In Introducing the Missional Church: What It Is, Why It Matters, How to Become One, authors Alan Roxburgh and M. Scott Boren cast vision for the concept of missional church. I found the book helpful and inspiring, especially parts 2 and 3. In the beginning of the book, they are reluctant to define the exact meaning of missional and instead, almost in the form of parables, tell stories of churches that are acting missionally.
My only point of disagreement with the authors is their caricaturization of “attractional” churches. I believe that some styles of church they deem “attractional” can also be considered to be missional. Churches like Willowcreek and Saddlback, while attracting lots people, created worship and preaching styles and church systems that made them effective missions in their communities.
The challenge to become missional is presented as a challenging but achievable goal. Churches that want to become missional 1) acknowledge that they are not currently engaging their communities and 2) adopt God’s biblical hopes and dreams for their community. They then takes steps to engage their communities, usually outside of the church walls, by showing hospitality to their neighbors and serving them.
In the second half of the book, the authors offer practical application for church leaders to lead their congregations toward being missional churches. Their suggestions are realistic. They acknowledge how far many churches have drifted from their mission and begin by simply suggesting that church leaders intentionally meet people in their community.
The authors trust that building a relationship with their neighbors will inspire church leaders to see the needs of their world and lead their churches to meet those needs. As the church begins to view itself as a mission, just as it would view a foreign mission, the church has begun to live missionally.
- The pastor can cast vision to the congregation in sermons and through other communication by saying things like:
“We exist for people who are not yet here. We are a church for the unchurched, irreligious and nominally religious people. We exist for the benefit of the world. God wants to love the world through us. God blessed Abraham to be a blessing to all the people of the world. God sent Jonah to guide the people of Ninevah. Jesus said that He came “to seek and save the lost” (Luke 19v10).”
- To make it practical, church leaders ask, “What is God doing in our ministry context, and how can we join God in our community?”
- Then we look for ways, as a church, as small groups, and as families to get involved in what God is doing in our community.
- To build momentum, we tell stories about how we are partnering with God and about the life change and community change we are seeing. Stories change worldviews, and the church becomes missional.