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Missional is as missional does

Posted by on Mar 22, 2011 in missional | 3 comments

Missional is as missional does

“Stupid is as stupid does” is a famous line from the movie Forrest Gump (along with many other memorable lines).

Recently, I started thinking about the phrase “missional is as missional does.” (If you do a Google search on that phrase, you’ll see that it is not original with me. Several people have tossed around that phrase.)

I’ve never tried to define the term “missional.” Several people who are much better at definitions than me has attempted to put the term “missional” into words. The closest that I ever came to trying to define “missional” was in a post that was part of a synchroblog on the term “missional.” In that blog post (“Missional Stew“), I suggested five ingredients that should be part of any definition of the term: 1) Gospel, 2) relationship, 3) intentionality, 4) cost, and 5) love.

However, I’m realizing that there’s another ingredient in “missional” that needs to be spelled out. That ingredient is “action.” That’s write, missional requires doing something. Missional cannot be defined or understood from a strictly academic or theoretical perspective. Missional without action is not missional.

Thus, the title of this post: missional is as missional does.

Now, it might seem that “action” would be included in some of my other ingredients, like love or intentionality or even cost. But, I’ve learned that those terms are often packed with words and thought, but sometimes are followed by very little action.

The mission of God required action; it requires work – hard work. Thus, a missional life – that is, a life that lives out the mission of God – must be a life of action. And, that action must be on behalf of others.

Let me spell out what I’m saying: Writing books is not missional. Speaking at conferences is not missional. Preaching sermons is not missional. Even publishing a blog is not missional.

“Missional” is found in the ditches and swamps and alleys of life, where people are hurting, in need, confused, depressed, hungry, homeless, oppressed, etc. If missional is related (intimately related, I’d say) to action, then it can only be “taught” through action as well.

This is what the phrase “missional is as missional does” means to me.

What do you think about that phrase? Do you agree?


Comments are closed. If you would like to discuss this post, send an email to alan [at] alanknox [dot] net.

  1. 3-22-2011

    I guess ” the church is as the church does?”

  2. 3-22-2011


    To a point, you are right. The church should be known for what it does as much as what we say we believe. I do think there is a difference though. To be part of the church is dependent upon our relationship with God through Jesus Christ. Obviously, we should respond to that relationship and do certain things as a result.

    However, “missional” is an adjective. We are not automatically missional when we are part of the church. I think being “missional” is part of that response once we are included into Christ’s church.


  3. 3-22-2011

    well stated sir