Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Marks of a Missional Church

If Seeker-Sensitive was the bright young thing of the American Church in the '90's, then it's hipper young cousin, Missional, has elbowed it decisively from center stage, with it's plaid-sleeved, tattoed arm. Missional has become this decade's pass-word for pastoral street-cred. The Missional guys, of course, roll their eyes at the behemoth of the seeker-sensitive mega church, dismissing it with the now scandalous church status of Attractional!

I may sound cynical, but really, I believe that the Missional Movement has stumbled over God's heart for His church, for every believer to see themselves as commissioned by Jesus to make disciples. They have got the point that so many before have missed. However,I feel that many have labored the point, giving in to their deconstructionist tendencies. Their conversations tend to drift towards forms of church, rather than a re-orientation of disciples' hearts, minds and lives to live on mission with Jesus.

Let me give you an example. I know a man who was employed part time as a college pastor of a church in my city. He also worked part time as a manager in a health store. Frustrated with his inability to reach unchurched young adults, he resigned from the church, started a missional church in his house and took up a full-time job at the health store. He was applauded by many for leaving the establishment and embarking on a more missional journey. I remember him telling me at the start how exciting it was just to eat around a table, with no preaching or pressure, just come as you are and talk about life and perspectives about the bible. I saw him in his store yesterday, 3 years after he began. He is a good man, generous and kind. But after 3 years and much frustration he talked of calling it a day with his missional church. He said that the moment he called the people around his table to commit to some kind of mission they disappeared.

Now I don't want to dismiss that form, just because of his one story. My point is though, that there is no silver bullet when it comes to a form of church that will ensure people become missional. Whatever the form, it still remains for leaders to preach the Gospel to their people, lead them with vision and call them to mission. A dining-room table with good food, fare-trade coffee and mood-lighting may feel more missional, but it's not necessarily so.

So what are the Marks of a Missional Church irrespective of form?
Tim Keller in his book Center Church gives 6 very helpful marks, and I want to add one of mine.
1) A church that recognizes and repents of the idols of it's culture.
2) A church that communicates the Gospel in a language that it's culture can understand.
3) A church in which every believer is equipped to live as a missionary to their culture.
4) A church in which unbelievers can belong in some way before they believe or know how to behave.
5) A church that lives as an alternative community for the good of thew city
6) A church that practices unity with other churches in it's city
and mine:
7) A church in which every believer is expectant for Holy Spirit power encounters with unbelievers.

How would you mark your life and your church?

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