So what IS Missional Christianity?
It’s a question I hear regularly (twice in this last week alone). There seems to be confusion about how and why there is a need to be ‘missional’ and some people wonder if it’s a repainting or reworking of traditional Christianity.
I’d argue that it’s not so much a repainting as it is a recapturing. It’s calling our attention back to the early church: before buildings, before programs, and before a solidified structure made the church an institution instead of a movement.
At it’s core, it’s about equipping the people of God to put words and action to their faith.
Missional Christianity (as opposed to attractional Christianity) shifts the focus of the message from “come and see” to “go and do.” It allows people to live intently as a Christian in work, play, family life, and community involvement.
Christianity in America has become a spectator sport. You come, watch, and consume passively. But, as we will look at later, it’s also become largely ineffective. Alan Hirsch notes that current church paradigms are only capable of reaching 40% of the general population. This means that a full 60% of people will not reach faith in Jesus with the current way church is being done. So how does the paradigm need to change? An even more important question to ask is if we are willing to change it.
We’ve made evangelism primarily about creating new fans when we use phrases like, “You should come to my church on Sunday.” It communicates, even if unintentional, that we can’t tell you why we believe what we do, just that we believe in something. What others hear is that Jesus is great, but void of practical and observable change, it’s a meaningless conversation for them to have. People don’t want to primarily hear that Jesus is great, they want to see it.
So when they ask why they should go to church, they don’t respond well to comments like, “it’s fun”, “powerful sermons”, or “enjoyable people.”
Are any of these things bad? Of course not, but Jesus called us to more than being entertaining or nice. He called us to join him in his mission to restore and redeem all things.
It’s much less common to hear a loving and provocative response about how Jesus has shaped and helped them. We’ve taught people that effective faith is passive acceptance, instead of active participation. Our culture today is primarily image based, not word based, and that means that our paradigm for evangelism needs to change: people don’t want to hear truth, they want to see it and experience it.
So over the next week, we are going to be looking at how to make the transition from institutional to missional from a personal perspective. We will be looking at steps to communicating the Gospel, personal giftedness, and how to have active participation in the work of God. It will be a chance to not only answer the question, “What is Missional Christianity?” but be a time to find your place in God’s kingdom and begin practicing simple steps of faith everyday.