What Makes a Church Missional?

I am a big fan of (Bishop) Lesslie Newbigin, who was a total genius and deeply influenced my thoughts on everything from postmodernism to missiology to the doctrine of election. I am also a firm supporter of the missio dei movement, which I will post more on.

Churches in N. America and Europe desperately need to become missional or missio-centric, otherwise they really will die. This is a good article and please think about your own church when you read it.

One key question: what is your church doing to evangelize non-Christians? About a third of the world population has NO WITNESS at all to the Gospel. What are you doing about it?

What Makes a Church Missional?

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A 1998 book titled Missional Church: A Vision for the Sending of the Church in North America was the first work to introduce the concept of a missional church. The multi-authored book grew out of the Gospel and Our Culture Network, a group of professors and pastors that sought to bring the World Council of Churches' discussions of missio dei ("the mission of God") and Lesslie Newbigin's missionary insights to bear on North America. According to Missional Church, the American church had been tied to a "Christendom model" of Christianity, wherein the church focused on internal needs and maintaining its cultural privilege in society. The decline of Christendom provided the church an opportunity, they said, to rediscover its identity as a people sent by God into the world as gospel witnesses.

Such ideas often provoke resistance. After pastoring a church for several years, a friend of mine started recommending changes. Instead of leading the entire service herself, she involved various church members. She also suggested that the church advertise in the yellow pages and think of ways to reach those without a church home. [...]

So how can the missional church overcome its tendencies to domesticate an expansive, biblical vision? Missional Church suggests that Americans first need to look at how their various church traditions can inform a missional identity.

We need to ask questions like: What does it mean to be missional and Anglican/Episcopalian? The Anglican Communion can contribute a rich, liturgical heritage to the missional church, while a missional vision can maintain such rich liturgy as an instrument for God's kingdom.

What does it mean to be missional and Reformed? The Reformed emphasis on the power of God's Word and Spirit can give the missional church a more fully biblical theology, while a missional vision can remind Reformed believers that the Word is sent evangelistically into and for the world.

What does it mean to be missional and Lutheran? The Lutheran tradition's theology of the Cross can bring a much-needed Pauline emphasis to the missional church's theology of the kingdom, while a missional vision can remind Lutherans of the centrality of the kingdom reign of God.

What does it mean to be missional and Mennonite? The Mennonite tradition of "the way of Jesus" can sharpen the missional church's vision of itself, while a missional vision can keep Mennonites culturally engaged in God's mission to the world.

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Comments

brad brisco said…
I too am a big fan of Newbigin and the work out of GOCN. I thought the best part of the CT article was the application that you have included here concerning different denominational groups.
Abu Daoud said…
Thanks Brad. Newbigin is one of the first guys I read on missions and I remember really being affected by what he wrote...I think it was "The Open Secret" which is a short little book. That was certainly part of my call to move to the Middle East.
Don said…
Here's a blog of another denominational group who are working on being missional:

http://missionalcog.wordpress.com/

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