"And they devoted themselves to the apostles' teaching and the fellowship,
to the breaking of bread and the prayers. And awe came upon every soul, and many wonders
and signs were being done through the apostles. And all who believed were together and had
all things in common. And they were selling their possessions and
belongings and distributing the proceeds to all, as any had need.
And day by day, attending the temple together and breaking bread in their homes,
they received their food with glad and generous hearts, praising God
and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to their number
day by day those who were being saved." -Acts 2:42-47
Yesterday I posted a tweet asking a simple question: "looking for what your understanding and definition of "missional" is...?" Here is a sampling of some of the responses:
1. "intentional living in all realms of one's life with the reality that Jesus is King over all"2. "living and breathing the gospel to your world, in thought, word, and deed."3. " thinking, acting and panning as one who is reaching out to the other (missional)"4. "missional: In all aspects its fleshing out the great commission."5. "is about engagement of people's cultures and context with the gospel message instead of talking about the "good ole days" of fundamentalism"6. "Having a guiness, listening to U2, smoking a Cuban." (my personal favorite) :-).
I thought these were well stated and helpful. I have also dialogued about this with my friend Ed Stetzer who has been most insightful in his contributions on this subject. The key question I keep getting asked is this: "how does this differ from simply fulfilling the Great Commission?"
Here is my response and I hope it will encourage you to pursue biblical ministry within your church.
1. The Missional Church is not about developing programs, events, classes, etc. for the purpose of attracting nonbelievers to come to church. It is about the "equipping of the saints for the work of the ministry" so that they will go in the confidence of the gospel and the Lord Jesus Christ to the people in their community that the Lord has sovereignly placed them in.
2. The Missional Church is not about corporate strategery, but remaining organic within culture operating from a distinctive biblical worldview as salt and light.
3. The Missional Church is about respecting and understanding nonbelievers "in their unbelief"; and how they function within their homes, work places, and communities. It is also really listening to their views on the hypocrisy of the church, suffering, the problem with evil in the world, and faith experiences from their past.
4. The Missional Church is committed to biblical fidelity and cultural viability. It's the philosophical conviction that for genuine ministry to flourish, one must lead with theology/doctrine and not with pragmatics.
5. The MIssional Church desires to fulfill the Great Commission AND the Two Great Commandments as an act of daily worship in culture, in church, in family.
6. The Missional Church is about remaining true to what the Scripture calls us to do as a church as a sign of our faithfulness to Jesus Christ: proclaiming the gospel; preaching the Word; presenting every man mature in Christ; making disciples; calling people to repentance in Christ; worshipping God; caring for the needs of others; loving our neighbor; etc. And then developing passageways for them to be engaged in service to God and others by using their gifts for the glory of the Lord Jesus Christ in the power of the Holy Spirit.
7. The Missional Church is dedicated to preach repentance and not a feel-good tolerance of values.
8. The Missional Church is counter-cultural, but not culturally absent. In the world; not of the world.
9. The MIssional Church is the city of God within the city of Man.
10. The MIssional Church is wholly monergistic, not synergistic; complimentarian, not egalitarian.
11. The Missional Church is dedicated to the propagation of the gospel of Jesus lived vs. the gospel of capitalism. the gospel of self-esteem, the gospel of seeker-sensitivity, or the gospel of political-works-righteousness lauded.
12. The Missional Church is modeling the Pauline mandate to "become all things to all men" without compromising life, witness, doctrine, or gospel.
13. The MIssional Church teaches that all saints are to use their Spirit given giftedness as stewards of the manifold grace of God, for the advancement of His Kingdom, in the power of the Holy Spirit, by His Word, for the service of others, culminating in the praise and glory of the Lord Jesus Christ.
14. The MIssional Church embraces the dignity of all men as created in the image of God by caring for the poor, the widow, the orphan, and all hurting, sick and disadvantaged under this banner: His holiness not compromised; yet His mercy not restrained.
15. and The Missional Church is resolved to living daily in presence of the glory of God in all things.
(this list is not extensive, but a starting point for discussion and thought)