Do a Google search on the word “missional” and you’ll get 1,200,000 hits. Search “missional” at Amazon and 1,238 missional products appear before your very eyes. It’s the Western Church word of the moment. The key to all that ails the church. The promise of a bright future – beginning with a bold tomorrow. That is, if we only knew what it meant.
This recent quote from a church website accurately demonstrates “missional” confusion.
We have made a commitment to being a Missional Church, reaching into the community and inviting people to come and experience what we are doing. We should have “standing room only” Services every Sunday. There should be a buzz in the Community about [church name removed] and all the wonderful activities available for most people’s needs and wishes.
Well, not so much.
Last June (2008), in response to this kind of confusion, Friend of Missional’s Rick Meigs challenged the blogosphere to respond to the question, “What is Missional?”
“I have a continuing concern that the term missional has become over used and wrongly used.
“I think it is time to make a bigger effort to reclaim the term, a term which describe what happens when you and I replace the “come to us” invitations with a “go to them” life. A life where “the way of Jesus” informs and radically transforms our existence to one wholly focused on sacrificially living for him and others and where we adopt a missionary stance in relation to our culture. It speaks of the very nature of the Jesus follower.
“To help reclaim it, I propose a synchronized blog for Monday, June 23rd on the topic, ‘What is Missional?'”
50 bloggers responded with their understanding of the word – and a lot more conversation was generated both in real life and on the web. Brother Maynard did a great summary of the missional excitement. There was a sense of accomplishment – the 50 people and the hundreds of commentors had refocused the word missional.
But then each blogger wrote other posts – dislodging their Synchroblog posts from the lead position. Soon these posts disappeared from the front pages of 50 blogs – only accessible if one knew exactly what you were looking for. The sense of accomplishment was ephemeral.
A few of us who had met face-to-face at the Allelon Missional Order event in Seabeck, WA in October, 2007, talked about the best way to keep those posts and ideas evergreen. We’d also been part of the Wikiklesia Project: Voices of the Virtual World. Perhaps a book would be effective. By the fall, seven of us were in ongoing conversation around how best to serve the “missional” mission – Sonja Andrews, Peggy Brown, Kingdom Grace, Bill Kinnon, Brother Maynard, Rick Meigs, and Brad Sargent.
Clay Shirky’s Here Comes Everybody and Seth Godin’s Tribes helped to inform our discussions. Missional Tribe’s first iteration was as a Wiki. Then the mini “blogstorm” around Out of Ur’s Dan Kimball Missional results post convinced us that what the conversation needed was a place to discuss, share stories, watch videos, ask questions, and grow together. Where all of this can easily be tagged and indexed for rapid access in the future. The Missional Tribe social network was born (www.missionaltribe.org).
Less than two months after the decision to launch a social network, the beta of the Missional Tribe site launches today – Epiphany, on the church calendar. We would like you to join us in being a part of this non-hierarchical network.
From simply reading and commenting on posts and in the Forums, to creating your own Missional Tribe blog or posting a video – Missional Tribe is a place to track and expand the missional conversation – as we follow the Lord back into the neighborhoods where he has strategically placed each one of us.
To become involved, join the tribe at www.missionaltribe.org.