The Missional Myth

A term you may hear thrown around a lot these days is the word Missional. You may have wondered what it meant, who was behind it, and who is being Missional. The church loves to name movements within. We have had the Great Awakening, The Azusa Revivals, and The Jesus Movement to name a few. Recently movements with in the church haven’t necessarily been revivals but instead methods of doing ministry. It started with the Seeker Sensitive movement (Attractional) which was counteracted by the Emergent Church movement. I am not going to define any of these movements but instead take a look at the movement of the moment which is the Missional Movement.

Now some would argue with me that Missional isn’t a movement but the true way to do church. We are all missionaries and we are to go and be missionaries in our communities, hence being Missional. If it was that easy I wouldn’t be writing this blog. In fact when I first heard of Missional and what it was my first thought was “Duh!” Unfortunately there isn’t one definition for being Missional. Tim Keller in his book Center Church identifies four definitions and then goes on to give his own.

The Missional movement, first defined in 1999, is really a morphing of many different movements. You will find a large section of Reformed pastors describing themselves as Missional. You will also find converts from the Emergent movement as well as the Attractional movement all jumping on the bandwagon. So what is the Missional movement? It is a push to get the church to look outward towards the lost in the community instead of inward. It is a movement to de-emphasize the position of the pastor and to lift of the Priesthood of all Saints.

Here is my issue with this movement. It over emphasizes social justice as a way preaching the Gospel. It  over emphasizes community over congregations. It also elevates contextualization over content. What I mean by that is that there is far too much emphasis put on not offending people with our message and that we need to speak in terms that they will understand. The over-arching reasoning that a Missional person uses is that our culture is changing fast and so we as a church needs to change as well. We are no longer a Christian culture (Christendom) and so we need to adapt to the culture. My objection to this is that the first century church wasn’t born into a Christian Culture and spent the first 300 years, not relating to the culture of the day, but instead sticking out.

The Missional movement celebrates the Mars Hill method of reaching people, reasoning with them. The irony of this it was Paul’s least fruitful ministry place. Right after Athens Paul went to Corinth and we see him attempt another tactic…humility. He preached Christ and him Crucified and that’s it! Corinth was a place that even our culture would blush at today yet Paul experienced great fruit in that city. Instead of the church trying to adapt to the culture what we need to do is strip ministry down to the basics and humbly preach Jesus Christ.

Here is the mythical part of this movement. It is a lot of theory but there is very little effectiveness going on. We can talk all day about equipping people to be on mission in their community or workplace but we aren’t seeing a lot of it. I am all for reaching the community but to me this movement seems like a repackaged concoction of a bunch of previous movements that have recently passed.

32 replies
  1. Tony Huy
    Tony Huy says:

    Hi Chuck,

    Thanks for the thought provoking post. I say thanks because “missional” is definitely in the in and I always appreciate those that are willing to wrestle with what is mainstream rather than blindly accepting it. That said, your post had some really strong definitive statements that I wonder if they are a bit one-sided.

    ” In fact when I first heard of Missional and what it was my first thought was “Duh!” ”

    Is being missional that obvious? I think the phrase is often thrown around “You are a missionary and this is your mission field” (speaking of wherever we live), but to be honest, our intention for the gospel (planning, resources, time, going) is rarely as vibrant here as when we go on say a mission trip. I think the “missional” movement is trying to narrow that gap in our view of life and way of thinking about what it means to obey the great commission. It seems to me that there are always non-obvious ways to engage our communities if we take time to ask if we are in fact being missionaries: should the Christmas women’s tea be at a retirement home? can the men’s breakfast include homeless people? should our yearly retreat be done at an orphanage? can we replicate VBS out in some neighborhood? should our youth do a short term mission trip in their own city, doing everything they would do overseas right here in our own city? These may not be feasible for every church, but I think (just my thought) that the majority view of our people about the great commission is “bring them to church and the pastor will preach the gospel and give an altar call”.

    “It over emphasizes community over congregations.”

    Is this true as a whole? My sense has been that it’s an emphasis on living in “community” over simply “going to church”. I don’t find many churches that use the “missional” mantra trying to de-emphasize the need for congregational gathering. It seems they are trying to emphasize that “being in fellowship” is not satisfied in “I went to church on Sunday”.

    “What I mean by that is that there is far too much emphasis put on not offending people with our message”

    Hmmm, that has not been my experience, but maybe it feels this way because it seems to me (and my view is limited) that the pastors that are very into being “missional” are very focused on preaching Jesus and the gospel in every text and rarely do a study on one specific sin, except abortion. I’ve heard many of them preach on abortion during pro-life week.

    “that we need to speak in terms that they will understand”

    My thought is: wasn’t this the core of the Calvary movement? Wasn’t that what the Jesus Movement was about. Speak in a way that hippies understand, make the gospel palatable, connect with the culture but don’t compromise the truth? I’m a little puzzled on the objection here.

    “The Missional movement celebrates the Mars Hill method of reaching people, reasoning with them.”

    Again, maybe my exposure has been off base, but when I hear churches that are “missional” talk, I don’t know if the push has been to “reason” people into heaven as much as making sure there is “life on life” preaching of the gospel – relationship AND gospel presentation. That seems extremely biblical and relevant to me.I think the ministry of Jesus, the apostles, and church history gives a lot of weight to the power of kind acts, good works, “social justice” as a means to open the door for effectively sharing the gospel. I haven’t heard any credible “missional” church say that social justice will save sinners, but they do say that if you don’t love the people, it’s very rare they will care what you say. I think every church knows this, but do we actually live it? It’s just me, but if I was sent to be a missionary to a Muslim country, or budhist country, or Hindu country, I would not ignore the practical life struggles around me, go out friday night for “street witnessing”, and expect people to flock to the gospel.

    “Here is the mythical part of this movement. It is a lot of theory but there is very little effectiveness going on.”

    This was the most one-sided statement to me out of your post. What is the basis of this? How do we measure this? To me, when I hear of young people having hearts to engage their schools and their friends and their city with the same “missional” mindset as when they sign up for a missions trip overseas, as a pastor, I tend to think that is effectiveness.

    I’m not wanting to attack your post, I just wished it was more balanced in analyzing the good and the bad.

    Tony

    Reply
    • Miles DeBenedictis
      Miles DeBenedictis says:

      Chuck,

      I’d have to agree with Tony on several of his counterpoints.  

      For the majority of believers in our churches I’m not sure that the concept of living with a missionary mind within the culture and community you live is entirely a “Duh!” sort of thing.  This is a mindset that must be instilled into the people within our fellowships, especially when the concepts of contextualization and social engagement are primarily seen as aspects of “missions” in other countries.  Our church in Escondido has begun to think like this, but that was after we took a large cross-section of our church through the Perspectives course and presented that vision regularly on Sunday mornings.

      The issues you present about overemphasizing social justice and community over preaching and congregations is just not valid in the expressions of the missional movement that I’ve observed.  

      Most “missional” leaders are seeking to ramp up the social engagement of their congregations, but not as a substitute for gospel proclamation.  Gospel proclamation is still central, but there is a recognition that social engagement must also be emphasized.  The idea is that a well rounded gospel church will be engaged socially if they are living out the tenets of the gospel.  Thus, in the area of proclamation and social engagement there is a both/and and not an either/or approach.  

      In addition the issue of community vs. congregation is also a both/and issue among missional churches.  Again, most of the expressions I’ve observed seek to make up for what is lacking in community among our fellowships. 

      Furthermore, does the missional movement elevate contextualization over content, or are they seeking to contextualize to present content more effectively?  The recognition among missional leaders is that our culture has changed, and the methods of presenting the truth of the gospel that worked 20-30 years ago are not having the same impact today.  Therefore, just as a missionary to the Philippines would have to change his/her approach, we need to do the same.  If we are going to present the gospel in a way that people will connect with, then we need to present the same core of the message in a way it will be received.  The issue is not not offending people, it is presenting for the greatest measure of impact.  

      As the church spread through the Greco-Roman world of the first century it stuck out because it was so different in its monotheistic doxology and practice. The pre-Christian Roman world of the first century was very similar to the post-Christian world of the 21st century west.  The church will, and should stand out in this atmosphere, hopefully for similar reasons. But it shouldn’t be because it looks like the 1950’s – 1990’s in its cultural expression. 

      All that said, I do tend to agree with Jeff Jackson that one of the dangers of the missional movement’s aim at helping every Christian see themselves as “missionaries” to their own culture may diminish their engagement and support of global missions. I’m not sure if that is a true outcome, but I can see the potential. 

      Reply
      • Chuck Musselwhite
        Chuck Musselwhite says:

        Miles,

        First of all my “duh” comment was intended as a personal insight and had no bearing on the church as a whole. I am fully aware that most don’t get the missionary mindset.

        I disagree with you on the social justice issue. I can’t tell you how many churches and parachurch organizations have taken up the cause of providing clean water to the world all in the name of the Gospel yet you are now reading story after story of the ineffectiveness of the social causes. Also one of the marks of the millennial generation is it concern for social justice issues and I have almost 20 years of working with this generation watching it manifest itself in a personal feel good project.

        Regarding community over congregation authors like Mike Breen advocate medium size community group over a sunday congregation meeting like churches do now.A major emphasize of a sizable part of the missional movement is to deconstruct how church is done today. This can be seen in several bloggers who bash anything a typical church does today.

        Finally when it comes to contextualization Tim Keller himself says that the language that the church uses today has to be changed because of its offensive nature and its lack of basis with the post-modern generation. This struck me as ironic because this is exactly what the seeker sensitive churches attempted in reaching those who don’t know God.

        I am not an opponent of the missional movement but I’ve yet to see it be effective on a grand scale and much of it seems repackaged from previous movements.

        Reply
  2. Josh Turansky
    Josh Turansky says:

    Chuck,
    Thanks for sharing. I agree with you on some of your points, but allow me to suggest two counter points:

    1. The missional movement seems to be a healthier (orthodox) alternative to the seeker sensative movement and the emergent movement. The missional movement seems to do a better job of personifying the biblical teaching of truth and love in equal tension. From my observations, the missional movement has struck a cord with some of the seeker sensative churches in my area and those churches have refined their ministry philosophy a bit.

    2. Some of the newer evangelical churches that have come on the scene recently probably wouldn’t say that they started as a “missional” church, but their style of outreach and approach to their community runs parallel to many of the sugested activities in missional books.

    Like Tony said above, you probably need to be more specific in your criticism in order to make your case. I’m very interested in this line of thinking, but it is hard to agree without more specifics. Maybe it would be helpful if you pointed out what missional resources you feel are an overemphasis on social justice. Or maybe it would be helpful if you gave a general illustration of a church trying to be missional and failing. What did that failure look like?

    Thanks!

    Josh

    Reply
    • Chuck Musselwhite
      Chuck Musselwhite says:

      Josh,

      Thanks for your response and what you say is true to a point but I would argue that all churches start out with the intention of getting their people to reach their communities. The key here is that you use the word “seem” and that is my point, these churches are putting on the appearances of being missional and saying all the right lingo but underneath they have the same operations, problems, and struggles that every other churches have. The major criticism that Missional churches have is that established churches have is that they are inward focused. That is an inherent struggle every church has because we are called to disciple and that means focusing on those you have.

      I would use some examples, and I have a few on the top of my head right now, but when I do in this blog space I tend to get myself in trouble. :)

      Reply
      • Josh Turansky
        Josh Turansky says:

        Chuck,
        I can sympathize with the inability to use specifics :-)

        From my own experience I have seen that the missional church provokes a healthy conversation for established churches in regards to being outward focused rather than inward focused. I think it is a good conversation to have. Also, I prefer the recommendations that the missional movement gives regarding outward focus more than the recommendations of the seeker sensitive movement and the emergent movement. While not all the missional recommendations are useful, I am more sympathetic to their ideas. I guess what I’m saying is that I believe the missional movement has contributed more to modern philosophies of ministry than the other two groups.

        It sounds like you have some specific examples in mind when you say “these churches are putting on the appearances of being missional and saying all the right lingo but underneath they have the same operations, problems, and struggles that every other churches have”. I can understand this criticism. You are saying “When we boil it down and scrub away the fancy web site, they are pretty similar to the other ten evangelical churches in town.” But are you criticizing their inability to execute on the missional ideal, or the ideal itself?

        I guess I differentiate between the “missional church” and the “missional ideas”. I appreciate many of their suggestions on how a church can share the gospel with their community. Many of their ideas are not new, but their ideas are being resurrected while disenfranchised young adults wonder why the church is so absent from culture.

        To sum it up on my end… I still think there are some useful aspects that can be pulled from the missional movement.

        God bless,

        Josh

        Reply
  3. Anita Saunders
    Anita Saunders says:

    I personally know of 2 missionaries that dig wells and bring clean drinking water into poor barrios in the Philippines. These men and their wives live, speak and preach the gospel and at every opportunity preach Christ and the grace of God to others. The wells are used as the starting point for trust, friendship, and the venue to share the Living Water with thirsty souls. To me that is what missional means.

    Reply
    • Chuck Musselwhite
      Chuck Musselwhite says:

      Anita,

      Like every good cause there are so many people out there doing it right. My mention of Water is that it has become a global symbol of doing good that has lost it’s intention and purpose that it started with.

      Reply
  4. Matt Kottman
    Matt Kottman says:

    This is a good discussion.

    I think the big issue isn’t missional, but gospel. If the missional movement is about magnifying the gospel, then the question is, how are people defining the gospel? One group sees the gospel as laid out in Matthew 4:23, “And he went throughout all Galilee, teaching in their synagogues and proclaiming the gospel of the kingdom and healing every disease and every affliction among the people.”

    Here the gospel of the kingdom seems very closely connected with ‘social justice’ (btw, I don’t like the term social justice, maybe worthy of a post for another time). Some see the gospel as being fulfilled in tending to social issues, but as Stephen Neill said, “If everything is mission, nothing is mission.”

    Another way to see the gospel is in the scope of the great commission (Matthew 28:18-20), the making of disciples.

    If one group defines the gospel broadly, their being ‘missional’ will look radically different than a narrow definition. If we have a conversion and discipleship definition of the gospel, then our mission will reflect that and every activity we do (soup kitchen, pro-life, debt counselling) will ultimately be for the purpose of the gospel Word being proclaimed. Therefore, I think the big question isn’t whether it is good to be missional. Being on mission is a good thing when we are on the right mission. We need to clearly define what the gospel is, so we can focus our mission on that.

    Chuck, I would disagree with you on the Acts 17 interpretation. What is actually happening in Acts 17 is hotly debated by many and long theses and dissertations have been written on it. However, seeing Paul’s work in Athens as a failure (i.e. leaving out the crucifixion) would be a mistake. I think Paul did preach the crucifixion in Athens.
    1.) Paul reasoned in the synagogue with the Jews and Gentile worshipers as well as the marketplace daily (Acts 17:17). There is no reason to think the way Paul reasoned there is any different from 15 verses earlier in Acts 17:2 where we see that Paul reasoned that the crucifixion and resurrection were necessary. If Paul saw that as necessary before in his reasoning, it would also be so here.
    2.) In his Areopagus address, he commanded repentance (Acts 17:30), he preached about the coming judgement as well as the resurrection (Acts 17:31). In order to preach the resurrection, I think speaking of the crucifixion would be necessary. At the end of 1 Corinthians, he makes that explicit (1 Corinthians 15:3-4).
    3.) Actually, I think the real question comes down to what Paul meant when he called the Athenians ‘very religious’ (Acts 17:22). Is he commending them for the devout (though false faith), or is he exposing the futility of their pursuits? This is where Acts 17 gets misapplied. Those who think Paul is commending them tend to use everything as a mere point of contact. But if Paul is exposing, it is rather a “point of attack” (J.H. Bavinck is really good on this). Here’s a (lengthy) quote from Bavinck’s An Introduction To The Science of Mission (p.140-1)…

    “No language is ready-made to receive the gospel. Even our language must be re-tailored, must first be born again, and this process of rebirth is slow and difficult. We cannot escape this original ‘ontact,’ but gradually it is purified. We are forced to find a person where he is, whitin his own conceptual world, but from then on, after the initial contact, we must seek to refurnish and cleanse his conceptual world, from the top to the bottom…
    We are now in a position to reach a conclusion concerning the problem of a ‘point of contact.’ From a strictly theological point of view there is no point within pagan thought which offers an unripe truth that can be simply taken over and utilized as a basis for our Christian witness. If this is what is meant by a point of contact, then there just is none… [W]e must ever endeavor to purify the terms we have borrowed of their pagan connotations….
    We would like to distinguish, therefore, a ‘point of attack’ from a ‘point of contact’. The point of attack signifies for us the awareness of need, poverty, and inability, which we frequently encounter in non-Christian nations, as well as in our own surroundings. This universal feeling of need or of anxiety is not in itself a thirsting for Christ, but we can use it in our preaching to bring to light the deeper need of man, the need for God.”

    So Paul does know Epimenides’ poetry and is versed in cultural touch-points for the gospel, but he is not condoning their poets, rather using their poets to expose their twisted understanding of who God is.

    Reply
  5. Tim Brown
    Tim Brown says:

    Good thoughts, Matt. A good diagnostic question to ask is: Is social justice an end in itself or a means to an end?

    If it is an end in itself it is not the gospel
    If it is a means to an end it is a maidservant to the gospel.

    Social justice is not the gospel, it is an implication of the gospel. If the cause of social gospel crowds out Christ, the gospel is left behind. It is possible that social justice becomes an enemy of the gospel in the same way that the good becomes the enemy of the best.

    This is hardly a new discussion. Liberation theology of the 60s and 70s, ostensibly an implication of the gospel, crowded out Christ. The same currents are at play here in the arguments that are made. The gospel is about bringing the King to people. Often, social justice is about bringing the kingdom to people. Maybe we can frame it this way – when social justice greases the wheels of bringing in the King, it’s good. When social justice is about the bringing in of the kingdom, it’s skewed.

    What do you think?

    Reply
    • Matt Kottman
      Matt Kottman says:

      Tim,
      I was just thinking of something Stott said in his book “The Living Church” (p.54) that was really good on this.

      “At the opposite extreme to the religious club is the secular mission (or religionless Christianity). It was in the 1960’s that some Christian thinkers became understandably exasperated by what they saw as the ecclesiastical self-centredness of the church. The church seemed to them so incorrigibly absorbed in its own petty domestic affairs that they resolved to abandon it and drop out. For the arena of divine service they exchanged the church for the secular city. They were no longer interested in ‘worship services’, they said, but only in ‘worship service’. So they tried to develop a ‘religionless Chrstianity’ in which they re-interpreted worship as mission, love for God as love for neighbour, and prayer to God as encounter with people… We have no liberty to confuse worship and mission, even though each involves the other. There is always an element of mission in worship and of worship in mission, but they are not synonymous.”

      Reply
      • Tim Brown
        Tim Brown says:

        Stott’s quote demonstrates that these are not new currents of thought and challenge we are dealing with – just fresh currents. You posting his quote also demonstrates how important it is that ministry today be acquainted with the theological work of yesterday in that it can help us think through the fresh challenges we face today.

        Reply
  6. Chuck Musselwhite
    Chuck Musselwhite says:

    Tim,

    Great point! I think you hit it on the head and further proves my point that a lot of the missional movement is a retread of previous movements just repackaged. While many are saying the Gospel is going out what I am seeing is another form of liberal social justice.

    Reply
  7. Tim Brown
    Tim Brown says:

    Hi, Chuck – social justice isn’t in-and-of-itself liberal. It becomes liberal when it substitutes for the gospel. And I get your reservations about the missional movement, but it’s not necessarily a retread – unless it substitutes causes for Christ. Intentionality about social justice isn’t a putting aside of the gospel. Exaltation of social justice is a putting aside of the gospel.

    Reply
    • Miles DeBenedictis
      Miles DeBenedictis says:

      Clearly the pendulum is always swinging from side to side as it relates to social justice and gospel proclamation. For some reason we cannot seem to find a middle on this issue. Clearly my bent would be slightly to one side in favor of gospel proclamation being that I’m a preaching pastor from a movement (Calvary Chapel) that elevates teaching and preaching. But I do think that we can swing to far and fail on the issues of compassion and justice.

      The way I see it, the liberation theology swing of the 60’s and 70’s was a reaction to a perceived disregard of social issues within the church of the 50’s. In the same way the emergent stream of the missional movement – which is what I think you [Chuck] are primarily questioning – is [I think] reacting to 20 years of politically engaged evangelicalism that has seemed to fight against government funded welfare while providing no alternative response from within the church.

      I do think however that there needs to be a distinction between (what I might call) the emergent stream of missional leaders/churches and the conservative evangelical stream of missional leaders/churches. There are a great deal of solidly biblical and evangelical leaders speaking into this missional sphere who do not diminish the importance of gospel proclamation while at the same time elevating the need for the church to be socially engaged with gospel demonstration. We have to be careful not to paint with too large a brush.

      Reply
  8. Tim Brown
    Tim Brown says:

    Yes, the early church and the missionary church rescued babies and widows and founded schools and hospitals and introduced more effective agricultural methods, etc. No one accused them of compromising the gospel (that I know of). They adorned the gospel with good works.

    Reply
  9. Tim Brown
    Tim Brown says:

    Miles, a side note – I don’t think that liberation theology was so much a reaction to the perceived disregard of the social issues of the church of the 50s as it was a whole new theological construct emerging from interaction with the oppressed peoples in Latin American countries. Meaning, it wasn’t one of the rhythmic swings bringing ministry correction to the church as it was a whole new theological departure from mainstream ministry. Liberation theology wasn’t something that the conservative mainstream church was doing. This isn’t the case w/ the missional influence in the church. If the missional push we see today was as radically a departure from the gospel as liberation theology was then – it wouldn’t get traction among us that is has.

    Reply
    • Miles DeBenedictis
      Miles DeBenedictis says:

      Tim,

      You are more knowledgeable of Liberation Theology than me. But like so many theological constructs, it was a reaction. From what you’re pointing out it was a reaction to the conditions of oppression among Latin American peoples. Yes?

      I guess we just have to be careful how we react.

      Reply
  10. Tim Brown
    Tim Brown says:

    And it was conceived by and given birth to by the liberal church – the conservative church never owned it. The seminal Biblical story for LT is the exodus which entails, among other things, political freedom. Its premise is that the church is to agitate for and work toward the political freedom of oppressed peoples. OK so far, at least to a point. (Paul tells slaves that if they can secure freedom – do it). But when revolution and violence are the acceptable means to achieve this end, it becomes a severe departure from the gospel.

    All this to point out that one can’t say that the missional movement of the 21st century is akin to the LT of the 20th century – apples and oranges. There’s no comparison. I’ve enjoyed this conversation.

    Reply
    • Tony Huy
      Tony Huy says:

      I want to say that I’m very thankful for a place to hear the hearts of other pastors. I enjoy each of your thoughts and appreciate the humble spirit of wanting to learn from each other on this blog.

      One of the things this thread reminds me of is how thankful I am at the diversity in the church of Jesus. I am thankful that churches are not the same, that ministry methods are not the same, that church preachers don’t all sound alike, that not everyone goes verse by verse and chapter by chapter … but some do and I’m glad for both. I am thankful that church in America is not the God prescribed picture of church for an unreached people group, and programs and methodologies for a church in Beverly Hills is not the anointed method for church in a drug infested / gang infested area.

      Reply
  11. Bill Walden
    Bill Walden says:

    Chuck,
    Thanks for tackling one of the sacred cows of current Christendom. Your “duh” comment greatly resonates with me.

    I am purposely going backwards in all of this. I tire of the definitions and re-definitions. I am not suggesting that there are not insights to be gleaned, things to be re-considered, or changes to be made. There are some good people being inspired of God to suggest some good ideas.

    It seems that so much of our current analyses have become more cognitively concluded than perhaps Spirit led. . I understand that that is a broad brush, un-provable statement. I also know that the Spirit leads us to think, analyze, consider, etc. I am not suggesting that we check in our brains in the foyer.

    But I wonder how much the early church sought to analyze the world around them, as opposed to sticking tenaciously to the basics, and then allowing themselves to be led by the Holy Spirit.

    I have, from time to time, enjoyed greatly being led to do some new thing in ministry that wasn’t based on reading about it somewhere. It is exciting to be Spirit led on the local level, and to do something that God has directed YOU to do.

    I think my personality is such that I am more organically minded anyway, and less inclined to read from the think tanks (though there are good Spirit inspired ideas there)

    Perhaps this is a slight pushback from approaching church ministry via analysis and discussion on a broad, national/international level. I sometimes feel left behind and irrelevant for not jumping on board with the latest church trends.

    Instead, I have found myself trying to go deeper into the basics of the word and prayer.

    Thanks for opening this can Chuck. Good discussion. Blessings all.

    Reply
    • Ralph Gaily
      Ralph Gaily says:

      Let’s hear it for “…trying to go deeper into the basics of word and prayer”…. and, “…not jumping on board with the latest church trends…..”, but rather, “….being led to do some new thing in ministry that wasn’t based on reading about it somewhere”. True shepherds don’t have to be rocket-scientist-psychology-experts in moving masses of people in the latest short-cut direction…. just a humble leader who knows the terrain, loves his sheep, and feeds and protects them as he goes before them on their way, all together, to their Owner. ….the shortest distance between two points is still a straight line.

      Reply
  12. Jim Jacobson
    Jim Jacobson says:

    I resisted the term for quite a while, to me it seemed like just a change in language that was associated with selling books from really trendy authors.
    I think it is a rejection of traditional evangelical/fundie practice and programs, some of which I think needs to be rejected. Too many churches are on a mission to take care of themselves and not be involved too much outside the box. After all, they have programs and salaries to maintain.
    I still don’t like using the term, but I get the need to change the focus.

    Reply
  13. Craig Quam
    Craig Quam says:

    Great article chuck! I too always thought it ironic that someone would name their church or movement Mars Hill when it was the least fruitful ministry of the Apostle Paul’s entire life? The notion that we must speak the worlds language ( use profanity or vulgar gutter speech to reach this generation) a very unbiblical idea and very dangerous. I too am so tired of all this Missional Bla Bla Bla. As a missionary looking in from the outside it seems to me that much of the American church has become so gimmicky. what’s the latest buzzword, gimmick, trick to draw in the masses or appear to be in touch with the latest cultural trends. What the church needs is to be in touch with the living God and all else will flow from that! Acts 2:42-47

    Reply
    • Matt Kottman
      Matt Kottman says:

      Craig,
      I certainly agree that we should not use profanity to try and reach people, however being ‘missional’ does not imply the use of profanity. Maybe some people out there may say, they use profanity because they are missional, but I would argue at that point, they are loosing sight of the mission.

      I agree with you that we need to be people who walk with the living God and know him. The demonstration of the Spirit in power is the fruit of knowing him to be sure. But if contextualization to a culture and speaking in terms they understand is dangerous (in itslef), why was the New Testament written in Koine?

      Reply

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