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The Post "Missional" Church

IStock_000005657754XSmallOk, so maybe the title is provocative, but the word "missional" continues to be used almost like a battering ram on church communities, and frankly, the word has gone way beyond it's used by date! 

Not the concept mind you, but as Alan Hirsch stated...

"The word 'missional' over the years has tended to become very fluid and as it was quickly co-opted by those wishing to find new and trendy tags for what they themselves were doing, be they missional or not."

When I interviewed for Opawa Baptist Church, the associate pastor at the time was hooked on the word "missional". He wanted to hear me say it, he wanted me hear it and seeing it was an absolute perogative. Opawa was propped up as being a "missional" church. It wasn't. 

Leslie Newbiggin stated that...

 “The Church is sent into the world to continue that which he (Jesus) came to do, in the power of the same Spirit, reconciling people to God.”

The key word being "reconcile". 

David Horrox takes it a step further. In his book , "The 'Missional Church': A Model for Canadian Churches?" David writes...

"The church should stop mimicking the surrounding culture and become an alternative community, with a different set of beliefs, values and behaviors."

In all honesty, most churches and leaders that tag themselves as "missional" aren't much different from the surrounding culture. There is really nothing about them that's alternative. They dress cool. Apple is their trademark. And they spend $5 for the privilege of drinking dirty water in fashionable cafes all the while protesting at the perceived injustices imposed on the poor Palestinians. In fact, the loudest gripe I hear from them is that the church is too "different" from the surrounding culture. Really? But aren't we an alternative community, with a different set of beliefs, values and behaviours. And isn't our main job reconciling people to God? Frankly the "missional" movement is falling into the very same errors the traditional church is faulted with. As Peter Rollins states so well...

“The argument is made that naming God is never really naming God but only naming our understanding of God. To take our ideas of the divine and hold them as if they correspond to the reality of God is thus to construct a conceptual idol built from the materials of our mind.” 

Just keep it real people. The concept of the Missio Dei, the sending of God, is the activity of God himself and that mission should be understood as being derived from the very nature of God, not by our naming it or idolising it.

That church communities could embody the mission of God, as He leads, without trendifying it or compromising it, is itself a challenge. Maybe it's time we focus more on the Missio Dei and less on the Actio Homo Loquax. 

 

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