What being “missional” isn’t. Part 1.

As a way of expanding on my previous post, I read and took a bunch of notes on Michael Frost’s article “More than a Buzz Word: Why the Church shouldn’t make Missional just another trend.” The article can be found in the latest issue of Neue Magazine (Issue 11- Spring 2012). Michael Frost is vice principal of Morling College (Australia) and the founding director of the Tinsley Institute.

Even though this post isn’t a direct “sequel” to my previous one, on why people aren’t missional, I believe it is proper to take a step back and take a look and what it means to be missional. Frost approaches this topic by calling out what some churches and church leaders claim as “missional” but simply isn’t.

Frost’s first point is highlighting when churches “reduce mission to evangelism only.” Frost states the mindset of these churches and church leaders:

We need to become more missional in order to win more people back into our ever-declining churches. What is meant, of course, is that we need to become more evangelistic to attract more converts to our churches.” (Frost, 51.)

Frost states that even though the statement may be correct in its approach to evangelism, it isn’t what it means to be missional. By this definition, states Frost, being “on mission” is reduced to being uber-attractional. Frost declares that the practice and attitude of mission “is rooted in a belief in the kingship of the triune God” (51). Being missional, we can discern, is a practice and a way of living, not a principle by which we arrive at church growth or evangelistic goals.

Frost goes on to state that “God reigns even if not one soul on the face of the Earth acknowledges it” (51). Therefore, being missional isn’t just being evangelistic. Evangelism can be part of it–but it isn’t the whole of living and being a church “on mission.”

Dr. Frost finishes this section of his article by quoting Tim Wright as a summary:

We are called to be part of God’s new creation, called to be agents of the new creation here and now. We are called to model and display that new creation in symphonies and family life, in restorative justice and poetry, in holiness and service to the poor, in politics and painting.

In conclusion, this isn’t the end of this topic. Dr. Frost goes on to expand on being missional for three more sections of the article. However, I would like to leave you with some questions for thought:

  1. Have there been times when you, or your church, have/has reduced being missional to just being evangelistic?
  2. If part of being missional is being called to “model and display that new creation,” then what would that look like in our lives?
  3. To what extent does being missional involves the church’s relationship to the local culture?

I will add some of my own thoughts on these questions on my next post.

Be blessed.

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