I am not really looking for a fight, but as my kids are fond of saying, “He started it!” :)
Just to let you know, this is intended to be a friendly discussion and to further dialog within the missional conversation.
I noticed Frank’s tendency to contrast his message to generalizations about missional thought in his online writing, so I was not surprised to run across this in his latest book. To be fair, this is an insignificant portion of the book. However, the fact that I encountered it in the preface set the stage for how I experienced the book.
It does not matter to me whether someone identifies with the term missional. However, I do take issue with statements that broadly misrepresent missional thought. For example:
Here is the tragedy. Few christians speak about God’s eternal purpose today, few unveil the ageless purposes of our God, including scores of missional books.
Agreed that this may not be the emphasis, however I do not believe it is lacking in the overall heart or understanding of missional thought.
The engine of being missional is not religious duty, guilt, condemnation, or ambition.
No it isn’t. I have not seen being missional presented this way and would also reject the idea of being missional taught from this perspective.
A great deal of missional thinking today(?) sees the church as a voluntary association for the saved.
I don’t know what this means and why it is being attributed to missional thought.
Any missional endeavor that doesn’t put the church front and center falls short of God’s central thought.
Purpose and identity are inextricably linked in our understanding of who we are as the people of God.
Failure to understand that God’s ultimate purpose begins in Genesis 1 before the fall, not in Genesis 3 after the fall has been the fundamental flaw of much of the modern day missional movement.
From what I understand, these are Frank’s concerns:
- As we rethink the mission of the church, he “fears it will lack depth and focus if God’s ageless purpose does not fuel it.”
- We must, “embrace his love. Only then will our mission have spiritual grounding. This is the first step toward fulfilling God’s ageless purpose.”
- “The secret to Christian living is to live by an indwelling Lord. Only by such living can we ever hope to fulfill God’s mission and purpose in the earth.”
- “It seems to me that spiritual things have replaced the person of Christ…He is the…incarnation of all spiritual truths.”
I appreciate the uniqueness of Frank’s perspective. I believe that the emphasis that he brings to missional thought is important.
In the spirit of valuing the diversity of spiritual gifts and expression, I would challenge Frank to give missional authors and speakers the benefit of the doubt that they likewise embrace the centrality of Christ and understand the importance of all missional activity being deeply rooted in the indwelling love and life of Christ.
In describing the commission of the church as a dimension that is central to the church, Frank basically describes the essence of being missional.
- The church carries on the earthly ministry of Jesus Christ.
- Jesus showed what the kingdom of God is all about by alleviating human suffering and showing forth what the future kingdom of God looks like…reversing the effects of the curse.
- The church, His body in the world, carries on this ministry.
- It lives and acts in the reality that Jesus Christ is the Lord of the world today.
- The church is commissioned to proclaim and embody the kingdom now.
- The church’s mission has to do with how she displays the Christ who indwells her to those outside of her… how she expresses Christ to the world.
- The church exists…to be a blessing…to bring good news…to be a light to the world.
- The church shows that the Jesus who walked this earth is the same Christ who has taken up residence within her members.
Those are some fabulous missional thoughts Frank!