Friday, April 13, 2007

Already Missional?

Earlier this week, I read this excerpt from Geoff Surrat in a post by Bob Hyatt entitled Attractional with a Side of Missional. I've been thinking about it ever since then:

"Every church I've been around is missional; they all see their members as missionaries in their communities."

Would you say that this is a lived-out reality for most of the church people that you know?

In my experience, I would rephrase that to say,

"Every church believes in evangelism and missions; they would like their members to be missionaries in their communities."

It seems to me that there is a disconnect between what we believe and what we do. Mental assent does not equal action.

Sure we all care about the lost. But when did the lost become a nebulous group? Statistics show that if we've been in the church bubble for any length of time, we no longer have relationships with them.

"The Spirit is moving in marvelous ways again. Movements are being sparked and the established church is just beginning to wake up to itself and its missional calling. But shedding Christendom is no easy task. The transition from Christendom modes to genuinely missional ones will not necessarily be an easy one for most churches and church leaders." -- Alan Hirsch

It seems to me that the realization that we are not already missional would be the first necessary step in waking up to our missional calling.

9 comments:

sonja said...

Ahhh ... well then, it would depend on how one defines missional. Then it would depend on how one reaches out as well. Those definitions and assumptions will drive that conversation.

If we are genuinely interested in presenting Jesus to those who do not know him, then we'll wake up to our missional calling. If we're just interested in appearances, then that's another story indeed.

Julie said...

I've been in a church that wanted to reach its community, but it didn't expect its members to do anything. Sending out postcards and painting the gym - now that would really serve the community and bring people in. How? Oh, it just will. And then if new families showed up, the church families would pull their kids from children's programs so they wouldn't be influenced by those "other kids". But the church sure thought it was reaching out to the community.

But I also see at our current church that a lot of people think they/we are missional because we talk about missional things. But actually "do" missional things, thats too much of a stretch.

sorry can you tell I'm a tad frustrated this morning...

Lily said...

"Sure we all care about the lost. But when did the lost become a nebulous group? Statistics show that if we've been in the church bubble for any length of time, we no longer have relationships with *them*.

I suffered a *big word* brain fart and had to look up nebulous, LOL. Then your statement just about cracked me up. So true.

I think that is easily one definition of what I'm fighting for. Stop fearing those *secular*, *lost*, *worldly* people and go change their lives.

Not that I'm doing that, of course. But I'm getting really good at talking about it. ;-)

So I'm realizing that I'm not naturally "missional". That's a good place to start.

Great post!

Bob said...

Great topic, Grace. There can be a large gulf between stated goals and tangible action. Likewise there is a gulf between the exhortation of the leaders and the action of (some) congregations.

My problem? My direction changed a few years ago from my church to my community. So I interact with my neighbors (hopefully) as a Christian. I perceive that I have a "good reputation" now. But--do I share Christ with them?

Well, how do you share Christ with someone who feels the already know Him (some go to church every week) but you can discern from talking to them that that knowledge hasn't affected their hearts (exhortation-action gap).

In America, it seems it isn't the lost we meet each day, it's the lifeless. Christ (who they "know") is just one more pursuit among many that a "good" person is supposed to have.

Lyn H said...

This is a great topic Grace. I would agree with how you have re-phrased the statement. Even going as far from my own experience to say that some churches think they are missional because they support financially and prayerfully missionaries either locally or internationally. I have similar experiences to what Julie has written about. Again I think it sometimes comes down to the coziness of church. In the UK, the national phone operator used to hav the slogan "it's good to talk" and I think a lot of churches could take that up!


It seems to me that the realization that we are not already missional would be the first necessary step in waking up to our missional calling.
Very good point.

Steven said...

I enjoy your writing. Keep it up.

What do you see as the result of your missional pursuits?. Have you seen transformed lives yet or is the ground too rocky.

grace said...

sonja,
To me that is why missional is more than just a buzz word because its meaning is dependent on each of us defining what it means in a practical way in our lives and actions.

Even though we don't have it all figured out, it seems that there are plenty of people wanting to learn how to express God's mission in tangible and fruitful ways.

Julie,
It really is a stretch and the comfortable routine of church attendance is so ingrained in our thinking. "Shedding Christendom" is one of the most difficult things I've experienced in my growth as a believer. The pull back to what is safe and easy is pretty strong.

Lily,
I literally laughed out loud reading your comment. And then I lost it when my husband read the post and said, "What does nebulous mean?"

I don't know if any of us are naturally missional, and I think that we were taught a Christianity that didn't cost us much. I trust the Spirit can teach us missional living as we make ourselves willing.

paul said...

ithink there is an amazing amount of disconnect in all are lives between thoughts/words/actions - whatever label we stick on ourselves i am pretty sure that we only turn a fraction of the good intentions into action that we might theoreticaly describe or wish for, or aspire to etc...

but then again in what part of our life are we not disconnected?

Isn't that maybe the point of religion - after all its latin roots mean to reconect.

Perhaps it's in part this realisation that we follow God's path of reconnection with him, ourselves and our world and less of how we think we should?

grace said...

Bob,
I certainly relate to what you said. I think it is true that there are people who know about God, but aren't living in the life available to them.

Now that you have built the relationships, I believe it puts you in a better position to discern where God is at work in the hearts of those you know.

Lyn,
I was shocked and somewhat embarrassed when I learned that after all my years of church and being involved in ministry, the concept of living missionally had not been on my radar screen.

I think it would be fairly safe to say that in general, churches have considered missions to be the extent of their missional duty.

Steven,
The life that is being transformed is mine, and sometimes the ground is pretty rocky. :)

My husband and I are attempting to extend our relationship circle to include more nonbelievers. After years of living in the church bubble, it has been an awkward and sometimes fumbling effort at living differently.

Paul,
I really like the point you are making. I agree that reconciliation with God and others is about reconnecting.

We are attempting to follow God's path in this, but sometimes I struggle with finding that path (waiting) instead of jumping into what I think it should be or what others say it should be, and I worry about defaulting to passivity.

And then I remind myself to walk by His Spirit and grace. :)