Missional, or to be the missional, an ultimate goal(telos) that so many of our churches pursue with utmost importance is in my opinion a sad reality of where they are. For a church to solely focus it’s energy on proclaiming being missional and educating others on being missional, has already lost the battle. Being a recovering baptist and also one who would identify being a participant in the missional movement, it has been a long time for me to realize the inadequacies of such isolated focus. I over the years have amassed tremendous books on the title and the idea of being missional. Book after book about reordering and restructuring our whole system of Ecclesiology has flowed through my hands and my mind over a period of five years. But it ultimately has led me to this realization or revelation of where I reside now. The problem is not the pursuit of being a missional church, but the error in our teaching and disclepeship that such deliberate intentional focus has to be made. What do I mean?
The church exists with mission, just as Adam and Eve had mission in the beginning, the church has had mission since it’s initiation those thousands of years ago. Knowing this truth, and simple truth, one proclaimed in the book of Acts in it’s beginning.
Acts 1:8 “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”
It says here simply, when the Holy Spirit comes upon you, you will have mission, there is no need to focus all of the churches efforts on this, it should come naturally. However; I do realize the past years of bull horn evangelism, and hell and brimstone, that people need to be educated on what mission really means. But the fact of the matter is, a church that directs all of it’s efforts on this sole ideology, is being only as effective as it necessary need to continue to teach this natural response. Again, a missional church is one that is carrying the word to others by being witnesses after the Spirits descent or indwelling on them, and though they may need educating on a loving way of doing so, they do not solely need to hear this theology over and over again. This being said let me say before the misunderstanding of what I am saying is portrayed into an attack or a form of heresy, I find nothing wrong with the missional movement. But this should be automatic, not because it’s implanted in them when the spirit enters their life, but because it was and still is being model by others. Every church should be missional, but those who focus all of their efforts and energy on this key principle probably are not modeling it themselves. For the constant reeducation that is needed, shows effortlessly that others in their church do not model such a life, hence the need to teach this elementary teaching over and over again.
That does not go to say that those churches who do not teach missional theology have it all together, as if everyone has got it. No, by no means! In fact the whole missional movement broke away from such places that were inward focused instead of outward, and began this movement that we call missional…however if mission is being done in and through the body (the church) then this important praxis of our lives will be taught, but it will not be the churches sole purpose and its sole perceived reality. It will in fact be ingrained into, or “second nature,” as NT Wright would say, our churches as they are and not as we continue to hope them to be.
From here we can move on and the in-complacent people who reside in these churches will once again be fed, not that it is the Pastor’s sole responsibility to feed them, but it is part. A place that I have come to find myself in my recent months, that I understand, comprehend, and speak fluently the language of missional theology and Ecclesiology, but we never remotely speak about other things. This inability to move on from this teaching will ultimately be one’s own demise, as an older church that does not know how to implement any other type of worship and fails to reach a younger generation will surely die.