Missional church and the Reformation

10 06 2008

Todd sent me the following article by Reggie McNeal he read on the Catalyst web site yesterday. 

The rise of the missional church is the most significant development in the church since the Reformation. Its early days have largely been characterized by deconstruction and discontinuity. This is the early way of movements. We now have enough track record to begin to say something of what it is, not just what it is not.

Several fundamental convictions underlie the missional church expression. Among these are four key assumptions that shape missional thinking and engagement. They are helpful for understanding the motivations of the missional movement.

God is Up to Something New
Almost every week when I speak someone comes up to me during a break and asks if I’ve read this or that or met so-and-so, because “the two of you are saying the same thing.” Usually after admitting that I haven’t, I tell them “we’re just working from the same Source!” The Spirit is speaking across the distributive network. Scales are falling from people’s eyes. We are recognizing new ways of God’s work in the world, even seeing insights into scripture that cause us to wonder why we haven’t seen that before.

This has happened before. God’s conversation with Abraham gifted the world with a monotheistic faith that reshaped the spiritual landscape of humanity. His bush and mountain-top meetings with Moses revealed his heart for his people. God’s dialogues with Paul captured the heart of the Pharisee to imbue the movement with a missional spirit. Ever since the conversation became Incarnation, the talk about God has never been the same. The missional church reflects a new conversation that God is having with us about the nature of the church and its role in the world.

God Doesn’t Postpone His Mission Waiting on the Church to Get It
After all, God initiated his mission before he created the church, so he doesn’t feel compelled to match his movements with church readiness or approval. When it comes to new spiritual frontiers and breakthroughs the church often lags behind the Spirit. The subtext of the first half of the book of Acts is the church playing catch-up to the Spirit. The disciples were shocked when the Samaritans got cut in on the deal. Then, even wilder, Gentiles entered the narrative just two chapters later! The Spirit is again at work in extraordinary ways. Not wanting to be left behind, missional followers of Jesus are running to catch up.

The Kingdom is a Future that Provokes a Crisis
The in-breaking of God in fresh ways, helping the church to see its role differently, is being driven by a future kingdom reality that constantly seeks to invade the present. The missional church movement reflects a new dimension of kingdom advance, an intensified outbreak. This provokes a crisis for those who encounter it, just as it did in the days when Jesus walked the planet. Leaders of churches are being confronted with a choice of whether or not they choose to enter the kingdom. Once they do, the old world will increasingly become alien to them, causing further disruption between their lives and ministry agendas and the preoccupations of those enmeshed in the church-age worldview. Kingdom agents have no other option than to be subversive, attempting to introduce kingdom realities to every domain of life and culture, including even the church.

Missional Expression Can Grow Out of the Current Church but is Not Limited to it
The missional agenda literally only requires that Jesus-followers live missionally. This means that some are keeping their church “membership” or even their leadership roles while they are making the transition. Others do not choose that path. They are creating other ways of living out their faith, some in forming missional communities while others focus on marketplace expression (the arena of earliest Christian movement expansion). God is also sending his missionaries to the church to woo them into his mission.

These realities pose significant questions for you as a follower of Jesus and as a leader. Are you participating in the missional movement? How? In what ways are you letting those in your leadership constellation “in on” this work of God? What are you changing or what will you need to change in your life and ministry to be missionally engaged?




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