“Walking along the beach of Lake Galilee, Jesus saw two brothers: Simon (later called Peter) and Andrew. They were fishing, throwing their nets into the lake. It was their regular work. Jesus said to them, “Come with me. I’ll make a new kind of fisherman out of you. I’ll show you how to catch men and women instead of perch and bass.” They didn’t ask questions, but simply dropped their nets and followed.” Matthew 4:18-20 (MSG)
Missional Church has been quite the buzz in the evangelical church world for most of the last decade. The missional church is not a church with a mission. All churches have a mission. Stated or unstated, all churches practice some kind of mission. The missional church, however is church as mission. In the words of Darrell Guder, the challenge “is to move from a church with mission to a missional church.”
Missional is a way of living, not an affiliation or activity. To think missionally means seeing all life as a way to be engaged with the mission of God in the world. The question to ask ourselves is: “Where is God at work in the world and how can I participate in it?”
Going “missional” will require that you make three shifts, both in your thinking and in your behavior:
· From internal to external in terms of ministry focus
· From program development to people development in terms of core activity
· From church-based to kingdom-based in terms of leadership agenda
To be externally focused rather than internally focused means that the needs of the community we are called to serve become our priority. It means that the people outside the church become as important as the people inside the church.
In order to reverse the continual decline in most congregations many look to yet another “program” to do the trick. However, there is no magic bullet when it comes to programs solving our decline. Rather, we must re-claim our true calling “to make disciples.” We spend a lot of time, energy and money getting people in our pews but very little of any of those things involving them in serious discipleship. Jesus was not looking for church members; rather he was looking for disciples.
Kingdom-based leadership is simply helping people discover their gifts and then encouraging them to use them for ministry. Too often we only ask people to serve on committees and boards as “warm bodies” with no training and no understanding of what they are ask to do or how it fits into the mission of the church. Kingdom-based leaders know and understand how and why their ministry is connected to the fulfillment of the churches mission.
The typical church scorecard for how well we are doing focuses on these things: how many, how often, how much. The missional church scorecard focuses on these things: externally focused ministry, people development efforts, kingdom-oriented leadership.
The missional church is not a what but a who. When we think of church in what mode, we focus on something that exists apart from people, some “out there” that people join and attend and support. Thinking about church in the who mode focuses on what it means to be the people of God. The central task is developing great followers of Jesus. It is a call to stop “doing church” and start “being church”.
Interestingly, what was said about the impact of the early church in “turning the world upside down” was not “what great preaching” or “what great worship” or “what a beautiful building” but rather “see how they love one another.”
Missional church requires nothing less than a rethinking of our identity and our practice, of who we are and what we do.
Any congregation that practices loving one another, both inside the church and outside the church walls and does that really well, others will notice and want to come and see what we are doing and be a part of it.
May we be engaged in the God’s mission to transform the world through grace, forgiveness, compassion, justice, peace and love for all.
Together in the journey,
Don + Susan