There is much talk in the American church about being missional. This word implies at least two theological and ecclesiological course corrections. On the one hand, missional hints at moving from church as a â€œclubâ€? for Christians, to church as Christâ€™s body, sent by God to reconcile the world to Himself. On the other hand, missional means moving from missions as an activity in which a few Christians are sent to foreign countries to convert unbelievers, to mission as Godâ€™s most basic purpose, intended for all believers. One definition of missional congregations is “those communities of Christ-followers who see the church as the people of God who are sent on a mission.”
The article is a good read, actually, and goes on to talk a little bit about the emerging church (and Emergent) and then lists characteristics of missional churches before defining some similar but different models of church in an effort to further clarify how missional churches differ from some of the models with which people might be more familiar.
Other highlights include,
These conversations have changed the perspective of the American church on mission, in part by addressing the mission of the American church in America. This movement, then, is as much about ecclesiology and questions about â€œwhat is churchâ€? as it is about missiology.
The emergent and the missional church movements share a conviction that mission is the heart of the church; that the meaning of mission in contemporary American society needs to be recovered; and the need for new manifestations of mission that break free of some traditional models which are either no longer effective, or worse, have become a negative witness.
As we commit to becoming missional churches, we should expect some bumps. Becoming more missional will require “organized abandonment” of some policies and programs that do not align with our mission. There will always be tenacious advocates of any program we either abandon or radically change, and people who will take issue with every dollar diverted in another direction.
To travel this course successfully, church leaders will need a clear vision of where we are headed and why, resolve to stick to decisions, and a strong community among themselves to help deal with the arrows that will fly. But the price we will pay will be worth the goal we are aiming for, a church that is working aggressively to: follow Jesus as Lord; manifest Godâ€™s kingdom to an unbelieving world; and work with the Holy Spirit in drawing people into his kingdom.
Yeah, that’s it, that’s the ticket. I fondly remember attending Urbana 87. I suppose I’m too old now, I doubt they’d still let me in….