Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Missional Living

About 30 years ago, some people began using the word “missional” to describe living every moment of every day as a disciple sent by Christ into the world and incorporating the mission Jesus gave us into our lives 24/7 vs. the prevailing mentality of compartmentalizing our lives into segments like family, job, activities, friendships, and church. The church had become a place you went and watched for a couple of hours a week and then got back to the rest of your life. The language of “missional” was crafted to call the church back to its original mission of being the presence of Christ in the world 24/7.

Today this language of living “missional” lives is getting more and more press and in some circles has almost become faddish (which is scary since we all know what happens to fads.) To read a brief (vs. a whole book) and excellent history of the missional movement see here. To see a definition of a missional church, see here. Below I have copied an excellent description of a missional church. These are the indicators of a missional church. I long for Church of the Open Door to become more missional and it is the direction I have been leading the church ever since I arrived. It is a long, arduous process but recently I am seeing more and more signs that are very encouraging. There have always been people at this church living missional lives, even before the language was coined, but they have been a minority. It seems that every day I am hearing news of the people of Open Door really living out their faith, becoming more like Christ, living missional lives. I encourage you to look at these indicators of a missional church below and ask yourself, is this true of our church? What can I do to live out this kind of missional life? In other words, what can I do to become more like Christ in the way I live my day to day life?

1. The missional church proclaims the gospel.

What it looks like: The story of God’s salvation is faithfully repeated in a multitude of different ways.

2. The missional church is a community where all members are involved in learning to become disciples of Jesus.

What it looks like: The disciple identity is held by all; growth in discipleship is expected of all.

3. The Bible is normative in the church’s life.

What it looks like: The church is reading the Bible together to learn what it can learn nowhere else – God’s good and gracious intent for all creation, the salvation mystery, and the identity and purpose of life together.

4. The church understands itself as different from the world because of its participation in the life, death, and resurrection of its Lord.

What it looks like: In its corporate life and public witness, the church is consciously seeking to conform to its Lord instead of the multitude of cultures in which it finds itself.

5. The church seeks to discern God’s specific missional vocation for the entire community and for all of its members.

What it looks like: The church has made its “mission” it priority, and in overt and communal ways is seeking to be and do “what God is calling us to know, be, and do.”

6. A missional community is indicated by how Christians behave toward one another.

What it looks like: Acts of self-sacrifice on behalf of one another both in the church and in the locale characterize the generosity of the community.

7. It is a community that practices reconciliation.

What it looks like: The church community is moving beyond homogeneity toward a more heterogeneous community in its racial, ethnic, age, gender, and socioeconomic makeup.

8. Peoples within the community hold themselves accountable to one another in love.

What it looks like: Substantial time is spent with one another for the purpose of watching over one another in love.

9. The church practices hospitality.

What it looks like: Welcoming the stranger into the midst of the community plays a central role.

10. Worship is the central act by which the community celebrates with joy and thanksgiving both God’s presence and God’s promised future.

What it looks like: There is a significant and meaningful engagement in communal worship of God, reflecting appropriately and addressing the culture of those who worship together.

11. The community has a vital public witness.

What it looks like: The church makes an observable impact that contributes to the transformation of life, society, and human relationships.
12. There is a recognition that the church itself is an incomplete expression of the reign of God.

What it looks like: There is a widely help perception that this church is going somewhere – and that “somewhere” is a more faithfully lived life in the reign of God.[3]

One final note from the writings of the Gospel and Culture Network: Darrell Guder emphasizes the importance of having congregations formed by hearing the Bible “missionally.” He points out that when missional renewal is happening, different kinds of questions are brought to the Bible. He writes:

Congregations are open to being challenged, to looking hard at their deeply ingrained attitudes and expectations. The missional approach asks, How does God’s Word call, shape, transform, and send me . . . and us? Coupled with this openness is the awareness, that biblical formation must mean change, and often conversion. Christian communities may discover that their discipling will require repentance and that their way of being church will have to change.

What do you think?

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