Missional Church explained in two minutes

Everyone’s going on about the “Missional Church” these days. It seems that anyone who wants a bestselling churchy book slaps the word “missional” on the front somewhere. But what does that word mean? This brief video pretty much sums it all up in two minutes.

And what does this mean for Anglicans?

One could well argue, as I think I heard Reggie McNeal say not long ago, that “missional church” really should be understood as redundant. We never should have gotten internally focused in the first place. Doing so was turning away from our participation on God’s mission. The church was given a mission, which we’ve largely ignored. “Missional church” is about reminding us why we exist as a church.

It’s all about focus. Missional churches are rooted towards those outside the church. Seen this way, the first Oxford movement parishes could be understood as missional. Once you take the sacraments and incarnational theology seriously, you are driven to feed people — to treat people, made in God’s image, with dignity.

While it’s mostly the jeans-and-PowerPoint set that tend toward missional behavior, there’s nothing inherent in the connection between a particular worship style and a missional orientation. Brian McLaren, speaking at the Lambeth Conference, told the assembled bishops that Anglicanism has a special charism that makes us ready to become a missional church in our time. Our incarnational approach and transcendent worship is a perfect foundation for a missional orientation.

We can hang on to the essence of our faith, as well we should. But we need to be willing to set aside most of what we think we know about HOW we run a church. Ask many Episcopalians, and they’ll tell you pastoral care is the most important thing a local church should do. And I’ll agree, but that pastoral care must be for the whole world, not just for the members of the club. Moreover, that pastoral care shouldn’t just be offered by the clergy, but by every member of the church.

So when someone starts talking about a missional church approach, don’t assume they’re talking about worship style. Missional churches worry more about the state of the world than about the state of the church. When you think about it, that’s how Jesus carried on. Maybe this isn’t so much as fad, as it is a return to our roots as followers of Jesus — who set out to save the world, not to make the members of the club feel good.

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2 Responses

  1. KJ says:

    Excellent thoughts, Scott, which, of course, means I’m in full agreement.

    What is “new” should never have been allowed to become old. Truly it is about being church and not doing church, but I find that when engaged in conversations regarding “missional” or “emergence,” others assume the discussion is about worship style or jettisoning the creeds (!), which suggests to me that there are those who are using the “hot” words to again go with an “inward” focus, alienating those necessary for what we are to be about.

  1. March 10, 2010

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