Developing Missional Churches
The members of a Classis Commissioned Pastor Support Team were talking about their appreciation for the work of Church Leadership Center. One member said, “CLC provides quality, missionally minded leadership.” Later in the discussion, someone referred to CLC as “launching missionally minded, equipped people into ministry.”
These are affirming words. We work at having a missional perspective.
A missional perspective means viewing the church as mission. J. Todd Billings writes about a pastor friend who started making changes so that his church would be more intentionally missional. Various church members became involved in leading worship, and it was “suggested that the church advertise in the yellow pages and think of ways to reach those without a church home.
The response of the church’s board of Elders was a surprise. “’Leading the Sunday service is what we’re paying you for,’ they said. The elders also objected to any attempts to make the church’s life more visible to the community. ‘You need to pay attention to our needs.’ Although church attendance was dropping, the Elders were locked into an internal mode, fixated on members’ desires rather than on God’s ministry in the world” (Christianity Today, March 5 2008, Vol. 52, No. 3, p. 56 ).
The above gets to the heart of what it means for a church to be missional. We need to ask these questions: 1) To what degree is our church “locked into an internal mode?” and 2) What value do we place upon reaching out to others and upon “God’s ministry in the world?”
One definition of a missional church is given by Ronald Carlson: “A missional church is an authentic community of faith that primarily directs its ministry focus outward toward the context in which it is located and to the broader world beyond.” (https://www.abhms.org/missional_church/docs/MCT_Definition_Missional_Church.pdf)
- It views its own context as a constantly changing mission field;
- It is both engaged in and supportive of missions;
- It recognizes that its mission includes both the Great Commission (making new disciples) and the Great Commandment (loving God and loving others as self);
- It recognizes all people as being both the “subject” and “object” of God’s mission;
- It is engaged in the transformation of persons, churches, communities, and cultures;
- It multiplies churches, disciples, and mission.
The above provides a beginning summary. We also emphasize that the missional message includes being able to describe terms such as the following: baptism, Christ, communion, faith, forgiveness, God the Father, grace, the Holy Spirit, mercy, prayer, repentance, resurrection, salvation, Scripture, service, sin, witness, worship, along with additional words that are basic to evangelistic outreach and church planting.