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The conference I belong to is encouraging us to become "Missional Churches." I would like to have more info on what "Missional churches" believe, and if I should have any concerns. Any help or direction would be appreciated.

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Simply googling "missional churches" returns a useful set of reasonably informative hits.

From the 2nd hit: ``The term "missional" is simply the noun "missionary" adapted into an adjective.''
I did google it and received a lot of info, but found it hard to pinpoint. In fact one quote I read was that "as soon as you try to define the "Missional Church" you lose the essence of what makes a "Missional Church."
I went to a conference at Southern Baptist Seminary, and one of the break-out sessions was about the Missional Church.  Basically, it's a mindset.  Missions is what we are called to do (the Great Commission).  So, missions should be the driving force (along with worship) behind our churches.  Just for an example: the Kentucky SBC has organized a massive door-to-door drive that involves churches all over the state.  But a missional church doesn't really have anything to do with denominations.  It has everything to do with the church being actively involved in missions.  Hope that helps some.

The word missional became a buzzword within the emerging church movement. So, many people can mainly connect the word with the emerging church, and there are those that don't think too highly of people associated with the emerging or emergent movement. So, it can have somewhat of a negative connotation in some people's minds.

 

But practically, to be missional is to recognise our being sent out by Christ, just as he was sent by the Father and the Spirit was sent by the Father and the Son.

Our church body has recently been discussing the Missional model. And I think it is very important to make the specific differentiation between the two buzz words "Missional" and "Evangelistic." Both agree on spreading the Gospel of Christ and holding the Gospel as central. Seeker churches or other types of evangelistic churches I think tend to put more emphasis on evangelism (preaching to the lost, and bringing in those sinners) than they do on worship, the very function of our every day lives that bring praise to the Glory of God. Missional sees things through the lens of "Missions exists, because worship doesn't" - as the saying goes. Placing the doctrine of the Glory of God, in and through our every day lives, as the main emphasis with missions as one outworking of it. Slight difference, but important. 

 

1) One of the first things that differentiates a  Missional church from the typical evangelistic church in practice is a change in the definition of missionaries. Missionaries are not only those people who drop everything and follow God to unreached people in the depths of Congo. Missionaries are people who are invested in the spread of the gospel every day, wherever you are, and in whatever you are doing. That means all of us. We are all "on the mission field." How this effects practice is that all your evangelistic efforts are directly under your nose and more importantly, there for the long term. It is the model of "Spreading the gospel through relationships." Being open to meet and befriend sinners, as Christ modeled, and build a relationship of trust before even mentioning Christianity or the Good news. And that can be done in a million small ways. 

 

2) Evangelism is not the same as mercy ministries. Although taking care of the poor, the widowed and the fatherless is very important, these are not "missions." These actions, seem by most churches as evangelistic opportunities to sign the kids up for, are more a function of the everyday love that we are called to have for God's creatures. The Missional person, does go on these activities but then spends more time getting to know the people there and finds ways to personally stay connected with them, and how they can help them in physical and spiritual nourishment. This takes a LOT more work than showing up on a Saturday and helping in the handout lines. And it gets a lot messier also. Your time, money, and mental resources get far more involved and taxed than the "knock on doors and invite people to church" style. 

 

3) The model for actually getting people involved in the church body is the opposite of most evangelistic churches. Most people (and I speak from my experience here in the southern, big church, bible belt) try to get people to come visit their Sunday service. Once they are a semi-regular on Sunday mornings, you are supposed to get the "plugged in" to a small group where more real relationships can grow and accountability and counseling can happen. But the Missional church flips that plan around. It's members are to get to know people relationally, invite them to their small groups, become a part of their lives, show them real Christianity, and THEN ask them if they are interested in visiting the Sunday gathering for Worship. 

 

Our pastor used a brief analogy this past Sunday about not being a "water balloon" evangelist. You don't run out there and throw Gospel at people, watch to see if the spirit breaks upon them and then turn tail and run back to the safety net of our "church group" and give ourselves a big pat on the back for being so daring in sharing the gospel. It's not done on billboards, bumper stickers, or even picket signs at an abortion clinic. It's done through the long haul of investing in relationships with people you may not be comfortable with, soft spoken gospel, and opening your home for adoption so these young mothers have options besides abortion.

 

Our pastor usually does expository preaching, but has taken the last couple months to go over this very thing as our church has had several new families lately. He just finished the series "Who Are We?" If you are interested you could listen to the sermon from yesterday and some previous ones as he was going into the foundations of how we can become Missional. It's not as crazy and scary a thing as people think. It does get a bad wrap though because, as Scottle said, it is used as a model by a lot of "fringe" churches. 

 

Sorry for the long post. 

 

Ellis Wedel said:
one quote I read was that "as soon as you try to define the "Missional Church" you lose the essence of what makes a "Missional Church."

I find that sort of statement to be anti-intellectual, post-modernistic tripe. The idea that one can't define a term without destroying the term, leaving everyone to his own fuzzy and undefined concept, is to say that communication about the concept indicated is in fact impossible, and that is as wrong-headed as anything ever taught in the worst heresies.

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