Helpful Tidbits for Organic Church Life                                             June 23, 2008
Defining "Missional" Church
My Reflections
NEW Missional Church [Michael Frost]
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In 1983 missiologist Lesslie Newbigin published The Other Side of 1984: Questions for the Churches. Newbigin's short monograph ignited a firestorm of discussion resulting in the Gospel and Our Culture (Network) launched in Great Britain.
In the late 1980s the conversation made its way to North America. Spearheaded by Darrell Guder (and others), noted missiologists were brought together to tackle the "spiritual" and "theological" issues facing the church in the west. In other words, the "missional" discussion could not be neatly separated from the "spiritual" and "theological" discussion for they are intimately tied.
The North American discussion led to the publishing of Missional Church, edited by Guder, giving us our first substantive taste of the church as sent agency as opposed to sending agency.
Over a decade later the term Missional Church is still largely misunderstood. Recently, one of the contributors to the now classic Missional Church, Alan Roxburgh, offered a succinct definition in his most recent book, Missional Leadership.

THIS WEEK'S QUESTION/TOPIC: Defining "Missional" Church
Defining "Missional" Church 
Excerpt from The Missional Leader by Alan Roxburgh & Fred Romanuk
God is about a big purpose in and for the whole of creation. The church has been called into life to be both the means of this mission and a foretaste of where God is inviting all creation to go. Just as its Lord is a mission-shaped God, so the community of God's people exists, not for themselves but for the sake of the work. Mission is therefore not a program or project some people in the church do from time to time (as in "mission trip," "mission budget," and so on); the church's very nature is to be God's missionary people. We use the word missional to mark this big difference. Mission is not about a project or a budget, or a one-off event somewhere; it's not even about sending missionaries. A missional church is a community of God's people who live into the imagination that they are, by their very nature, God's missionary people living as a demonstration of what God plans to do in and for all of creation in Jesus Christ (2006:xv).
My Reflections
Recently I attended the Sunday service of a church looking to be "missional." Knowing my research interests, a key staff person spoke with me about a whip-bang event they're planning, complete with free food and bounce houses for the kids. "We're trying to reach out to the neighborhood," she told me.
Although I didn't mean to, I think my heart went numb. My simple question is this one: When will we come to understand that "missional" isn't the next event, but the next breath, all that we are, used of God, led by the Spirit to usher in the Kingdom to any and all "dark" places? "You [not free food or bounce houses] are the light of the world" [Mt 5:14]. I tell you the truth, as long as we think in terms of events we're sunk in the water.
Big_RedDoes this mean bounce houses and hot dogs are off limits? Absolutely not. For example, my friend Scott Wilson makes use of his Big Red Bus appropriately; that is, he doesn't see "Big Red" as a tool, but as a blessing. There's a difference. Scott puts it this way, "We want to love people whether they ever love our God or not." When we use tools, we manipulate. When we bless, we're a blessing.
In the end, motives will always find us out. And too often, when we "do" events, we're looking for a "return," thereby "objectifying" people. Instead, let's be faithful to embody the gospel, sow the Word (often by sharing verbally), let God bring a harvest, and reap when the time is right.
When it comes to missional, think nets, not hooks. Jesus said, "Come, follow me, and I will make you fishers of people" (Mt 4:19). Notice the imagery. Hooks are baited, attractional. Nets of relationships, however, are all-encompassing and those in the process of being "caught" are swept away in a torrent of love.
Now, with Jesus at the helm, let's go throw our nets on the other side of the boat.
Hope this was of some benefit to you.

Traver Dougherty
The Banqueting Table