Sunday, September 23, 2012

What does “missional” mean?

What does “missional” mean?

A mission in the literal sense is a person or group of people that goes to a region for a specific purpose.  In business, a mission is merely the goal of the operations of that organization.  During the days of exploration in the 16th to 19th centuries, a mission was a name for a church that was planted in a certain area to spread the Christian religion (usually of the Catholic faith).  Missions now in the religious realm are usually set plans for certain people to go to third world countries and spread the Gospel of Jesus. With these thoughts in mind, “missional” is a combination of these with some extra ideas that are Gospel inspired and have more of a community mindset.

When people hear of mission in a church setting they automatically think of sending people to a small island in the Eastern Pacific Ocean and attempting to convert native tribes into faithful believers.  This is an important part of the church’s foreign outreach ministry and certainly people are called by God to do this but “missional” is a term used in religion to define a community based ministry.  A great way to explain missional church is to say instead of bringing people into your church building, you are going into the community teaching people about Jesus which is essentially taking church to them.  

The term “church” should further be clarified as well.  Church is thought of as a building with a steeple where people go to services on Sunday and have weddings.  The biblical meaning of church has a different connotation to it altogether.  The church is described in scripture as a body of people that is called to teach others of the Good News of Jesus Christ.  No buildings, no steeples.  The modern church as it pertains to scripture is a body of people that are brought together through traditions, denominations, social obligations, and special programs.  Where is the Holy Spirit? Why is the community not the central point of the religion?

The missional church is then described as; a community of followers of Jesus Christ, fulfilling the Great Commission as they go out into their communities teaching them about the Good News found in the New Testament of the Bible, not defined by a physical location but extending a loving arm to all those in need, religion is not a convenience hobby but a way of living, using the parables of Jesus as your guide for life’s decisions, focusing your life on God’s Kingdom instead of your own self-gains, and refer to church as the welcoming body of believers that is rooted in their communities.

This idea is not intended on destroying the established church but is to change it once again.  A New Reformation is in order to withdraw ourselves from our traditions and realize the true calling as followers of Jesus.  The Missional Reformation is a necessary change that is needed in the American Christian churches and churches around the world.  In our entitlement era of society, America has been one of the worst offenders at not fulfilling our call to ministry. We have a great opportunity as Americans to use the great resources that have been provided for us to answer our calling.

One popular phrase that is thrown around in the missional ministry field is “gospel intentionality”.  This simply means to live a life with the intent of fulfilling the Great Commission. This, along with “missional”, is thrown around all too often and can be used by people and “churches” to attract new believers but should be held to a high regard.

Evangelism, street preaching, and door-to-door ministries should not be confused with “missional”.  Though these ideas can be utilized in many functions throughout the missional and traditional churches, they do not represent the core of the missional church.  Involving one’s self in the lives of your neighbors and actively engaging in the needs of your community through ministry is the root of the missional church.  Our mission is to get to know people and understanding their spiritual needs and teaching them that through Jesus Christ we have redemption, forgiveness, a comfort knowing that God is our rock and we can fully rely on Him.

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