is to participate in God’s redemptive activity in the world. Doing so, however, cannot simply be viewed pragmatically. It must first be viewed theologically. God is a missionary God and it is out of this attribute that we understand how to effectively serve the children, youth and adults in our church and communities.
In what ways is your faith community participating in the redemptive activity of God?