What Does it Mean to Be Missional?

Discussion in 'General Baptist Discussions' started by PastorSBC1303, May 31, 2006.

  1. PastorSBC1303

    PastorSBC1303
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    As I read several of the SBC blogs around I continue to hear the word "missional." I was just curious how all of you view the term. Any thoughts?
     
  2. USN2Pulpit

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    At the risk of oversimplifying, doesn't it mean simply to be "on mission?"

    I believe this refers to a church (or individuals) who place proper priority on the Great Commission. They do not continually look toward their own needs, but instead are busy doing things that carry the gospel message to others.
     
  3. Tom Bryant

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    There is alot of discussion over a definition.

    Marty Duren said this on the Missional Baptist Blog http://www.stevekmccoy.com/sbc/2006/05/missional_madne.html

    "To be missional means that we recognize ourselves, as the people of God, to be a sent people, the mission of God and the presence of Christ in the world. It means that we see our congregations as not only sending churches, but sent churches themselves."

    There is a discussion about it from a week or so ago.
     
  4. Marcia

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    I have seen a good use of this term, but unfortunately, postmoderns in the emerging church are using it to mean that we just let see Christ in us through works - there is no emphasis on giving the gospel. It's great to let others see Christ in us - they should! -- but the Bible says that faith comes by hearing the word of God. We can't be missional without giving the gospel, though it should be done in love.

    Here's one explanation that sounds okay:
    http://www.gracepeace.com/Document3.htm
    Of course, they are pretty much setting "rules" here for sharing the gospel. I agree with the obvious parts of this (like avoiding pompous or church talk), but not all. I am not sure about the last point.

    I may look for some more pomo takes on "missional" and post a few excerpts of those.
     
  5. Marcia

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    Missional is a big buzz word for postmoderns, and for them, being missional does not mean talking about sin or hell (especially the latter!) but just telling stories. They say that Jesus told stories. Well, he also made some pretty harsh statements as well, like being cast into outer darkness. Pomos say that Jesus did not give propositional truths, but of course, he did (I wonder how they classify "I am the way, the truth, and the life, and no one comes to the Father except by me")?

    This looks like a pomo-leaning site:
    http://www.theofframp.org/missional_comm.html

    I read through most of this and I can see their points -- that Christians are looking more and more like the world and need to take their faith seriously as far as how they live it. But I do not agree with all their points or their way of solving the problem. I am not sure of the phrase "Jesus' apprentices" which I have seen cropping up a lot lately.

    And then of course, we have the pomo man of the hour himself, Brian McLaren, and his book, A Generous Orthodoxy: Why I Am a Missional, Evangelical, Post/Protestant, Liberal/Conservative, Mystical/Poetic, Biblical, Charismatic/Contemplative, Fundamentalist/Calvinist, Anabaptist/Anglican, Methodist, Catholic, Green, Incarnational, Depressed-yet-Hopeful, Emergent, Unfinished CHRISTIAN.

    Note that the first word he uses to describe himself is "missional."

    I have not read this book, but have read reviews and heard discussions on it from numerous people, including pastors and those in ministry whom I respect, and according to them, there are huge problems with McLaren.

    So I personally hesitate to use this word unless I am going to define it, and I would want whoever is using it to say what they mean by it since it is a postmodern buzz word.
     
  6. All about Grace

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    Marcie,

    You have taken one side of the term (the more extreme branch of the emerging church). The term should not be defined exclusively in these categories. For a good overview of the term and mindset, read Mark Driscoll's Radical Reformission or Stetzer's Breaking the missional code. There are several books out there now on the missional church.

    Missional has to do with contextualization and contending. There is a more detailed discussion about this issue in the Theology thread under "All things to all men".
     
  7. RandR

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    Marcia,
    Upon which primary sources are you basing your claims?

    Certainly not Driscoll. Certainly not Guder. Certainly not Newbigin. Certainly not Van Gelder. Certainly not McNeal. Certainly not Stetzer. Certainly not McManus. (Shall I continue?)
     
  8. RandR

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    Yes, I shall...

    Certainly not Bauckham. Certainly not Hunsberger. Certainly not Minatrea. Certainly not Kostenberger. Certainly not Frost and Hirsch. Certainly not Keller.

    A (singular) review of McLaren. Wow.
     
    #8 RandR, Jun 1, 2006
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  9. Marcia

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    AAG and RandR,
    I don't think your really read what I posted at all.

    Where did I say that the only meaning of missional is from the postmoderns? I didn't say that! But I have been encountering a lot of emerging church stuff and they do use this word quite a bit. That is all that I was pointing out and I thought it was important to point this out. So I stand by what I said. :type:

    (Actually, RandR, the first post was from a site about Newbigin's views).
     
  10. RandR

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    Marcia,

    I don't find anything in either of the quotes about not giving a verbal witness. Where did you get that?

    And did you mean Keller? I think the first quote you gave is from Keller. You can find all kinds of good stuff on his website at Redeemer Pres. in NYC.
     
  11. All about Grace

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    Just understand there is a huge theological diversity within the "emerging church" movement. Some of them have adopted the phrase "emergent" church to define themselves. Missional is a term that transcends the emerging & emergent church movements.
     
  12. Gold Dragon

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    Emergent and non-emergent applications of missional suggest that all Christians are missionaries wherever they are.

    Marcia's characterization of emergent/pomo approaches to being missional may be true in some cases, but are definitely not representative of emergent or postmodern Christianity.
     
  13. PastorSBC1303

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    So is being missional more about methodology or mindset, or ?
     
  14. All about Grace

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    I would say it is a mindset that impacts your methodology.
     
  15. shannonL

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    One thing "emergents" dispise is being defined in any conclusive, absolute fashion. Every doctrine is up for debate etc... They pride themselves on the fact that they can't be defined. Their movement is "ever flowing" , constantly "emerging".
    The fact that the definitional can be defined in such different terms across that particular movement is a clear indicator of just how pathetic the whole movement is.
    The word "missional" is simply a buzz word and that is it.
    Most of the emergent church is considering itself to be missional yet because they hold such a low view of doctrine the movement doesn't really have an objective mission.
    Some think this movement is so cool, so new and cutting edge and free flowiing free evolve. No my friends this is simply what you get when the Bible has lost its position as "final authority" within a movement. As if it ever had any authority.
    Brian McClaren is a wolf. He is a false prophet. I'm nobody. I promise you though if I ever had an opportunity to see him face to face I would tell him just that.
    The only reason Biblical preachers need to read emergent articles, books etc... is to be able to refute it's apostasy.
    To lend a sympathetic,interesting ear to the promoters of this movement is to lend one's self and his ministry to the compromising of the Gospel of Jesus Christ and the Bible.
    To sow any of this emergent leaven into your ministry will ultimately destroy what God wants to do.
    Some say we need to get together. Sure we do around the Word of God not around some quasi-new age, mystical movement led by apostates.
    Doctrine divides. As well it should. It will be one's doctrine that sends him or her to heaven or hell.
    Evangelism in the 50's thought it would be cool to dialogue with those who were different meaning liberals. Rather than defeating liberal theology evangelicals thought we could find common ground. Look where it has taken them.
    Full circle the emergent church is the fruit of evangelicalism's shmoozing with liberalism rather than trying to crush it.
    I just hope the emergent movement moves on out before it cripples the church. I highly doubt it though. To many preachers, people etc out there who are always looking for somthing new. Something to tickle their ears. The Bible and the Holy Spirit is not enough. We have to have "experiences"

    SBC put it this way: if your preaching the Gospel,edifying the saints, supporting missions at home and around the world then friend your church is missional. Placing evangelism ahead of doctrine is what is killing the western church. The Bible has all we need in it to teach us how to pastor and lead a thriving, doctrinally sound, evangelistic, church.
    Brian McClaren along with the apostate movement he helped to set in motion should be considered an enemy to the cause of Christ not a friend.
     
  16. RandR

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    I agree with All About Grace. Mindset primarily. It starts with believing that the church (all the people) is a sent community, and not just a "sending" community. For missionals, everyone is a missionary, not just those people who get paid to do overseas what every believer has been called to do wherever they are.

    But it's a little deeper than mindset in that it informs core values and everything from ecclesiology to doxology. Even eschatogy.

    Pastor,

    You've mentioned before that you're a doctroal student at SBTS. I assume you have access to ATLA online through the library. I'd recommend the following articles:

    Darrell L. Guder, "Missional Theology for a Missionary Church," Journal for Preachers 22, no.1 (1998)
    George R. Hunsberger, "Birthing Missional Faithfulness: Accents in a North American Movement," International Review of Mission 92 (Apr 2003).
    Georege Hunsberger, "Features of the Missional Church: Some Directions and Pathways." Reformed Review 52, no. 1 (Autumn 1998).
    Marva J. Dawn, "Worship to Form a Missional Community," Direction 28, no. 2 (Fall 1999).
    Darrell L. Guder, "From Mission and Theology to Missional Theology," Princeton Seminary Bulletin 24, no. 1 (2003).

    Also, your library probably also has the following bound volumes, too:

    Guder et al. Missional Church: A Vision for the Sending of the Church in North America.
    Hunsberger and Van Gelder et al. The Church Between Gospel and Culture: The Emerging Mission in North America
    Van Gelder et al. Confident Witness--Chaning World: Rediscovering the Gospel in North America
    Stetzer, Ed. Breaking the Missional Code: When Church can Become Missionary in Your Community.

    And then, you can also find links to some articles and resources from Tim Keller and Redeemer Presbyterian Church in NYC, here: http://www.stevekmccoy.com/reformissionary/2005/07/tim_keller_arti.html
     
    #16 RandR, Jun 2, 2006
    Last edited by a moderator: Jun 2, 2006
  17. RandR

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    Pastor,

    One other thing. Shannon doesn't really have any idea what he's talking about. Read the primary sources for yourself.

    Missional isn't a "buzz word", even if a whole bunch of people want it to be. I seriously doubt that "missional" will every catch on in the SBC (the real ideas...we seem to have no problem using hollow verbiage) because it would mean seriously rethinking--even trashing--our modern definitions of "success", it would mean embracing a view of the Kingdom that is larger than "the world's largest non-Catholic denomination", it would mean questioning the kind of eschatological systems upon which popular fiction are written, etc. etc. etc. By and large, we SBs aren't terribly good at honest introspection.

    The continued use of McLaren's books as the basis for trashing the entire "missional" or "emerging" (small E) discussion reveals one of two things: Ignorance. Or intellectual dishonesty. In some cases, its the former. In others, the latter. I dont' have any use for McLaren, and I doubt seriously you'll find anything he's written cited in ANY of the resources I listed above.

    I urge you to read some of them for yourself.
     
  18. shannonL

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    Rand,

    If the SBC is so bad why don't you leave it? I personally don't like the "Left Behind" series. It is like dime store fiction to me. I read about 10 pages of one of the books about 6 years ago and just laughed.
    Whats up you don't like pre-trib, pre-mill position of some SBC folk? I personally think there is plenty of room for reformed SB brethern in the convention way more than there is room for the "least common denominator, ecumenical , try anything to get a crowd easy believism type".
    I will be honest and say I haven't viewed all the books you mentioned concerning the missional approach nor do I know every single person involved in the "emergent movement". Yet I do know for certain that folk that use the movement's lingo but don't hold it's views need to clarify that they do not agree with the emergent big E movement's doctrinal positions otherwise some less informed seekers / believers are going to get swept up into a false, liberal teaching.
    Furthermore the word missional depending on what context its presented in can mean one thing to some in ministry and a whole different thing in another. I have read exstensively some of the blogs,articles of emergents. Missional to them in their context of the word leans way more towards a social gospel rather than the traditional idea of being missional.
    I must admit I myself am confused a little bit. I hear some SBC preachers, leaders or what have you throwing around that emergent word and I don't know if that means they are in agreement with some of the opinions of men like McClaren or if they are just relating to the people they are trying to reach that make up that particular demographic? Being that the Emergent Church Movement as clarified by McClaren and those who follow his lead is basically apostate I believe that clarification is in order as I stated earlier.Also why borrow or use terminology that can be confused with a movement that is casting such doubt on the Gospel if your not in agreement with what direction the movement is headed?
    Here is why some pastors, leaders are so pragmatic that they don't even see what they are headed into all they can see is "it gets results" On the flipside maybe they are just ignorant to use another man's words.

    BTW contexualization unrestrained IMHO leads to syncretism. Which in the American church culture can best be illustrated by the Emergent Church Movement. That is where that movement is headed if it has not already gotten there.
    BTW your ignorant if you haven't read articles from Emergent Church leaders as well as Church Growth people along with the dudes that put out the Leadership website, materials etc...
    Here they are:

    transformation,
    relevant
    missional
    emerging
    contemplative
    authentic worship
    authenticity
    creativity
    creative
    purpose

    I'm not saying these are bad or good just saying movements, genres, philosophies etc... all have their buzzwords, catchy phrases or what have you.

    Later
     
  19. PastorSBC1303

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    RandR, thank you for the recommended reading. I will check those out.
     
  20. RandR

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    Shannon,

    I don’t leave the SBC for the same reason I don’t leave lots of relationships wherein I am capable of seeing both the good and the bad. But thanks for proving my point about introspection.

    I really do not know where to begin to try to formulate a response to your last post. Your conviction is admirable, but I simply find your argumentation incoherent. I keep looking for warrants and other substantive statements to back sweeping claims and assertions, yet I search in vain. So I’ll try to respond to a few points as best I can.

    First, I think you COMPLETELY missed my point for bringing up eschatology. I wasn’t making a comment about the merits of dispensationalism per se, or the silly novels. Rather, I was attempting to explain to PastorSBC that one of the reasons that “missional” (rightly used, not how you seem to be using it) likely won’t ever catch on in the SBC because most in the SBC blindly accept dispensational eschatology. While missional isn’t overly concerned with eschatology, it is very much concerned with ecclesiology, and really isn’t compatible with any system that sees the church as little more than a parenthesis in redemption history. Given SBs attraction to dispensationalism (and modernism and triumphalism…therefore the rest of my paragraph above), one wouldn’t think they (we) will embracing “missional” en masse any time soon.

    Also, I made the distinction between “emergent” with a small “e” and “Emergent” with a big “E” because “Emergent” is an organization (And therefore a proper noun, hence the capital letter.) headed by Brian McLaren. He and his organization don’t represent the broad spectrum of voices involved in the missional conversation any more than you speak for all Baptists in the Midwest. Regrettably, because of what he named his organization, many people fail to notice the distinction (some notice it, but simply refuse to acknowledge for the sake of polemics). There ARE people creeping—even sprinting—towards relativism in the emerging movement, especially those closely aligned with Emergent, the organization. But they do not represent the whole.

    As to why people would want to be associated with language that can confuse them with heterodoxy, I think that is why you will find most conservatives preferring the word “missional” or going to great lengths to clarify “emerging” (small e) versus McLaren’s organization. But, still, I must ask…why must the onus be on them? Why should not those making the critique be the ones to do the homework to learn the differences in terminology?

    As far as your concerns about pastors adopting whatever “gets results”, I don’t know what to say except that you’ve grossly misjudged the missional conversation if you think it’s about “results”. Perhaps you’re equaing “missional” with seeker-sensitive, purpose-driven, etc. That’s a mistake. Theoretically, a church could be extremely traditional in its worship style and programming and be “more” missional than a seeker church if the congregation in the traditional church understands themselves to be a sent community, called by God, sent by Christ, and led by the Spirit as a foretaste of the Kingdom to witness to the gospel and “seek and save that which is lost” as an extension of Christ’s incarnational mission on earth. It has little to do with worship styles or program structures and everything to do with philosophy of ministry, ecclesiology, and missiology.

    Friend, I share your concerns about pragmatism. The sad fact is that if you want to see some of the most egregious examples of pragmatism run amuck, then you need to look no farther than some of our “flagship” churches, none of which claim to be “missional” and all of which claim to believe in inerrancy and espouse conservative theology.

    Contextualization unrestrained could very well lead to syncretism. I suppose one could also argue that Arminianism unrestrained leads to Openness of God theology and that Calvinism unrestrained leads to Fatalism. Thankfully, we have the bounds of Scripture and the leading of the Holy Spirit to RESTRAIN. I don’t know where you have read anybody advocating for unrestrained contextualization. Certainly not in any of the primary sources.

    I’m sorry, but I don’t really understand what you’re trying to say with, “BTW, your (sic) ignorant if you haven't read articles from Emergent Church leaders as well as Church Growth people along with the dudes that put out the Leadership website, materials etc...” No offense, but I believe it is probably apparent to anybody reading this thread who has and who hasn’t read the preponderance of pertinent materials on this particular subject.
     

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