These days everyone has the vernacular down. The word “missional” has been trending for the last 15 years among post-modern, culturally sensitive followers of Jesus. We’re changing the way we communicate with the un-churched by trying not to sound so religious. That’s great, but changing what we say versus changing what we do are two very different things. I’m afraid that many “Missional Communities ” in the west have only adopted the popular definitions of mission and don’t reflect its true practice.
So what does it mean to be missional? Alan Hirsch defines missional as a way of thinking. It’s a paradigm of how we see and express the Church/Ecclesia of Christ.
So what does it look like to live missionaly? Ed Stetzer and David Putnam in their book, “Breaking the Missional Code” (2006) breaks it down like this:
• From programs to processes
• From demographics to discernment
• From models to missions
• From attractional to incarnational
• From uniformity to diversity
• From professional to passionate
• From seating to sending
• From decisions to disciples
• From additional to exponential
• From monuments to movements
I love these definitions and descriptions! All of these principles are backed by sound theology and practical missions strategy. Every missional community in the states would agree with these as well. But just because we agree with descriptions, tweet them and post them on our sites doesn’t make us missional. What we do speaks much louder than what we say. Our actions show that we are more in love with the idea of mission than actually living missionally.
Are we really thinking and living missionally if…?
• We still do church the way we’ve always done it with four walls and a big band.
• We still have attractional programs that cater to the crowd.
• We still have paid professionals that do most of the work.
• We still just add members and don’t make disciples.
• We still have a maintenance mentality rather than a movement mentality.
• We still only fellowship with people who talk like us, dress like us and live like us.
The missional movement has to be defined by what we do rather than what we tweet. We don’t need to speak a familiar language to relate with popular culture, we just need to live in a way that reflects the Kingdom culture.