Abductive Columns

Friday, October 28, 2005

Missional Church: Ministering in a Post-Christian Context

The phrase “missional church” simply suggests that the church finds its calling within the mission of God. On the face, this statement seems both overly obvious and conspicuously vague. “Of course the church is about the mission of God! Wait a minute. What do you mean by mission of God? Is that defined anywhere? What is God’s mission?”

In the American church experience, the “place where certain things happens” notion has been wed to the twin cultural values of consumer capitalism and individualism to produce a church that functions primarily as “a vendor of religious goods and services.” Here the church attracts “members” by addressing the expressed needs of individuals. We often evaluate the experience of church (almost exclusively thought of in terms of going to corporate worship) by what “I got out of it,” or by how much “I enjoyed it.” The measure of a church’s effectiveness is the spiritual progress or enjoyment of the individual. A missional church, in contrast, sees the church as a community sent on a mission, or as a missional outpost for the reign of God. As will be made apparent below, this shift from a “vendor” orientation to a missional church orientation carries dramatic implications.

The conceptual move from “vendor of religions goods and services” to “outpost for the reign of God” is necessary, proponents of the missional church suggest, given the dramatic cultural changes we have experienced recently in North America. We minister in a post-Christian context—a time when the culture no longer knows our language, honors our stories, or privileges our symbols. In this new context, our churches must recognize the need for a missionary engagement within the North American culture. We must reorient our ministries to reflect the mission interests of God.
from New Wineskins Magazine; Missional Church by Mark Love


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