Today I am kicking off a series of blogs dealing with the concept of "missional" church or ministry. In this series I am going to explore:
1. What it means to be missional;
2. The missional critique of the established church in the US;
3. The critique of the missional movement;
4. Why I am a believer in the missional method;
5. The implications and challenges of mission.
My goal is to keep this discussion simple and succinct. Therefore, I will not be filling up these blogs with footnotes, but will simply paraphrase and state openly that these ideas are not mine (unless otherwise noted). I will however offer one book suggestion for readers each post, and in these books you'll find all the ideas I'm drawing on. Finally, in these posts you will see the basic theological framework for Burning Bush Communities... That is, why we do what we do.
So, let's begin with a few basic beliefs of the missional movement...
The very first thing that the missional movement claims is that God Himself has a mission. We believe that God's love, which is intrinsic to His being (Father, Son and Holy Spirit), moves God to act in the world as an expression of that love. We believe that scripture bears witness to this mission. Traditionally, this concept is called the missio Dei.
Point #1: God has a mission!
The next claim we make is that the church is a fruit of God's mission, and exists to participate in God's mission. What's critically important here is that God's mission precedes the church and provides the church with its reason to exist. I believe Leslie Newbigin said, "The church doesn't have a mission in the world; the God of mission has a church in the world." While this seems like wordplay, the distinction here is important. Mission isn't a program or an aspect of what the church does or even a specific type of activity. Mission is who we are, and should encompass all we do. The church is an expression of God's mission.
Point #2: The church in its totality is an expression of God's mission, and exists for the purpose of God's mission.
We'll pick up there next time!
Book Suggestion: The Mission of God by Christopher J.H. Wright