Addendum to Revealing Results

While considering your comments in the previous post, I ran across this post by John Santic that I believe has some bearing on this discussion.

“What is interesting to note is how popular the term “missional” has become. This popularity has spurned a question within me that I have sought to answer throughout the gathering. The question is: “To what degree has the term “missional” been co-opted by motives for numerical church growth”? 

My assessment…is that the term is being co-opted by some; however, there is a strong movement away from seeing “missional” as a programmatic tweak to an existing model and more a systemic change and critique to church growth assumptions.

How do I know this? People are exhausted by the tweaking and pulling of levers to never experience the depths of discipleship needed for missional transformation.” 

What do you think?  Is the meaning of the word being diluted to the degree that it is no longer meaningful?  Does it matter?

I’ll jump into the discussion as soon as I get a chance.

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14 thoughts on “Addendum to Revealing Results

  1. I just want to go on record–I’ve already made the move to “Incarnational”. “Missional” is so….January/February.

    Get with the times!!

    (And I’m already scouting the next word…)

  2. I don’t think most people have a really good grasp for what missional means. It’s in the infancy stage without a lot of display so it is easy to pass by and as Bob said, just scout for the next word.

    Will it be co-opted? Sure. And we’re likely to get a Willow Creek version of missional. But at least we’re exploring.

  3. Grace…you’re so…gracious. Thanks for the link. I think the term is meaningful if it is embraced for what it is…not something that is new and the latest (this compulsion for newness is something the market driven nature of our culture conditions us with)…but it is in fact very old. The potential for it to be bastardized and co-opted might kick start the quest for new language, but if there is a faithful landing somewhere it will be toward the very heart and nature of the Trinity that in essence should be reflected in the church….whatever it’s called.

    thanks again

  4. This is an interesting question. And it brings up something I struggle to understand.

    If “missional” becomes about performance, then we’ve got a missionally-driven life. And somehow it feels like the ‘new’ version of an old way of being. (Or rather, doing). That’s kind of why I like the concept of “incarnational” as well. Because it models the way Jesus did it – “I can do NOTHING apart from the Father. I only do what I see my Father doing” and living as a branch, connected to the vine. Completing our ‘mission’ out of a place of the rest of God (Hebrews 4). I don’t mean ‘rest’ as ‘inactivity’, but just that our activity is motivated by His presence within us (as His temples) and His love for those in need (vs. our love, or desire to serve, as Wayne eloquently put it).

    On the one hand, I think so many (including myself) have been troubled by the fact that many have substituted church life (attendance to meetings, participation in small groups and such) for actual mission. The belief that going to church and doing church stuff fulfills our purpose/mission is troubling!

    On the other hand, I don’t want to be reactionary and end up performance-driven. (At the same time, I don’t want this to be some sort of excuse for not obeying the commands of Jesus already laid out in His Word – this is why I’m torn, and struggle to understand). I guess I just want to be Christ-driven…

  5. For me, we are moving from the performance driven, programmed life that we’ve lived to a life about authentic community, about authentic life. This just can happen in the seeker sensitive churches, where it was driven by a consumer model.

    We are not to be driven about consumer driven model but by the model of Jesus. That is self-giving sacrifice. This is going to be painful, radical change.

    I’m worried I’m creating an us/them mentality but the reality is that many of those involved in missional community or have moved paradigm have not done so becuase of a programme, they have done it becuase of conviction. Conviction that we are failing at the mission that God called us. Pain at how they have been treated by mainstream christians who are comfortable in thier middle class churches. I know that this is partly what has driven me to where I stand today about the church.

    I do want the whole church in western nations to get it, to realise Gods call. If the whole church looked radically different in ten years, and is living out christs radical call, I would be happy that what I’m doing now has had an impact.

  6. Erin, If Bob is right, that missional is history, then I got first dibs on the word post-missional. I’ve also got a book entitled Post-Missional, a coast to coast conference tour, and a great video in the works. I’ve got some great ideas on what you can do with your life!

  7. Erin, the truth is I wish I had something to offer to others so that their life would be the best but all I’ve got right now is cynicism and Jesus and I’m not sure the two are compatible.

    Grace, truth will always get watered down or distorted with our personal biases. As leaders we all make mistakes and misuse the truth that God has given us for our own ends. Its easy to become missionally-driven (great comment Sarah), because we are driven people. I think I’ve even seen some who are incarnationally-driven. Its too easy for the latest movement to simply become a prefix to our weaknesses. I think this is why the NT deals more with our character/sin issues than it does with methodology and church structures.

    My neighbor doesn’t care if I’m missional in the right kind of way, he just wants to know that I love him. That my home is a safe place for him. Have we become too complicated?

  8. David – I completely agree with you. You can see my cynicism from my sarcastic comment. But I do think that Jesus can cope with the cynical.

    Like you said, my neighbor doesn’t care how I’m missional…neither does he care what I call it.

    And for that I have always hated to put a label on it because then it just becomes a commodity, like you pointed out earlier with your “book, DVD and US tour”. Something we can copyright and market.

  9. jonathan,
    I agree about the lack of understanding about what missional really means. I think that lack of understanding is what will allow it to be carelessly used as an adjective to validate activity that may or may not be missional.

    John,
    Thanks for provoking more thoughts about this. May we continue to pursue the faithful reflection regardless of the name or label of the moment.

    erin,
    ;) I like having smilies.

    I totally agree with your cynicism that within every movement, there will be attempt to commodify and market. However, I am also optimistic that some will continue to express and participate in what God is doing without the need to control it.

    Sarah,
    I can understand and relate to what you are saying. I’ve had a bit of discussion at Fr’nklin’s blog about this. He shares your concern that this would become a type of performance or works-driven movement.

    Personally, I believe that it is dependent on each of us to allow the transformation of our hearts until missional and incarnational are deeply rooted as expressions of worship flowing out of our love for God.

    This is a process, not an overnight decision. I pray daily for God’s heart to be revealed through me, for the ability to see with His eyes, for Christ’s love to be expressed in my words and actions. I fail often, but I am not willing to settle for a lifestyle that doesn’t reflect God’s mission.

    Nathanael,
    I share your thoughts that this is a movement based in conviction and your prayer that the whole church would realize God’s call.

    David,
    I loved your point about the character issues. I believe as we become as people what God intended, loving others in the way He intended, the church structure stuff won’t matter. The church should be a people who accurately reflect His kingdom, regardless of organization or structure.

  10. Grace, I’m afraid I’ve entered this discussion much too late. I found this little tidbit this evening but notice the posting date:

    “Monday, December 13, 2004 – 11:41:10
    One of the highlights of the trip to the USA was a round table discussion with a bunch of Senior Pastors regarding the developmental processes that are occuring in the western church. It amazes me just how fast things are moving. We have moved from modernity to post modernity, then from emergent to post emergent, and then from missional to post missional and now we are in a time of post-intentionality.

    The post-intentional church really has me very excited. Thougths? Are we really post-intentional in our theological leanings, in our praxis and in our incarnational living?

    Challenging times. I have asked a wise old head for their thoughts on the subject and will post soon…
    posted by Andrew Wallis”

    I’m afraid I’m still trying to understand the reformation.

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