Missional Tribe – Not Just Another Use of the Word “Missional”

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.

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6 thoughts on “Missional Tribe – Not Just Another Use of the Word “Missional”

  1. Grace,

    I’m having a little trouble getting my head around this. It seems a bit counter-intuitive to me- to what i am personally trying to be about. I see the knowing where to go for relevant missional stuff aspect of it and understand that. But… another group that you have to join if you want to be recognized…? It strikes me as somewhat exclusive at a time when I find myself looking for ways to make my life and the church as I’m part of it more inclusive in every way.

    I suppose it’s a facebook world and everybody knows you have to join to be anybody. I’m just having a hard time getting comfortable with it.

  2. Good morning Cindy. Great question. Those are the same kind of thoughts I would have and that I am sure others are wondering about.

    I see Missional Tribe as a location more than as a club to join. Due to the nature of the internet, there is an initial registration, however, there is no intent for exclusion, just the necessary spam-type safeguards.

    The only recognition intended on the site will be the recognition of familiarity that occurs over a process of time as people show up and interact with one another.

    I don’t see it as an attempt to organize relationships, but rather as an opportunity to facilitate relationships around a common interest. The effort and intent to create this site has had a flavor of preparing for an open house, not an invitation-only party.

    The real intent of the site is to feature the grassroots aspect of missional living. It is easy for that aspect of missional to be lost among missional discussions that are more institutional, theoretical, or academic.

    The site will be shaped by the participation of the members whether they are well known or completely unknown. The well-known voices are already heard in many places, but the stories of the average joe are not being heard in the blogosphere.

    So yes, there is an intention to focus the missional conversation where it can be easily found and where it can be easily accessed by everyone.

    I hope that makes sense, and please feel free to further interact with these thoughts.

    The social networking aspect of it is very interesting. Being new to facebook also, I am amazed at how viral social networking is.

  3. “The site will be shaped by the participation of the members whether they are well known are completely unknown. The well-known voices are already heard in many places, but the stories of the average joe are not being heard in the blogosphere.”

    You’re quite right. If you can accomplish this it will be noteworthy. I hope you can.

  4. I didn’t know that missional was one of the current words of the church. Its seems to me that most traditional churches have the focus of bringing people to their thing whatever it happens to be at the moment. To me this is more like what was happening at the tower of Babel – they were gathering together to make a name for themselves. The dispersing that God accomplished there is similar to what he did in Jerusalem when a persecution arose in the book of Acts when everyone was dispersed and went out spreading the gospel.

  5. kim,
    Missional is a shift away from the attractional way of doing church. I agree that dispersion is much closer to God’s intention for the church.

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