Rick at “The Blind Beggar” suggested a synchroblog to discuss the definition of the term “missional” (see his post “Call for Missional Synchroblog“). To be honest, I don’t know how much I’ll be able to add to this discussion. I’ve only recently begun to consider the meaning and implications of being missional. However, I’m looking forward to reading the other posts, and I encourage my readers to read and consider what other people are saying about the term “missional”.
When I was growing up, the “regional” airport in a large city near us decided that it wanted to steal some of the air traffic away from ATL (Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport). Over several years, there were studies and consultants and budgets and votes. Eventually, the airport made a huge decision – they decided to change their name from “regional airport” to “international airport” – as if changing the name would change who they were.
I think many followers of Jesus Christ may be attempting to add “missional” to whatever they already doing. But, adding the label “missional” to their meetings and programs does not make them missional. So, what does “missional” mean?
Several bloggers will be posting and defending their definitions of the term “missional”. To be completely honest, I don’t know exactly what it means. Instead of offering my own definition of “missional”, I thought I would throw a few ingredients into the stew (so to speak). In other words, whatever “missional” means or how “missional” is applied to someone’s life, I think it should include these things (not a comprehensive list):
Gospel: “Missional” is dependent upon the Gospel – the good news of Jesus Christ. I’m not talking about a “gospel presentation”. I’m talking about living a life that is reconciled to God through the finished work of Jesus Christ and the continuing work of his Spirit. It means recognizing that just as God has reconciled us to himself, he desires to reconcile “all things” to himself.
Relationship: “Missional” is relational. I don’t see any other way around it. God includes his children in his mission toward other people. It is a relational mission – both relationship with God and relationship with one another and relationship to the world.
Intentionality: “Missional” requires intentionality. I do not see how someone can be accidentally missional. This does not mean that missional activities are always pre-planned – they can be spontaneous. But, spontaneous acts of mission can still be intentional.
Cost: “Missional” is costly. This does not mean that you are being missional by only giving money. However, it does mean that living a missional life will cost you money, time, and energy, among other things. It may even cost your reputation (especially among religious types).
Love: When I originally wrote this post a couple of weeks ago, I did not include “love” as an ingredient in my missional stew. Why? Because I thought “love” was obvious. However, after further thought, I think “love” needs to be a part of any definition of “missional” – both the love of God and the love of others – both the love of other believers and the love of those who are not followers of Jesus.
Like I said earlier, I’m looking forward to reading more posts that actually define the term “missional”. I hope that many of them include some of these ideas.
Here is a list of the 50 bloggers who are defining the term “missional” as part of this synchroblog: