Or in other words, what I am thinking about today...
One of the things that I love about the blogosphere is finding others who have put into words thoughts and ideas that I am attempting to grasp. Today, I would like to pull together a few of those thoughts from others that are contributing to my understanding of being missional.
In processing Brother Maynard's extensive thoughts on being missional, one of the points that really struck me was the idea that being missional is an individual response. It is not something to be delegated. It is not a stylistic approach or an add-on program to the way we do church, even in emerging/missional churches.
Allow me to quote some of his phrases concerning this, and please refer back to his post Understanding Missional for the entire context of these quotes.
Individual missional response:
"To be truly missional though, a church would “send” everyone to live incarnationally."
"The missional imperative or universal mandate does not delegate well. Every believer is already among those to whom they are sent..."
"This individual response is for me an essential aspect of what it means to be missional."
"Since missional engagement is a personal response by a believer to the Missio Dei, any one believer can act missionally."
A corporate expression of mission:
"As such, any definition of missional which requires a program or a host organization is at odds with the ways in which I use the word."
"When the mandate is viewed as primarily a corporate one, delegation of its fulfillment is possible…"
"...the effort is delegated and paid for from the common church coffers. It becomes the duty of some to fill the coffers, and the duty of others to do the work with support from the coffers."
Along those lines, Bob Roberts, in his post What is Missional?, talks about the tendency to compartmentalize missions into organizational, programmatic activity.
"We didn’t mean to, but over the years we have compartmentlized missions–and it’s a huge mistake. It slows down and impedes the Great Commission. We’ve comparmentalized it as one of the many important things a church does. We’ve compartmentalized it organizationally and institutionally apart from the whole. The beauty of the Kingdom is it’s impossible to compartmentalize it. It’s the esssense of all of it. It’s the life, Kingdom in, which leads to personal transformation, and then the ministry, Kingdom out, which leads to community, family, and “other” transformation."
Alan Knox describes this tendency to compartmentalize and delegate in his post, Am I Against Church Programs? Again, it would be valuable to read these quotes in the context of the entire post.
"These programs and traditions, while probably started in order to help believers keep the commands of God, tend to replace the commands of God - either consciously or unconsciously - in the minds of the believers.
...furthermore, attendance or participation neither equates with obedience nor do they preclude the individual's responsibility."
Alan goes on to quote his friend Eric from Hammer and Nail:
"I think one reason people outside the church may not see a living faith within the church is that we often rely on church programs to accomplish the work the individuals should be doing...Programs, whether good or not so good, often lead people into shirking their personal responsibility to serve others by thinking that the church program will take care of it."
Sonja adds this in the comment thread of that post:
"...in many respects the church has become very like the state. We have come to rely on church programs to take care of things in much the way that we rely on state program to take care of things...individuals shirk their responsibility to "love their neighbor" by giving to the church and hoping the church will handle the messiness of it all."
To be clear, I am not suggesting an individualistic Christian walk. I am however saying that we each bear a personal responsibility in fulfilling the missional mandate. Being missional requires removing ourselves from the dualistic mentality of church activity versus missional activity. Missional living is a part of our everyday lifestyle rather than something we append, attend, or attach to our life in a progammatic way.