Wednesday, December 9, 2009

What is a Missional Church?

As many of you might know, I've had two other blog sites that I've used over the last few years. With the dream of starting a new kind of church now a reality, I will use this site as my primary tool to communicate what God is doing in and through The Mission. The first area of interest we need to address is "Missional". The Missional Church is a relatively new philosophy of "doing" church. The Mission, our new church in Dayton, TN will more than likely align itself with this philosophy. Missional doesn't even seem to be a real word according to my mac's spell check. Regardless, as we set out to "do" church missionally (apparently this is also not a word), we need to be on the same page as to what that is. The following is a little heavy for those A.D.D. types, so now would be a good time to munch down on your attention stimulant of choice.

JR Woodward at Dream Awakener has a perspective on what missional success might look like. Here it is:

* Not simply how many people come to our church services, but how many people our church serves.
* Not simply how many people attend our ministry, but how many people have we equipped for ministry.
* Not simply how many people minister inside the church, but how many minister outside the church.
* Not simply helping people become more whole themselves, but helping people bring more wholeness to their world. (i.e. justice, healing, relief)
* Not simply how many ministries we start, but how many ministries we help.
* Not simply how many unbelievers we bring into the community of faith, but how many ‘believers' we help experience healthy community.
* Not simply working through our past hurts, but working alongside the Spirit toward wholeness.
* Not simply counting the resources that God gives us to steward, but counting how many good stewards are we developing for the sake of the world.
* Not simply how we are connecting with our culture but how we are engaging our culture.
* Not simply how much peace we bring to individuals, but how much peace we bring to our world.
* Not simply how effective we are with our mission, but how faithful we are to our God.
* Not simply how unified our local church is, but how unified is "the church" in our neighborhood, city and world?
* Not simply how much we immerse ourselves in the text, but how faithfully we live in the story of God.
* Not simply being concerned about how our country is doing, but being concerned for the welfare of other countries.
* Not simply how many people we bring into the kingdom, but how much of the kingdom we bring to the earth.

Another way to define what Missional Church is to look at what missionaries have been doing for well over a hundred years. Grossly summarized I'm sure, but it works like this: a person or group gets called by God to a certain area of the globe or people group. Most reputable mission agencies provide significant amounts of language and culture training before a missionary is commissioned and sent out. Then, once on location, there's more language and culture training. You just don't get dropped off in the jungle, run to the nearest village and start preaching. You live among the people. You learn their ways. You learn what they eat, what they wear, and how they interact. You do this because you want relationship with them and you know that your life changing message won't be heard if you are not trusted in the community. You have a calling and a deep love for these people, and you desperately want to share with them your amazing God.

Boy that was a long explanation, but there is a point. America is quickly becoming, and some places already are, post-christian. The American church needs to begin to position itself as not only a sending agent of foreign missions, but radically reshape its mission here. American Christ followers are in desperate need of missions training. Not to go to the jungle, but next door to the neighbors. We need to take the time to learn their culture and language before we begin to preach. We've gotten so used to the "invite them to church and huddle them in to hear relevant messages" mentality that we actually act confused and shocked that folks aren't knocking down the doors to get in anymore. We rarely shop with them, share with them, listen to their music, or live in relationship with them in order to earn the right to be heard. We judge them, tell them what their doing wrong, and alienate them if they ever do get the courage to break the threshold of our churches. In reality, it couldn't be any more opposite from what missionaries do.

So, here's a big missional church question we should ask ourselves: Are we going to live with the community, or preach at the community.

A missional church makes the decision that they have a calling and a deep, deep love for the people surrounding the building's physical location. And, they will stop at nothing to engage these people. The church's staff are mission training specialist constantly educating the congregants about the community's culture. The program is to reach a people group - the only weird thing is that these people group are our neighbors, not some far off "national geographic" people.

Being missional is very different than what today's church practices. It seems everyone is very slow to move away from the "attractional" model of trying to get people in the doors by cool music and a kickin' children's ministry. We don't think those things are bad by the way. We just believe that as we move further into our ever changing culture, the attractional (also not a word) model will be on the wrong side of effective. That's enough to chew on for today... maybe even the whole week. Stay tuned for more info on The Mission by regularly checking this site.




  1. Some great thoughts. It's exciting the hear that you are there and getting started.
    I'm praying for you and will continue to pray as you seek God's leading in all that you do!

  2. I tend to resist buzzwords, but if being "missional" is what those bullet points suggest, then sign me up!

  3. I'm glad. Very glad.

    Do good, Brian and crew!

  4. So I was going to play a trick on you, but Dan wouldn't let me do it. I was going to post a link on my blog, and then tell my readers to come over to the site and leave a bunch of comments that included words and phrases like "heresy," "beyond the bounds of orthodoxy" and "how can you call yourself a Christian?" Just to mess with you.

    So, I guess you owe Dan one. :-)

  5. Rachel,
    Don't send your angry venters over to my site! Thanks Dan! You can't coerce your responders to comment on my blog. They are predestined to do so if they choose... what???