Ed Stetzer has rightly become concerned with how the word "missional" seems to have become a buzz word - rather than an actual theological term with legitimate meaning. To that end, with a number of colleagues, Ed set up missionSHIFT to explore how best to frame our understanding of "missional." A number of us, who were part of the What is Missional Syncroblog? that Rick Meigs (The Blind Beggar / Friend of Missional / Missional Tribe) instigated, began talking with Ed about how blogdom could aid this discussion. This first post, instigated by Rick is the beginning of that "bloggers live aid".
David Fitch once said that most missional thought leaders "emphasize incarnational forms of church over attractional; the church as Missio Dei over mission as program; organic forms of missionary living in neighborhoods over ministry set in a building." Yet many others seem to add the term to the current program they are attempting to promote or make cool sounding. As Ed Stetzer noted, "The word missional is used to bludgeon legalism and antinomianism alike. To some it is a sign of freedom from all established forms of the church and to others it is a degeneration into syncretism with the world."
So, do we abandon the term and move on? Not yet, because the concept behind missional is really big and words help us when we can agree on their definitions— or at least we can agree what we mean when we use a word.
Over the next few weeks, we want to discuss how "missional" happens in our lives and in the life of the church. It will be discussed here as well as at other places including the blogs listed below. As the conversation moves forward, we hope you will move from blog to blog and offer insights from the scriptures and how you see missional happening in your local community.
By doing this, we can all be a part of a specific missional conversation. As many of you know, there are several working toward a "Missional Manifesto" that will be rolled out as a part of the missionSHIFT conference on July 12-15. The intent with the manifesto is to say, "This is what we mean when we talk about being missional." It is not the manifesto's intent (or within its ability) to say this is what everyone should think or say about the term, but reflects a hope that it will help us all be clearer and more mission-shaped in our own thinking and practice.
Conversation on the grassroots level is important, so be sure to join in here and at the other blogs and let's see where God take us. Here is the team that will be leading the conversation:
Rick Meigs: The Blind Beggar
Bill Kinnon: kinnon.tv
Brent Toderash (Brother Maynard): Subversive Influence
Scot McKnight: Jesus Creed
David Fitch: Reclaiming the Mission
Jared Wilson: The Gospel-Driven Church
Jonathan Dodson: Creation Project
So for the sake of conversation today, leave a comment about with your own 1-sentence definition of "missional.” And, in the weeks to come, we will be addressing certain points or issues in the missional conversation that need consideration and perhaps clarity.