Recently there has been a lot of great conversation going on about the word “missional.” It is a very necessary conversation as this word continues to be watered down to the point it’s like my iced tea yesterday after sitting in the sun for two hours. In our culture there are many buzzwords that are birthed with a specific meaning that are then either highjacked or broadened to the point they mean nothing and then they pass away. I credit Alan Hirsch, one of the people who has popularized this term, with realizing that this was happening to the word “missional” and trying to do something about it.
Read Alan’s post on this here.
From my perspective (which is the only perspective I have) one of the biggest reasons missional has become marginalized is that it is understood as a church thing rather than a people of God thing. A church is not missional because it has an outreach program–even if it’s an extensive outreach program. It seems so many churches now want to highlight the ways they’re reaching out to the community and then call themselves missional. Now those programs may contribute to the mission of Christ in that church, but unless the people of God in that church have apprehended a missional mind, heart, and way of living that is exhibited throughout their life (not just when they go to volunteer at the outreach event) then the church is not missional.
Somehow we have arrived at a place in Western Christianity where discipleship is outsourced to the staff and programs of a church rather than it being a part of every Christ-follower’s life. All a person has to do is show up on Sunday morning and then participate in some of what the church has going on and BAM that’s discipleship. But it’s not. That can be a helpful part of discipleship, but being conformed to the image of Christ is not a program or something a pastor can force on you, you have to open yourself and allow Jesus to transform you. In this transformation we will become missional because we will apprehend the heart of God for the world and will seek to join him in that mission in every moment of life. As that happens churches will be missional because the people are missional.