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Contrasting Missional and Church Growth Perspectives

Missiology.org has a great article by Gailyn Van Rheenen that contrasts the Missional approach to ministry with the Church Growth approach. It's an interesting contrast that will certainly spark reflection on the nature of a theological approach to ministry verses an anthropological approach:

"I pray that churches will become missional, i.e., theologically-formed, Christ-centered, Spirit-led fellowships who seek to faithfully incarnate the purposes of Christ. Missional churches define themselves as bodies formed by the calling and sending of God and reflecting the redemptive reign of God in Christ. They are unique communities in the world created by God through the Spirit as both holy and human. Missional leaders, likewise, reflect the calling and sending of God. They minister with humility recognizing themselves as "jars of clay" who finitely seek to enter into what God is already doing in his world.

The missional approach to ministry stands in obvious contrast to the traditional Church Growth perspective. Church Growth thinking has brought much to the practice of foreign and domestic missions. Donald McGavran, the father of Church Growth, encouraged missionaries to personally minister among unbelievers rather than attempt to draw people into Western-style mission enclaves or mission stations. He rightly emphasized the missionary nature of the local church and the need for pioneer evangelism among peoples ready to hear the gospel. He called for the incisive evaluation of missions. Above all, he taught us to employ tools from the social sciences to analyze culture and to use this analysis to develop penetrating strategies for reaching both searchers and skeptics with the gospel of Christ."

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