From time to time someone pushing back on the missional movement idea will write a blog post or web article. Criticism comes in forms and directions. With the proliferation of “missional” over the last decade or so the word has certainly become watered down in some ways and too broad in others. I don’t stress about this much because I am just thankful that the church is getting her eyes and feet turned outward. Where I do get a bit concerned is when missional becomes just a label or paint color that leaders use because they don’t want to be seen as missing out on the latest thing that seems to be hot and happening.
If I could only say one thing to leaders who use missional as a fresh term for outreach and evangelism it would be this— Missional doesn’t visit the neighborhood. It moves into the neighborhood. Missional doesn’t evangelize. It does the hard work of an evangelist. Missional churches are not primarily churches that do lots of outreach events. Those activities may come, and they should. But what makes a missional church is that it is made up of people that are on mission in their individual lives and in their communal activity as a faith collective.
“Serving events can be great primers and training camps for developing and sharpening the missional heart, but these alone will fail to develop full-fledged missional movements in our fellowships. Churches that organize themselves in a missional orientation view mission as something that happens right here and right now through all members of the church all of the time. There is a huge difference in a church organizing itself around church services, sermons, and great worship events over and against a church that takes up its position and mandate as a missionary for its culture. This has nothing to do with church size—mega, medium-size, or a smaller church.”[i]
So, to be missional is way more than just applying the tag line “missional” to what you have always done. Missional is not a twist on outreach and evangelism. It is a twist (a major one) on doing life.