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More of the Missional Church article

I recently referenced this article on the Urbana website by Jim Thomas that is, simply enough, called The Missional Church. Notice the six new realities of the missional church that he points out. And then read closely his sythesis of some of the seminal ideas of being a missional church

In his book The Present Future, Reggie McNeal describes the missional church in terms of six "new realities" and related questions:

The collapse of the church culture.
a) Wrong question: How do we do church better?
b) Tough question: How do we reconvert from "churchianity" to Christianity?

The shift from church growth to kingdom growth.
a) Wrong question: How do we grow this church?
b) Tough question: How do we transform our community?

A new reformation: Releasing God's people.
a) Wrong question: How do we turn members into ministers?
b) Tough question: How do we turn members into missionaries?

The return to spiritual formation.
a) Wrong question: How do we develop church members?
b) Tough question: How do we develop followers of Jesus?

The shift from planning to preparation.
a) Wrong question: How do we plan for the future?
b) Tough question: How do we prepare for the future?

The rise of apostolic leadership.
a) Wrong question: How do we develop leaders for church work?
b) Tough question: How do we develop leaders for the Christian movement?

Just as Minatrea said none of the churches he visited was fully missional, I would say that none of the materials I've read on missional churches fully describes what I believe missional should mean. In Minatrea and McNeal, I found the descriptions to tend toward a conventional view of a suburban middle class evangelical church. Their concepts of a missional church were triumphant, with a posture of surety in answers, in the clarity of those who need them, and in how to inform them of the answers. The contrasting posture is one of confidence balanced with humility, and action balanced with learning. They did not address the need in the church for racial reconciliation and the witness that unity (and disunity) are to a watching world. Their ideas of witness tended heavily toward verbal proclamation.

Thus, they did not present the perspective of integral mission. [ italics mine ]

In emphasizing verbal proclamation, they were individual-oriented and did not talk about the corporate witness of the church and of the variety of spiritual gifts that contribute to the corporate work of the church. Finally, they affirmed the role of small groups in church life, but mostly for the purposes of transparency, accountability, and encouragement.

They did not conceive of small groups forming around mission, which is an important and powerful way of making a church more missional. [ italics mine ]

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