Do We Need The Term “Missional”?

          As much as I use the word I would have to say no. I recognize the confusion which exists over the word, a confusion that persists in spite of repeated attempts by many to define the term. I have found, no surprise here, that many who dislike the term missional and its implications also have deep-seated opposition to contextualization. In spite of that I find both terms helpful, not perfect, but needed in ecclesial environments where conservatism has reigned and most change is regarded with deep suspicion.

          In the end some of the challenges presented by the foes of missional and contextualization are needed, and in my mind welcome, with the added benefit that the interaction may provide movement and needed change in the lives and ministries of detractors. You see, when you challenge missional and contextualization you will not leave the arena unscathed. You may remain unconvinced but perhaps persuaded that some things have been addressed that cry out for reflection and renewal which will lead to a greater engagement in the task before us as God’s missionary people. We don't need the term but we need the missional.

3 Responses to “Do We Need The Term “Missional”?”

  1. Yes we need the word!  Cmon man – it is cool and hip…and after all, that's what we're after right?  just kidding!
    Seriously though, we have decided to embrace the word missional…but more important, the concept and lifestyle if you will, of being missional.  We have adopted being missional as one of our core distinctives.
    It gives us tremendous opportunity to teach our people what we are to be about.  We use it as a verb…not an adjective…if that makes any sense.  Being missional helps our people understand and investigate opportunities that present themselves in their everyday lives.  I think it helps us get through our thick heads that each one of us are to be out living with the purpose that God has called us to…and to reject the notion that a missional lifestyle is for the select 'called' (i.e., that's what we give money to missionaries for, or that is what soup kitchens are for).
    But you're right, it is more than just a word and in the end, it is not about the word.  It is about the church being the word/missional.
    Just this morning, I passed a lady on the side of the road and it was obvious she was without food or work.  I didn't have anything on me at the moment, but was headed to the building that our church meets in.  I went to the building, dug into our limited food pantry, grabbed $10 from our petty cash and returned to her.  I had the chance to bless her with 2 bags of groceries and a McDonald's arch card, and more importantly on the road side for 10 minutes, share the blessed gospel of Jesus Christ with her.
    I don't recount that story to brag on myself (all honor and glory belongs to Christ), but as we preach, teach and live out missional living, God brings about obvious opportunities to fulfill mission…just has we will be learning @ GPC this weekend through the Good Samaritan story in Luke.

  2. Not only do they have a deep-seated opposition towards contextualization, but also towards social involvement because of the fear of the social gospel……


  3. Ross: We also use the word "missional" and believe it is helpful.

    Joel: You're right about the social involvement. But I don't know how you avoid it with the example of the GS that Ross mentioned. I think it's easier to avoid it when you don't have to see poverty, homelessness, injustice, and violence every day. Just pull into the suburban two or three-car garage, turn on the 50" plasma, and forgetaboutit.

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