Wednesday, 21 March 2007

What is a missional church?

I've had a growing awareness, for a while, that our evangelism reaches, for the most part, only a semi-churched/religious segment of the population. This is basically because the culture of church, the way we preach and the questions we raise do not adequately connect with the culture, idolatries and worldview of a post-Christian, post-Christendom society. I can't help feeling that our evangelism is often like a hand-grenade lobbed into an enemy bunker which the enemy left a long time ago. The segment that we are reaching is shrinking all the time, while there are huge swathes of people completely unengaged with church or the gospel. As a result, our culture is becoming increasingly removed from the gospel and the Christian worldview.

The idea of being missional is really about trying to be more radical in the way we engage with our culture in proclaiming Christ. It says that something more profound must happen to church if we are to reach the world. Now, it's easier to critique than it is to give an answer, and I confess that I'm really finding my way forward here. But I want to share some thoughts about what it might mean to be missional:

1. We address the culture's felt needs, stories, questions and preoccupations properly with the gospel. And we take their objections to the gospel seriously.
2. We use normal, everyday language and concepts.
3. We make everything we do (i.e. every service) an opportunity for unbelievers to come in and understand. So, there is an 'evangelistic authenticity' about everything that we do.
4. We see that the gospel is always relevant to believers and unbelievers.
5. We do not make 'Christian assumptions' in church and preaching.
6. We train Christians to live out their faith in every area of their life i.e. work, culture etc. We show how Christ is Lord of the whole of life.
7. We seek to develop a counter-culture (i.e. we have social/community ethics about racism, justice, power etc), and not just Bible studies and 'Christian meetings'.
8. We are humble i.e. repent of derogatory, arrogant ways of referring to non-Christians and the non-Christian culture.
9. We don't define ourselves primarily in relation to other churches/groups, but in relation to 'the world.'
10. We engage in concrete acts of love/service to our community.