There is nothing new about the missional movement. It is a “renewed theological vision of the church on mission, serving as a sign, servant and foretaste of the kingdom (reign) of God.”
An article from the Missio Alliance, written by the likes of Ed Stetzer, David Fitch, and Tim Keller, explains,
“It is first necessary to be clear about what missional does not mean. Missional is not synonymous with movements attempting to culturally contextualize Christianity, implement church growth, or engage in social action. The word missional can encompass all of the above, but it is not limited to any one of these.”
It is about God. It is about what God is doing in the world. It is about what God wants to do through His people in the world. If God is a missionary God (theology) and is at work in the world (missiology), then we are His people who are sent into the world to be a community (ecclesiology) that bears witness to Him in everything that we do.
I am often asked how we live this out. It is the wrong question at one level as it is crucial that we discern what God is doing and participate with Him. However, I too have looked for frameworks through which to help my church to live this out. One such framework through which to see how we demonstrate a holistic witness is through the way Jesus explains the schema—we love God with all of our hearts, minds, and strength, and we love our neighbours as we love ourselves (one another).
How do we bear witness through loving God with all of our hearts? Worship itself is a form of witness. So we help our people to worship the only One who is worthy of our worship (instead of all other idols we have created to worship—sport for example) and then we help them to understand what worship really is.
I have found it to be important to ask, “What are we doing that is inadvertently producing consumers instead of ambassadors?” Many have drifted into the idea that we gather to receive from our King instead of what we bring to our King. Through proper worship, all people will see that He is Lord.
How do we bear witness through loving God with all of our minds? We help people to live out the reality that scripture is not a set of propositions to just believe, but rather it is the story of God at work in and through His people redeeming all things.
Romans 12 is crucial. Are we just helping people to understand the text or are we seeing people transformed by the word of God? As we, His people, hear Him speaking to us, we live as salt and light in the midst of the world, being formed into His image. This demands excellent preaching and teaching, and an understanding of what the text is meant to do—point us towards Jesus.
How do we bearwitness through loving God with all of our strength? We help our people to live as stewards of time, treasure, talents, and terra. We live at such a pace in our days that we often miss what God wants to do in and through us. We have such debt in our land that we are often unable to be as generous as we could. We use our gifts and talents for our own benefit, and we are using up the earth’s resources at an alarming rate.
But, we as Christ followers are called to be different. Time, Treasure, Talents, and Terra—are all His, and we have been entrusted to demonstrate God’s greatness through being stewards of that which He has entrusted us with. What would it be like if all Christians in North America lived without hurry, seeing all of time as a gift of God to be used to demonstrate a deep level of trust in Him? People would notice.
How do we bear witness to God through loving our neighbours? We help our people to have the heart of God towards those who do not know Him. We help our people learn to relate to their neighbours. We teach our people to share the story of God and how He has transformed their lives. This is not easy in our culture.
I recently heard a story of a young woman who even though she was 20, had never heard of Adam and Eve. Her family had wanted nothing to do with God and she had no understanding of the biblical story. She did not want to be “evangelized.” Yet when asked what her favorite movie was, she did not hesitate to answer, “The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe.” When she was told about the author and then asked whom her favorite character was, once again she did not hesitate to answer, “Aslan.”
There may be a lesson in this for us.
How do we bear witness to God through loving one another? One of the greatest opportunities we have to bear witness to God today is through community. People are looking for ways in which to belong, and when they see a genuine level of community, they are drawn deeply to it.
We must work to become communities of faith, not just collections of church attenders. We must learn to live as a Faithful Presence (order this new David Fitch book) in the midst of an increasingly secular culture. It is through our life together, and the depth of relationships we have in Christ, that we bear witness to our triune God.
So what could you do next to help your church to travel this missional road? I would love to help you with this in three ways.
1. Encourage your regional minister to create a training day where he can work with me to bring in a guest speaker/practitioner to tell their story and encourage you on the road.
2. Email me and let’s set up a time to work through a 30-minute conversation where I can give you a tool that will not only help you to self assess where you are on the journey, but give you suggestions as to next steps.
3. Enlist in some of our training through the International Office to help churches and leaders become more missional. Blue Ocean helps our leaders to grapple with the theology of what it means to be missional (a yearly cohort that meets three times) and Ethos helps our churches to move towards a more missional DNA (a two-year journey of formation).
For more information on any of these three, please feel free to call me at 778-863-4471 or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.