Tuesday, August 4, 2009

The Importance of Missional

As I mentioned before, I am not about to die for a term. Certainly, the term missional has its problems. One of the most significant problems with the term is that it is trendy. Things that are trendy tend to be both trivial and temporary. Someone, I am not sure who, once said of fashion, that young people are obsessed with it and old people are bored with it. The same probably could be said with theological and church terms like “missional.” That is why Tullian Tchividjian, pastor of Coral Ridge Presbyterian Church, adopted the term "missionary-minded." By that, he means that every Christian should have a missionary mindset as he lives out his life in his community.

Still, I believe the term missional communicates several things that are important to us in the evangelical and Reformed world. Whatever term one chooses to use, these are some of the important thoughts that need to be expressed:

1. It is a reminder that the church as a body, and Christians as individual members of this body, are on a mission. We are the “sent out” people of God. The Greek word for church, ecclesia, means called out. The idea is that we have been called out of the world as God’s beloved, chosen people. Yet, as the whole thrust of Scripture shows, God never calls you in unless He also sends you out. Jesus said, “So send I you.” We tend to live in our Christian ghetto, forgetting that we are to carry out the mission of Christ.

2. It is a wake up call to the reality that we are in a post-Christian culture. Christendom is over in the west. I don’t think the majority of Christians realize this. We need to view our own culture as the mission field. Certainly, the rest of the Christian world does. So, if you were going to send missionaries to America, to your state, and your city, what would you expect those missionaries to do? How would those missionaries seek to embody the gospel in such a way as to reach the people of your community for Christ and enfold them into the Church? Well, God has sent you and has sent your church. You and your church should be doing what missionaries do. Failure to take this seriously is to be unfaithful to the God who redeemed you.

3. Missional is a call to return to biblical, holistic ministry of both word and deed. The fundamentalist/modernist split resulted in two significant errors for us as conservative believers: 1) It resulted in moralistic/self-righteous preaching in the church. 2) It resulted in the loss of biblical deed ministry. The liberals engaged in the “social gospel.” Certainly, some in the missional movement seem more concern for feeding the poor than the salvation of souls. However, the proper response to this is not to go in the other ditch. If one traces the history of the church and the history of missions up until the 20th century, it seems obvious that the church has always been engaged in both word and deed ministry. Missional seeks a recovery of this.

1 comment:

Christopher said...

YES to all three points. That is where we need to be! I don't know my recent church/missions history, but looking back at Reformed men like George Whitefield and George Mueller, two of the most powerful evangelists the English speaking world has ever known, we see that we have a rich history of our fathers practicing what they preached. Both founded orphanages as a result of taking their theology seriously. If we've lost that drive in PCA circles, shame on us. Let's repent and get back to the basics.