Wednesday, August 05, 2009

WHAT IS THE MISSIONAL CHURCH?
...a brief look at how the NT church in our day might function

"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?"

Good question.

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)

20 comments:

Fusion! said...

my own blog I have tried (and failed) to live by this model. However, I do think more and more of us who find ourselves in the Reformed Camp (I'm SBC as well) should do well to see the ways the gospel takes us out of ourselves and into the real world.

Aaron Fenlason said...

Well said. I especially like point number 4 on leading with doctrine and not pragmatics.

Oh, and where can I get my own Ed Stetzer???

ostrakinos said...

Great beginning.

The issue here is one of ontology. Most of us just borrow one and/or assume it; but developing the right ontology of the church is everything.

Here's a proposition I borrowed from Craig Van Gelder -

The church is X.
The church does what it is.
The church organizes what it does.

The value of X changes the entirety of all that we do as being who we are.

After our intense work here in post-Katrina land we are completely done with 'business as usual' as far as church is concerned. The overly-rich, spoiled and inwardly focused churchianty model of existence makes us ill for it is self-absorbed and over-inflated.

We waste so much time, energy and resources on so many things all the while our own backyard communities need much.

One thing I would add to your list is that the Missional Church puts a high priority of active mercy by readily and continually meeting the immediate needs of the poor and disadvantaged.

I look forward to more discussion.

SJ Camp said...

Fusion!
...in the Reformed Camp (I'm SBC as well) should do well to see the ways the gospel takes us out of ourselves and into the real world.

AMEN! We need to be shaken and stirred from our pre-planned agendas and comfort zone. The gospel means that we must live dangerously but not recklessly. IOW, complete abandon to the Lord Jesus Christ.

SJ Camp said...

Aaron
Thank you for your encouragement.

Oh, and where can I get my own Ed Stetzer???

Wal-Mart. 2 for 1 special for Southern Baptists only. Closes out October 31st. :-).

SJ Camp said...

ostrakinow
One thing I would add to your list is that the Missional Church puts a high priority of active mercy by readily and continually meeting the immediate needs of the poor and disadvantaged.

Fully agree. Thank you!

John said...

Steve,
Great blog...truth is you could leave it with #15 and say all that needs to be said.

Aaron Fenlason said...

It's a good thing that I'm Southern Baptist! Is there an additional discount for being reformed?

P.s. I don't think that you should have inserted the word "friend".

Kevin in Manila said...

Good thoughts, Steve. I'm really excited that many are wrestling with this "missional" concept--it hopefully means we are seriously considering how to live out the Great Commission.

Dan said...

Hey Steve!

Thought I would post a response. To me, ultimately "missional" does equal the Great Commission. I think it is more of how we go about it. But I would agree, it equals the Great Commission.

As a church planter, the way I view missional is that everything we do and decide on revolves around mission/evangelism. Like it would if a missionary is overseas and going about day to day living as a missionary.

The church staff I was previously on definitely had "evangelism" but it was more of a program of the church and events now and then vs. a holistic approach to church as a missionary church would in another culture.

Until I REALLY grasped that we are missionaries here in USA - it was more of a slice of the pie approach. Where when we truly saw ourselves and church plant as mission like overseas it became or whole philosophy and threaded through everything.

Now, interestingly when you think of missional in this way, it means we worship God all the more passionately in desperation and awe of the one we are serving on mission. It means we cannot help but pray more like a missionary does in another culture for wisdom and strength. It means we need community with other believers all the more as we are in the world on mission and need each others prayers, encouragement support. It means we need to be passionately in the Scriptures all the more - as we are faced with questions raised, how to address situations that arise - as a result of mission. So it forces us to be students of the Word all the more.

Anyway, those are some thoughts about "missional". Hope all is well!!

Dan

Drew said...

Regarding Number 10 on your list: I believe a correct knowledge of the the roll of God in salvation is crucial in evangelism. However, I find that those that claim to be of the synergistic point of view are really monergistic in their understanding; it takes the touch of God to bring the sinner into the kingdom. They usually use talking points in their proclamations that you hear about free will and compelling those to come to Christ. Who can forget Peter on the day of Pentecost exhorting the people to “Save yourselves from this crooked generation”. Was Peter wrong in his proclamation? I don't think so. For there were those that should be saved that were saved in the group of hearers that day. So, in my opinion a synergistic church can be successful for the kingdom. However, I do believe a wholly monergistic church will produce better disciples in the long run.

SJ Camp said...

kevin in manila
wrestling with this "missional" concept--it hopefully means we are seriously considering how to live out the Great Commission.

That is my heart as well. Thx for your thoughts.
Steve

donsands said...

"It is also really listening to their views.."

There's a skill I rarely find in myself, and in the Church.

And when I find a Christian who is a good listener, he at the same time, will be less willing to speak the truth, but simply listen and nod his head, and pray.

That is how I am at times.

Other times I'm way to focused o what I'm gonna say, and I'm not listening.

Other times, the Holy Spirit helps me be a compassionate witness for Christ, as I listen, and even ask questions, and then with a grateful heart share the good news of Jesus Christ.

Great post Steve. Excellent thoughts really. Thanks.


"It means we need to be passionately in the Scriptures all the more.." -Dan

And so many in the Church today have lost this passion, or hunger.
I pray with all my heart that God would plant a hunger in the hearts and souls of His people, like never before. Amen.

" Your words were found, and I ate them,
and your words became to me a joy
and the delight of my heart,
for I am called by your name,
O Lord, God of hosts." Jer. 15:16

donsands said...

Another verse came to me: "But he [Jesus] answered, “It is written,

“‘Man shall not live by bread alone,
but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.’”" Matt. 4:4

Charis & Eirene.

eric opsahl said...

Are you commenting on the current
"Missional Church" movement.
or are you commenting in general on the N.T. church.

SJ Camp said...

eric
Are you commenting on the current "Missional Church" movement. or are you commenting in general on the N.T. church.

Both. The NT church as the model; the current Missional Church discussion as movement. I tried to weave them together based upon biblical foundation and considering the times in which we live.

Good question. Thank you.
Steve

SJ Camp said...

Don
Thank you my brother. Always good to have you weigh in here on these issues.

Brad Shaw said...

As a missionary, my perspective takes note of the loss of the meaning of the word (mission)as a result of our struggling with the question of how to do ministry. Ministry that is really cross cultural is probably the the central thing that defines missional, but the main thing needed today in the church (and missions) is to get back to scripture, for doctrine and practice. Thank you so much for your efforts in focusing on how our ministry methods can and should glorify our Lord by biblically trusting Him and His word.

SJ Camp said...

Brad
Ministry that is really cross cultural is probably the the central thing that defines missional, but the main thing needed today in the church (and missions) is to get back to scripture, for doctrine and practice.

I couldn't agree more. Thank you for your thoughts on this important issue.

Dave said...

About point 4--the concern for doctine as Aaron Fenlason--leads ono doctrine not pragmatics. I agree it can't be led on pragmatics. I would say it leads on Biblical Theology not doctrine. As a matter of fact it challenges the doctrines that are rooted more in a modern scholasticism than the Bible.