Leading, Ministry, Missional Living

Prologue to Missional Discussions

David Fitch once said that most missional thought leaders “emphasize incarnational forms of church over attractional; the church as Missio Dei over mission as program; organic forms of missionary living in neighborhoods over ministry set in a building.” Yet many others seem to add the term to the current program they are attempting to promote or make cool sounding. As Ed Stetzer noted, “The word missional is used to bludgeon legalism and antinomianism alike. To some it is a sign of freedom from all established forms of the church and to others it is a degeneration into syncretism with the world.”

So, do we abandon the term and move on? Not yet, because the concept behind missional is really big and words help us when we can agree on their definitions— or at least we can agree what we mean when we use a word.

Over the next few weeks, we want to discuss how “missional” happens in our lives and in the life of the church. It will be discussed here as well as at other places including the blogs listed below. As the conversation moves forward, we hope you will move from blog to blog and offer insights from the scriptures and how you see missional happening in your local community.

By doing this, we can all be a part of a specific missional conversation. As many of you know, there are several working toward a “Missional Manifesto” that will be rolled out as a part of the missionSHIFT conference on July 12-15. The intent with the manifesto is to say, “This is what we mean when we talk about being missional.”  It is not the manifesto’s intent (or within its ability) to say this is what everyone should think or say about the term, but reflects a hope that it will help us all be clearer and more mission-shaped in our own thinking and practice.

Conversation on the grassroots level is important, so be sure to join in here and at the other blogs and let’s see where God take us.  Here is the team that will be leading the conversation:

Rick Meigs: The Blind Beggar
Bill Kinnon: kinnon.tv
Brent Toderash (Brother Maynard): Subversive Influence
David Fitch: Reclaiming the Mission
Tiffany Smith:  Missional Mayhem
Jared Wilson: The Gospel-Driven Church
Jonathan Dodson: Creation Project

For me,  missional means to live “sent” – to view the world through the lenses of a missionary while at the same time living a lifestyle of being on mission wherever your beautiful feet take you.  Of course, there are various interpretations of methodology and strategy… but, that will always be the case due to the very nature of missions. 
 
God’s heart is for the nations… therefore, my heart should be for the nations as well.  I pray for this.  I ask God to create in me a pure heart that reflects His desire to reach the nations for His glory.  Lord, help me to embody a missional heart and  life as an ambassador for Christ Jesus. 
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8 thoughts on “Prologue to Missional Discussions”

  1. The primary apparent flaw with the missionSHIFT missional manifesto conference is the grossly over-representation of white, male, middle-class, American clergy of the church planting variety. So many voices are not represented. Women, non-Americans, the poor, sexual minorities, other types of ministers (hospital & prison chaplains, people who work with children, the homeless, in hospice, college ministries.) The result is destined to be much of the same unless we open up the table to the full body of Christ.

    Look at the early church one of the first converts to Christianity was a surgically altered, gender-variant, rich civil servant from Africa (the Ethiopian Eunuch) who went home w/ Good News and to this day a church traces its roots to that person. Radical inclusion. New Wine in New Wine Skins.

    1. I completely agree with you. I like your idea of radical inclusion. That is my heart as well. The body of Christ is so diverse… as is the mission field. Personally, I also desire to see more of a mosaic of diversity in this missional conversation. My prayer is that the Lord will draw together His people from all nations and walks of life to encourage and equip one another as we engage the world missionally.

      1. How refreshing to hear. I believe the Lord and the Spirit are willing, but perhaps the flesh (as in the flesh and blood organizers of missionSHIFT) may not. If not, they will find themselves more and more redundant and irrelevant. I hope they have ears to hear.

  2. Tiffany, glad you’re part of the conversation.

    A definion of missional I often say (and I posted this on a couple of the blogs) is that missional describes what happens when you and I replace the “come to us” invitations with a “go to them” life. A life where “the way of Jesus” informs and radically transforms our existence to one wholly focused on sacrificially living for him and others and where we adopt a missionary stance in relation to our culture. It speaks of the very nature of the Jesus follower.

  3. Thankful for the discussion. Sorry to join in late. Been out of the country.

    My suggestion would be that missional is a fine word. Like any other word, it is heard and understood within the framework of the one hearing it, just as it is spoken from the framework of the one who is speaking it. Thus, what may be intended to be communicated by one is understood differently by the other. Therefore, we need to be extra careful in how we use it and extra specific to define terms within our conversations, especially among those with whom we have not had previous relationship.

    Another suggestion – Jesus said pretty clearly in John 13 that what is attractional about His church is their love for one another. What “form” the church takes on shold have more to do with the daily than simply the style of one day a week or one week a year for “missions.” The form of the church is people, and the function is alive in their daily lives, tasted there. How people connect then with His church varies in various contexts, but I would suggest that Jesus intended that connection to be defined by relationship rather than event. So, may we spend less time creating attractional events and more time challenging people to live attractive lives.

    For what it’s worth…
    -jason c dukes
    LiveSent.com

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