Missional Challenge

What is Missional and How Can We Live Missionally?
Elizabeth Chapin MLDR510 08 • Missional Ecclesiology • Professor Jason Clark George Fox Evangelical Seminary • Portland, OR • December 12, 2008

Elizabeth Chapin •Missional Ecclesiology • George Fox Evangelical Seminary


Missional Challenge
What is Missional and How Can We Live Missionally? FINAL PROJECT

Missional Motif He was larger than the average man, intriguingly handsome, inspiring awe and fear in his students year after year. You either adored or deplored Mr. Carr, but one thing was for sure, his passion for teaching English made many of his classes the most popular classes in High School. I adored Mr. Carr and was definitely considered a “teacher’s pet” in his classes. I took classes on Wagner, Tragic Vision and Comic Vision. We took many field trips to NY City including a few visits to the Metropolitan Opera House. I still enjoy Wagner opera music today and recognize most pieces that are used in movies with the accompanying emotions they evoke from my first exposure to them in High School. Mr. Carr made sure we left his classes understanding “motif” through experiential learning as we laughed and lamented, raged and rallied with the characters of the stories we studied. We felt the mood as we heard the repeated small elements characteristic of a musical composition, weaving a certain unity through the music of the operas. We noticed recurring structures, contrasts, and literary devices that developed and informed the text’s major themes. We learned to recognize motifs all around us. Perhaps this is why it is not difficult for me to recognize a missional motif in my own life, as well as in the Bible and the Church1 throughout history and around the world.


I use the term “Church” with a capital “C” to refer to the universal body of Christ

throughout history and in all the world. Elizabeth Chapin •Missional Ecclesiology • George Fox Evangelical Seminary 2

I was greatly influenced by Campus Crusade for Christ as a young Christian, and committed my life to participating in God’s mission for the world when I was 18. I went through missionary training, yet never made it to a foreign mission field. In all the training, I sensed God’s call to mission regardless of my location finding the principles of mission apply to home contexts as much as any foreign context, with some adaptation. After being on mission in America for over 25 years, I have been surprised by the lack of understanding of the need for being on mission with God here and now, as well as the rapid departure of so many growing up in Christian homes who are not only leaving the church but leaving the faith. The missional motif has somehow been obscured in Western Christianity to the point that it has created a dissonance with the story of God and discordance with the historic missional movement of God through the Church. As America continues to become an increasingly post-Christian nation, the challenge to revive this missional motif that is evident in Scripture as well as Church history is ever looming before us. Some refer to this missional motif as Missio Dei. “Missio Dei is a Latin theological term that can be translated as the ‘sending of God.’ Mission is understood as being derived from the very nature of God. The missionary initiative comes from God alone. Missio Dei as a term and concept became increasingly popular in the church from the second half of the 20th century and is a key concept in missiology being used by theologians such as David Bosch, Andrew Jones, Michael Frost and William Storrar.”2 But what is the mission? While volumes of books have been written on the subject, and departments in seminaries devoted to the study of missiology, I will draw upon the work of the U.S. Center for World Mission and their Perspectives™ on The World Christian Movement Course. Here are the core ideas presented in the course: 1. God initiates and advances work in history to accomplish His purpose. 2. God calls His people to join Him in fulfilling His purpose.


“Missio dei,” Wikipedia, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Missio_dei (accessed December

11, 2008). Elizabeth Chapin •Missional Ecclesiology • George Fox Evangelical Seminary 3

3. God's purpose is to bless all peoples so that Christ will be served and glorified among all peoples. 4. God accomplishes His purpose by triumphing over evil in order to rescue and bless people and to establish His kingdom rule throughout the earth. 5. The Bible is a unified story of God's purpose. 6. God's work in history has continuity and will come to an ultimate culmination. 7. The Christian movement has brought about positive social transformation. 8. The mission task can and will be completed. 9. The world's population can be viewed in terms of people groups. 10. The progress of world evangelization can be assessed in terms of church-planting movements within people groups. 11. Completing the mission task requires the initiation and growth of church-planting movements that follow social avenues of influence. 12. Completing the task requires effective cross-cultural evangelism that follows communication patterns within cultures. 13. Completing the task requires strategic holism in which community development is integrated with church planting. 14. Completing the task requires collaborative efforts of churches and mission agencies from diverse cultures and traditions. 15. God calls His people to embrace strategic sacrifice and suffering with Christ in order to accomplish His global purpose. 16. By participating in the world Christian movement, every believer can find a way to live with vital, strategic significance in God's global purpose.3 What happened in Western Christianity that caused this dissonance and discordance with the missional heart of God? If missio Dei is a unifying theme of


“Core Ideas of Perspectives,” Perspectives on the World Christian Movement,

http://www.perspectives.org/site/c.eqLLI0OFKrF/b.3448385/k.7491/Core_Ideas_of_Perspe ctives.htm (accessed December 12, 2008). Elizabeth Chapin •Missional Ecclesiology • George Fox Evangelical Seminary 4

all that glitters is not gold. (1 Samuel 16:7) More recently. 2008). The sources of opposition and their nature are beyond the scope of this work. we have become beholden to the mega-church model in America looking to churches like Willow Creek and Saddleback to show us the way 4 Jon Stewart. While Christendom is losing it’s influence on society and largely crumbling before our eyes as the great cathedrals in Europe attract more people for tours than those who come to worship. http://www. we saw even in the midst of the monumental crisis in 2008 that consumerism is king as 2008’s “Black Friday showed a three percent increase in retail sales and a death toll of three. consumerism is alive and well and growing in influence across the globe to the point that an economic crisis in the West has far reaching ramifications around the world. how have so many Western Christians missed it? If the Church was created to participate in the missio Dei.” The Daily Show. the sinful nature (Romans 8). and spiritual forces of wickedness (Ephesians 6:12). “December 1. for man looks at the outward appearance but God looks at the heart.”4 Before I continue. but generally this opposition comes from the world systems (1 John 2:15-17). how could we distort church to be more like a vendor of religious goods and services or producer of weekly religious entertainment? There are many factors that have militated against the missional motif in the Western World and among the greatest of these are Christendom and consumerism.thedailyshow. I must confess I am persuaded that God’s mission on earth does not go on unopposed.com/video/index. but what appears to us as a good thing may not look so good to God. Elizabeth Chapin •Missional Ecclesiology • George Fox Evangelical Seminary 5 . But will economic crises loosen the grip of consumerism on society? While some may question their consumer lifestyle during times of crises.jhtml?videoId=210919&title=black-fridaydeaths (accessed December 1.Scripture. For centuries we have heralded the conversion of Constantine and the triumphant establishment of Christendom as ordained by God and part of his missional plan. 2008: Black Friday Deaths. And we must not forget the old adage. As we consider this missional motif we must remember the militating factors are complex and often mystifying.

hay and straw instead of gold. But are we building with wood. precious stones? (1 Corinthians 3:2-13) Christendom – Blessed Crescendo or Beleaguered Cacophony? When looking at the influence of Christendom. inoculating entire cultures against epidemic infection by the life changing gospel of Christ. I think this metaphor is useful as we critically evaluate shifts into Post-Christendom. We saw the birth of Christendom as Constantine converted and proclaimed Christianity as the official religion of the Roman Empire.. wealth and status on the Christian story”6 is worth celebrating. While I prefer not to think of the gospel in the negative terms of disease. 21.to engage in God’s mission in the midst of our predominant consumer culture..”7 Was this a good thing? Constantine’s adoption of Christi5 6 7 Stuart Murray. 9. 25. Ibid. Post-Christendom. Ibid. But rather than seeing Christendom as “little more than a veneer” I propose it has acted more like a vaccination. resulting in an immune response to ward off the devastating effects of that disease. (Milton Keynes: Paternoster Press. I join Murray in saying “the end of Christendom and the distorting influence of power.”5 Murray presses this issue in his book. the nominal Christianity that characterized much of Christendom served to prevent the full reception of the gospel into the hearts and lives of those exposed so that those who were fully infected were unable to pass the gospel on to those around them because they had become immune to it’s influence. Like a vaccination that infects a person with a minute dose of an actual disease. “persistent voices throughout previous centuries queried whether Christendom was as Christian as was generally believed and suggested its Christianity was little more than a veneer. it did not occur overnight as “Constantine introduced measures designed gradually to replace paganism with Christianity as the imperial religion. 2004). 6 Elizabeth Chapin •Missional Ecclesiology • George Fox Evangelical Seminary . Post-Christendom and hails the end of Christendom. silver. While this shift was significant and radical.

Ibid.. 8 9 Ibid.”9 Within Christendom. becoming a Christian was no longer optional. The Christendom shift took place largely unopposed. “Few expressed concern about the missionary methods used or the increasingly nominal Christianity within the churches. Not all were as uncritically effusive about Constantine as Eusibius. “Very few church leaders objected to Constantine’s championing of the church and the favours he bestowed on it. though not fully formed into what we know of as Christendom today. 38. 7 10 11 Elizabeth Chapin •Missional Ecclesiology • George Fox Evangelical Seminary .. “It was assumed landowners would require workers on their estates to become Christians and that heads of households would insist the household share a common faith..”10 The coming of Christendom was largely achieved by the end of the fourth century.”11 Was Constantine’s adoption of Christianity God’s intention for the church? Or was it permitted. but almost all assumed this was God’s doing and represented the triumph of the gospel over the Empire after centuries of marginality. Ibid. Christendom defined the church.. Ibid. Distinctions between church and nation were blurred. Christendom endured but is now coming to an end.”8 After the adoption of Christianity as the imperial religion. it was expected and at times required. 40. struggle and opposition. like Israel begging for a King and having their desire permitted by God? (1 Samuel 8) Regardless of our conclusion on this matter. 43. If adjustments were necessary. [Theodosius I] defined the church as those ‘in communion with the bishops of Rome and Alexandria’: unity within church and Empire was secured by legislation penalizing Christian groups unwilling to accept this definition.anity as the imperial religion was viewed by many as God’s will. “In an edict of 380. these were a small price to pay for the opportunities that the church now had. 44. Understanding this shift to Christendom and it’s effect on our shared history will help guide us into the future.

62. 71.. we cannot escape their influence on Christendom.”14 I wonder. a culture. 8 Elizabeth Chapin •Missional Ecclesiology • George Fox Evangelical Seminary . 63.One of my greatest concerns with the expansion of Christendom including the coercive methods of conversion used during the crusades is the possibility that many became culturally Christians but were devoid of the life of Christ within them. Ibid. I wonder. When being a Christian is something you do or you die. how authentic is the embracing of it? As Murray states. Believing and behaving were not always connected: some who struggled hardest to preserve what they regarded as orthodox doctrine were very unattractive personalities. directed towards both the re-conquest for Christendom of the Holy Land and the full evangelisation of Europe. (Mark 8:34) Rather than a do or die proposition or a matter of birthright. Nor did strength of belonging safeguard behaviour: often the spiritual and moral qualities of church leaders fell well short of their parishioners... or something you are born into it no longer requires the committed choice Jesus heralds as he calls people to take up their cross and follow him. “The fundamental question arising from this story is whether. if Christianity is forced upon a person. or a nation. a family.”13 Murray concludes that “what we know about Christian leaders between the fourth and fourteenth centuries suggests a colourful mixture of devout saints and thoroughly obnoxious characters led Christendom. Christendom was Christian. And methods used to strengthen the church’s grip on society and extend Christendom leave much to be desired. (John 3) While many today wonder at the logic and efficacy of the crusades.”12 But. Christianity is a do AND die – die to self – proposition and a “you must be born again” experience. and in what sense. Ibid. is it possible that through Christendom Christianity gained the world but lost it’s soul? (Mark 8:36) Was the rise of Christendom a blessed crescendo of God’s missional motif or merely a beleaguered cacophony that has led to increased dissonance with the Missio dei over time? 12 13 14 Ibid. the ideology of crusade became popular. “During the twelfth century.

Ibid.. During this shift to Christendom theologies were developed to justify this shift. Some were unintended and have often been ignored…”16 Was Constantine’s adoption of Christianity as the state religion God’s intention for the church? Or was it permitted. state or Empire”15 and though Christendom spread throughout Europe in the first millennium after Christ. but the government of the United States and the establishment of the church in America are in part the result of rebellion against Christendom. there were also costs. 107. we cannot fully judge such things. Was this marriage of empire and faith what God intended as many at that time assumed? Unfortunately. “The first amendment [to the Constitution] states that government will not create a national religion however government officials have the right to practice any religious ideas 15 16 17 Ibid. Ibid. but rather allowed as “most acknowledge there was a price to pay for the Christendom shift. (Matthew 5:6) While we have seen the rapid decline of Christendom influence in Europe. Europe is now entering a period of Post-Christendom. 83.. 9 Elizabeth Chapin •Missional Ecclesiology • George Fox Evangelical Seminary . Christians in Western culture will be able to tell the Christian story to people for whom it is entirely unknown – a challenging scenario but full of opportunities we have not had for generations. 2. I am thankful that with the end of Christendom “for the first time in many centuries. If there were gains. I hope that in this generation many will taste and see that the Lord is good (Psalm 34:8) and be blessed as they hunger and thirst for righteousness. but there were also those who raised objections.”17 Without the artificial immunity built up through centuries of minimal exposure to the life-changing message of the gospel. but the Christendom shift was quite possibly not the intention of God for his church. like Israel begging for a King and having their desire permitted by God? (1 Samuel 8) While we may never know the answer to that question..One of the marks of the rise of Christendom was “the adoption of Christianity as the official religion of city. Christendom has had an incredible impact on America.

We do not have centuries old Cathedrals that welcome more tourists than worshipers.that they want. other faith center. not by choice as informed adolescents or adults. or even a medical center. but we do have many a church building that has been transformed into a community center.wikipedia. but in a democratic system where the government is by the people and for the people. Unfortunately.” Wikipedia. The Fall of the Evangelical Nation: The Surprising Crisis Inside the Murray. but rather agreed upon by the majority of people within the nation. to as much as running for office and representing a constituency. Harper One. 19. We have people who believe that being a Christian means adhering to a code of morals and a particular political point of view. and for decades this may have been somewhat true. 10 Church. many negative practices.org/wiki/Separation_of_church_and_state (accessed September 20. http://en. Post-Christendom.”20 But this influence of Christian values on the government and institutions in America was not forced upon the nation. These and other practices and 18 “Separation of Church and State. the degree of Christian influence upon the governing of the nation and the establishment of social institutions is directly dependent on the number of individuals who are Christians and participate in the government of the nation. Over the last two hundred years we have seen a decline in the number of Christians in America19. 19 See Wicker. Some may choose to associate America with Christendom in the sense that American society has been “shaped by the Christian Story and [many of it’s] institutions … have been developed to express Christian convictions. Christine. 20 Elizabeth Chapin •Missional Ecclesiology • George Fox Evangelical Seminary . values and beliefs of Christendom have influenced American Christianity and we are reaping the consequences. and so have seen the waning influence of Christian values in government and society. We have generations of people who grew up in the church because they were baptized in as babies. 2007). 2008.”18 Some have called America a Christian Nation. This participation can be as little as showing up to vote.

”22 “I’m fine with God. 2003 22 tions. Authentic Media. If Christendom cathedrals were shaped by Roman government metaphors. Dan. But what were we exporting to foreign countries? Were we expecting foreigners to embrace our culture in order to embrace Christ? Hudson Taylor. we have seen a different distorting influence arise in the West. for they have seen the negative impact of Christendom and believe they will be far more effective in reaching the world for Christ as an underground movement completely dependent on the power of Christ to work in and through them. especially in America. Today. Paul. one of my early heroes of the faith resisted “Westernizing” Chinese Christians and was a pioneer in what can be called incarnational mission. but not the church. “I like Jesus. sending missionaries to regions of the world that had not yet fallen under the influence of Christendom.beliefs have resulted in the death of many Churches who are based on a cultural Christianity instead of built upon the solid rock of life giving faith in Jesus Christ. This distortion has created a discordance with the missional heart of God that causes many outside the church to say things like. it’s Christians I can’t 21 See Hattaway. They Like Jesus but Not The Church: Insights from Emerging Genera- Their Vision to Complete the Great Commission. For centuries we have held up Western versions of Christianity as the standard and Western churches were the sending churches. Perhaps as a direct result of Hudson Taylor and other’s work. the church in China has grown tremendously since the expulsion of Western missionaries from China.21 Consumerism – The Curse of Capitalism? While Christendom was built upon the marriage of empire and faith. Grand Rapids: Zondervan. Christians living in China ask us in the West not to pray for their government to make Christianity the official religion of China. the mega-church in America has been shaped by consumerism and church as business metaphors. 2007 Elizabeth Chapin •Missional Ecclesiology • George Fox Evangelical Seminary 11 . Back to Jerusalem: Three Chinese House Church Leaders Share See Kimball.

with spiritual formation practices of a consumer religion. In many places where Christianity has declined it was in direct response to the increase of an alternative faith system like Islam. Gregory. ting Past the Religious Garbage in the Search for Spiritual Truth. 2008). 25 Political Power Is Destroying the Church. 26 http://jasonclark. As the influence of the Christian story began to wane. Stan.. but others argue that the quest for political power is killing the church25 and like Christendom. Gabe. But as we see both the influence of the Christian story waning along with Christendom modes of trying to maintain influence over society proving ineffective.”26 How has consumerism shaped and influenced expressions of church in the West? Has the church in America replaced pursuing God’s mission with pursuing the American Dream? If we look to the suburbs. militates against the missional heart of God. Bruce and Jantz. we wouldn’t have to look far to find the possibility the American Dream has militated against God’s Kingdom and purposes for the Church..stand”23 and label our behavior and attitudes as very “unChristian. 23 See Bickel. David and Lyons. 24 Thinks about Christianity. Elizabeth Chapin •Missional Ecclesiology • George Fox Evangelical Seminary 12 . some responded in Christendom modes seeking to restore Christian values through legislation. “Consumerism as Religion. we are faced with other challenges to the church participating in God’s mission for the world. that in itself is capable of consuming and using the best missional efforts of the church. I’m Fine with God. 2007. Zondervan.” 24 For decades America may have been characterized by Christian ethics and Christian values leading many to call America a Christian Nation. Some would argue the alternative faith system challenging Christianity in the West is consumerism as people continue to be “deeply religious. 2008. The Myth of a Christian Nation: How the Quest for Jason Clark. and Why It Matters. unChristian: What a New Generation Really See Boyd.ws/2006/09/07/consumerism-as-religion/#more-1160 (accessed December 12. 2007. It’s Christians I Can’t Stand: GetSee Kinnaman. Baker Books. Harvest House.” Jason Clark's Blog.

slaves to fashion. (IVP Ibid. What is Missional? While there are many forces militating against the missional heart of God. and incarnational . Hsu. there are also those who are seeking to inspire the church in the West to restore a missional focus.” In the ensuing hours we touched on the concept of Missio Dei.We see the challenges of consumer culture as we see signs of “consumption’s sway over suburban Christians.an MRI church. But what exactly is “missional”? Is it merely the adjectival form of mission or is it something more? I took a class from Leonard Sweet called. and slaves to fleshly desires and passions. Isaac and Jacob but the god of this world who holds them captive to a life of individualism. The Suburban Christian – Finding Spiritual Vitality in the Land of Plenty. 28 29 Elizabeth Chapin •Missional Ecclesiology • George Fox Evangelical Seminary . instead of entering into the Christian story.. 74.. 2006). we are at risk of being consumed and I am concerned that many in suburbia and much of the Western world have chosen their God and it is not the God of Abraham. As we continue to overconsume.”27 Have we been overcome by the power of branding and invitation into an alternative story so that “instead of yearning for God or heaven. 13 Books. But this culture of consumerism has become so powerful that it acts as an alternative religion calling for our personal devotion and sacrifice at the altar of greed. 107. Sweet refuted the title of the class saying it should be. This term “mis- 27 Albert Y. these systems are not inherently evil.” In the first few minutes of our class time. “The Global Mission of God. 94. we lay claim to the stories of corporate advertisers”?28 Have we sought to find our vitality and purpose in pursing the American Dream as our “consumer culture has claimed material goods to be the ultimate goods”?29 Consumption and capitalism in and of themselves are not the problem. Many in our culture have become slaves to debt. and learned that Sweet’s vision for the church includes the church being missional. Ibid. “Global Mission of the Church. consumerism and materialism. relational.

In March of 2007.sional” has been growing in popularity over the last few years in the church in the West. The question raised was something like this. Scot McKnight.: Hendrickson Publishers.. 31 http://www. "Some people use the term incarnational and some missional . why? Because. One question that was raised particularly intrigued me. At one time it was all about discipleship. then it was all about mentoring. especially in relation to emerging church. what IS the difference between missional and incarnational? As a professional communicator and technical writer these things have mattered much more to me in the past. 30 Michael Frost & Alan Hirsch. and even though they matter less to me today .com/article/dn6303-language-may-shape-human-thought. If “missional” is the shape of the future30 then we would do well to understand the origins and implications of this term. I attended a conference called "Inside the Missional Matrix" put on by Off the Map.html (accessed November 5. Todd Hunter.passing on what they have learned to another person. now it’s all about spiritual formation .what's the difference and are these terms interchangeable?" I am especially intrigued by questions like these because it reminds me of how much time we spend on language.newscientist. and Rose Swetman did an excellent job engaging those in attendance. Mass. Why do we get so caught up in what things are called? Why do we care so much about terminology? After all.”31 If this is the case.. 2008). Some people are so committed to "The Word" that if a word isn't in "The Word" (for instance "mentoring") then it is not acceptable. Some believe “the controversial hypothesis that the language available to humans defines our thoughts. “Language may shape human thought.” NewScientist. the 21st-Century Church (Peabody.but the reality is that those who are effective at any of these are probably doing about the same thing . The Shaping of Things to Come: Innovation and Mission For Celeste Biever.they still matter. 2003). but if we take Proverbs 23:7 out of context. then how we define “missional” will not only affect how we think. in the beginning God spoke. Elizabeth Chapin •Missional Ecclesiology • George Fox Evangelical Seminary 14 . we can argue that how we think affects who we are.

hypocrisy is as much of a problem in communities of faith today as it was when Jesus walked the earth. The tagline for Dan Kimball’s Graceland gathering was. It only makes sense that we too must use language to communicate with one another.God spoke. But one of the inherent problems with language is that it is not absolute. as he launched one of the first alternative church gatherings of the emerging church movement. the meta-messages. the nonverbal. “A Worshiping Community of Missional Theologians. etc. One of the greatest dissonances we experience is when we say one thing and do another. But what we are really saying is that language and communication are complex. How then can we make sense of "The Word" when all these variations are possible? How can we know what "The Word" is really saying when we can't even agree on whether we need to be missional or incarnational? I would like to propose that words are very important. Dan Kimball. sometimes more important than we even give them credit. What we do is who we really are.the verbal. Jesus calls this hypocrisy. upbringing. when I hear people talking about a missional community or incarnational living . Or when someone else says one thing and does another. and is interpreted differently based upon your worldview. the cultural. What we speak impacts us in many realms. Unfortunately. from time to time. We speak of the different levels of communication in language . and societal bias. it varies from culture to culture.” I have known Dan for over 20 years and when Dan uses the term missional. Missional Firsts My first encounter with the term missional was through. What we hear affects what we believe. The proverbs say that life and death are in the power of the tongue and I don't think it is referring to getting licked to death. I am confident that he Elizabeth Chapin •Missional Ecclesiology • George Fox Evangelical Seminary 15 . So. God chooses to use language to create and to communicate with His creation.my first thought is that I hope that person does it more than they talk about it. what we believe affects what we say and do.

We each were created for a missional purpose. Rick Meigs produces the Friend of Missional website and offers an etymology of the word: Etymology of Missional Definition: "Relating to or connected with a religious mission. thinking. I was offered about 1. and I would have to agree. with the goal of expressing and sharing the love of Jesus. this command is not exclusive to overseas missions alone (which we support wholeheartedly since global missions is extremely important) but is foremost to be lived out in our own communities. and day to day lives (Colossians 4:5-6). The church was not created for itself. he has been one of the leading voices in the emerging church movement and continues to offer a credible example of a missional church.000 results which is a great deal more than the 3. but was created to worship God and to spread His love to others. Jesus clearly told the church to "go and make disciples" (Matthew 28:18-20). Therefore. and practices of a missionary in order to engage others with the gospel message. He taught His followers to be engaged in the world with people (John 17:15). Friend of Missional is also at the top of the google search. Some are saying “missional” is the buzz word of the church today.is living it as much as he is talking about it. one of my favorite online sources. missionary. Here’s what wikipedia has to say: "Missional living" is a Christian term that describes a missionary lifestyle. adopting the posture.350 results from 2001. Graceland has since become Vintage Faith Church who holds missional as one of their distinctives and defines missional as: Being "missional" simply means being outward and others-focused." Elizabeth Chapin •Missional Ecclesiology • George Fox Evangelical Seminary 16 . Top on the google search list is wikipedia. sometimes showing up above wikipedia. with the understanding that all Christians should be involved in the Great Commission of Jesus Christ. we won't have a specific "missions department" because the whole church itself is a mission. behaviors. When entering “missional” as my search term in google. families. For us today. Rather. Jesus told His followers not to remove themselves from the world and create an isolated Christian subculture.470. As a result of Dan’s faithful witness. depending on the day. The use of this term has gained recent popularity due to the Emerging church movement to contrast the concept of a select group of "professional" missionaries.

but many churches today have inadvertently changed the "go and be" command to a "come and see" appeal. G. http://www. and What a Missional Church Looks Like. 33 Rick invites others to be a catalyst for missional and offers a “Friend of Missional” graphic for others to use on their blog linking to his site. he has 157 sites using the graphic and linking to his site. 32 Rick Meigs. Guder) and the works of Lesslie Newbigin. "missionary work or activity. An adjective usually precedes the noun or the pronoun which it modifies. Description of A Missional Church. 32 Rick also gives a short answer to the question “What is Missional?”: Jesus told us to go into all the world and be his ambassadors. Etymology: From the word missionalism which is a noun meaning. 1983). It speaks of the very nature of the Jesus follower. 2008). A life where "the way of Jesus" informs and radically transforms our existence to one wholly focused on sacrificially living for him and others and where we adopt a missionary stance in relation to our culture.friendofmissional. Rick offers the following lists: Missional is a Shift in Thinking. whose missional activities brought over whole districts and even nationalities to their creed" (emphasis added). HOLMES' Age Justinian & Theodora II." First Usage: 1907 in W. 17 6. 33 Elizabeth Chapin •Missional Ecclesiology • George Fox Evangelical Seminary . An adjective modifies a noun or a pronoun by describing. "God Who Sends" (Broadman Press. Missional is a helpful term used to describe what happens when you and I replace the "come to us" invitations with a "go to them" life. We have grown attached to buildings.org/ (accessed November Ibid. As of August. (Reference: Oxford English Dictionary) It should be noted that Andrew Jones has found it used as early as 1883. Page 687. identifying. or quantifying words. By the 1990's the term began to appear more and more in such books as "Missional Church: A Vision for the Sending of the Church in North America" (Edited by Darrell L.Part of Speech: Adjective. Modern Usage: The first missiologist using the term "missional" in its modern understanding was Francis DuBose in his book. Quote: "Several prelates. Friend of Missional. staff and a wide variety of goods and services designed to attract and entertain people. What a Missional Church is Not. programs.

35 as Rick notes. training. supplemental teaching. Breaking the Missional Code (Broadman & Holman. encouragement. “a missional church is not a dispenser of religious goods and services or a place where people come for their weekly spiritual fix. “Consumerism & Church.” Missional Ecclesiology Face to Face Session 6.In the section. Rick notes. Jason Clark. 36 Elizabeth Chapin •Missional Ecclesiology • George Fox Evangelical Seminary . Friend of Missional. 34 35 Ibid.”36 Rick offers great descriptions of missional church including the idea of a gathered church “for the purpose of worship. Meigs. while I concur I would also propose this shift is especially difficult in our consumer culture where Christianity is a private lifestyle choice and the church becomes therapy to find our consumer self. Missional is a Shift in Thinking. 18 October 2008. 2006) like this: • • • • • • • • • • From programs to processes From demographics to discernment From models to missions From attractional to incarnational From uniformity to diversity From professional to passionate From seating to sending From decisions to disciples From additional to exponential From monuments to movements And Rick adds a couple more to Ed's list: • • • From services to service From ordained to the ordinary From organizations to organisms34 Rick notes that making this shift in thinking can be especially difficult for Evangelical Christians. this shift in thinking is expressed by Ed Stetzer and David Putman in their book.

50 bloggers joined together to address this topic. JR Woodward. 2008). who posted “A Primer on Today’s Missional Church” on his blog offers this definition from an older post of his: THE MISSIONAL CHURCH IS… the people of God living with the conviction that we are a sent people (by our Triune God) . theology. 38 I like Woodward’s ideas on being sent people as well as bilingual theologians. embodied gospel.”39 Kathy understands my concern over hypocrisy.net/2008/11/a-primer-on-todays-missional-church/ (accessed November 6. There is much that could be unpacked in this definition as Woodward artfully combines the concepts of trinity. Elizabeth Chapin •Missional Ecclesiology • George Fox Evangelical Seminary 19 .and to seek God's presence and to be realigned with God's missionary purpose. kingdom.com/2008/06/22/upside-downinside-out/ (accessed October 21. and renewal in his definition. http://jrwoodward.” JR Woodward: Dream Awak- ener. 39 Kathy Escobar.” the carnival in my head. Here’s some highlights: Anti-Missional and Missional Confusions Kathy Escobar writes. which is one worth pondering. 2008). We are a people who engage in the task of bilingual theological reflection (recognizing the grammar of the dominant culture as well as the grammar of God) so that we can embody the good news in the context in which we find ourselves and join God in the renewal of all things. inside out and against everything business school teaches. “i honestly do not use the word for one primary reason–the people i know who are really truly “missional” don’t talk about it too much & the people who are trying to catch the latest church-trend use it a lot. foretaste and herald of the kingdom of God. “A Primer on Today's Missional Church.called to be a faithful sign. http://kathyescobar. JR Woodward also offers a link to a Missional Synchroblog that happened in June 2008 where Rick Meigs at The Blind Beggar organized bloggers to address the concern that the term missional has become overused or wrongly used. On June 23rd. “upside down.”37 JR Woodward. and is a good example 37 38 Ibid.

the ability to mourn & feel. missional–individually & corporately–is: o a way of living. you name it. simple. many who would not feel comfortable or accepted in traditional churches and would definitely not fit into the corporate leadership structure many mainline churches adhere to. 20 Elizabeth Chapin •Missional Ecclesiology • George Fox Evangelical Seminary . Kathy is passionate about what missional is not. messy. the upside down inside out and beautifully uncomfortable ways of the kingdom that are completely counter-intuitive to the worldly principles of business school that have infiltrated our church culture. saying: missional is much more than some cool service projects and short term mission trips here and there while everything else structurally. 41 40 41 Ibid. bringing people “to us”. make us feel uncomfortable. She goes on to say: to me. and is something that is better left unsaid in words and promotional materials and said loudly in humble. it is a way of the heart. programmatically. or verbalized in any creeds but is exemplified in the lives of the people involved with The Refuge. But they have found a safe place to be the people God has created them to be and are making a difference in their community offering hope and help to marginalized people who are being neglected by most local churches. and in many ways utterly unmeasurable. and not having to really engage in sacrificial life-on-life in real. Ibid. embracing not only in action but in the core DNA of our hearts the values of the beatitudes in matthew 5 (spiritual poverty. and sacrifice at great costs)40 o o o I visited Kathy’s faith community when I was in the Denver area last month and discovered the missional beauty of her community is not found on her website. natural actions that actually don’t get any press. is exactly the same that it’s always been–focused on serving the people in the pews (or in the newest and most comfortable chairs) and making sure they are happy. authentic ways that get under our skin. mercy & compassion. humility & gentleness.of resisting such hypocrisy as she intentionally lives missionally instead of spending too much time talking about it. and change our hearts forever. situational. chaotic. advocacy & social justice.

theoreticians. Its blurred meaning has brought it to the point that even some of its earliest and ardent users of the term are becoming reticent to use it themselves for fear of their audience misconstruing their message. one conclusion I have come to is that in order to understand missional we not only need to understand how this new adjective is being used today. and dissecting it. “Friday is for Friends and One (Self-Centered) Former Friend Named Al. If I were to do a PhD on the subject.com. missions.lifeway. I’m sure I would read more of his work. I am allergic to cheese .” Ed- Stetzer.html (accessed November 7. AL” and is a play on the popularity of the word missionAL.org/wiki/Talk:Missional_living Ed Stetzer. “Ed Stetzer vs.43 (That reading seemed like 100 pages on it’s own . The video is entitled. http://blogs. Ed thinks it points out just how confused the missional conversation has become.lifeway. 2008). Seems like everyone wants to be missional but when they say "missional" they really mean "edgy. But for now.-) it does attempt to dialog about the mission aspect of missional with humor and points out the reality of the confusion surrounding the term which is illustrated much less humorously in a long “talk” session on wikipedia where contributors discuss the evolution of the wikipedia entry.-) Ed notes the extent of this confusion over the term saying: Practitioners. fans and foes are defining.com. Ed Stetzer wrote." or "contemporary. I’d like to look some more at the common usage and application of the word today."42 While I found the video a bit cheesy for my taste (and by the way. 42 Ed Stetzer. “Breaking the Missional Code” in 2006.html (accessed November 7.” EdStetzer.I viewed an interesting video produced by LifeWay with Ed Stetzer. Ed is an expert missiologist and has done great work in researching the history and theology of mission. 44 After reviewing Ed’s articles on The Meanings of Missional.wikipedia.com/blog/edstetzer/the-meanings-of-missional. but we need to understand the concepts of mission upon which missional is founded. defending. missio dei and what it means to be missional. Elizabeth Chapin •Missional Ecclesiology • George Fox Evangelical Seminary 21 . 43 44 http://en. 2008).com/blog/edstetzer/2008/11/friday-is-for-friends-andal. http://blogs." "innovative. “The Meanings of Missional.

to be missional requires the adoption of two central tenets.acts29network. and missional has been robbed of its theological impact.45 They define missional as an adjective describing all of the activities of the church body as they are brought under the mis- 45 Scott Thomas. As it stands. I confided to some that there was at that time (and is now) a “battle” going on for the word “missional. third Missional. Brother Maynard agrees with others that missional is not just the latest cool term that can be slapped onto existing programs. Brother Maynard (a pseudonym) is an avid blogger concerning this terminology as well as a consistent contributor to missional conversations. not only corporately but individually as well. second Evangelicals. the word is in danger of being lost. I also found a definition of missional on the Acts 29 website. has concerns about the term as well.Another blogger. http://www. Some would want to co-opt the term and apply it to existing attractional evangelistic programs. The church’s ministry is to be incarnational. but requires a shift in thinking recovering what has been lost in many churches over time. 2. saying: In October 2007 at Seabeck. 2008). Elizabeth Chapin •Missional Ecclesiology • George Fox Evangelical Seminary 22 . and fourth Reformed. In his contribution to the synchroblog this June. Brother Maynard is a self-professed post-Charismatic and adds value to the conversation from this perspective.” Acts 29.org/about/doctrine/ (accessed November 7. The church’s purpose is to be mission-shaped. 1. Brother Maynard. he noted that missional is at the core of the church’s reason for being. “Doctrine. some within the missional conversation are already wanting to abandon the word in favour of “mission-shaped” or any other term which is less in dispute. He says: As I have defined the term based on the theological history of the conversation and its usage within that context. Remove either of these aspects. Acts 29 is a network of pastors who are first Christians. robbing the word of its subversive power. meaning that all that it is and does reflects upon and is born out of its single mission. the Missio Dei (”God’s mission”).” Indeed.

28:1820.” Acts 29. They go on to define what a missional church is then list several characteristics of a missional church: A missional church is a theologically-formed. kindness and service to others. after the Fall of man. In the Garden of Eden.org/about. he was on a mission. His infrastructure was his life and his passion was to give it away to all who had ears to hear and eyes to see. 47 “About Us.” Vineyard Community Church. where are you?" This is a question of relational longing. I interviewed another missional practitioner whom I respect. Jesus moved and traveled from place to place revealing the nature of the Kingdom of God to and with people.org/acts-29-blog/what-is-a-missional-church/ (accessed November 7. Jesus did not come to earth in the Incarnation to "hang out". Gospel-centered. Genesis 3:9 frames this movement with this question. right here in my own back yard. Spirit-led fellowship who seeks to faithfully incarnate the purposes of Christ.acts29network.sion of God (missio dei) to proclaim the good news of salvation through His Son Jesus Christ. All of salvation history is the story of God passionately pursuing us with his reckless love. one of the co-pastors of Shoreline Vineyard Community Church in Shoreline. "Adam. 2008).html (ac- cessed December 12. WA. Acts 1:8) . 2008). God misses us. Rose Swetman. Elizabeth Chapin •Missional Ecclesiology • George Fox Evangelical Seminary 23 . 46 Scott Thomas. http://vineyard-cc. http://www. This was the mission of Jesus then and he has passed on this mission to his Church.46 Among the list of characteristics they include the centrality of the gospel and the infallibility of God’s Word.a world that has radically changed in North American in the last 50 years. this movement began. On their website47 they describe themselves as: Incarnational Missional Community Followers of Jesus are known for their generosity. The mission of the church is found in the mission of God who is calling the church to passionately participate in God's redemptive mission in the world (Matt. Acts 29 acknowledges changes in the culture in America and being missional is one of their responses to this cultural shift. “What is a Missional Church. His mission was then and still is now a passionate pursuit of all of his missing children to draw them back into a real relationship with himself.

We saw the glory with our own eyes. Generous inside and out. we have also become an incubator for “mission groups” these are groups that form out of people’s passions in response to some area of need for God’s redemptive work in this world. we create opportunities in response to our host community’s needs (we belong to the city’s Community Resource Team which is a place where the city. the school district. like Father. Vineyard Community Church is about mission because people matter.” Missional Hope Much has been written about the post-Christian. We use our building to serve our community by letting social service agencies and community groups use the building for a very minimal cost. social service agencies and others come to the table to discuss what needs are in the city and where the resources are to meet those needs). the one-of-a-kind glory. the local (the host community of where our facility is located) and the global. We do this by honoring the missional activity among us in three realms. “One of our highest values is recognizing where the above is happening in individuals and as a corporate community. the personal. We celebrate “real” stories by bringing those stories out. true from start to finish. postModern cultural shift and some think this missional focus is a reaction to this shift. In some senses this is a good thing. post-Christendom. We (VCC) come alongside and support them to incubate a group that could potentially end up being its own non-profit. if our culture was at one time considered primarily Christian then there would have been no need for mission. Eugene Peterson puts it remarkably in the Message John 1:14 The Word became flesh and blood. and moved into the neighborhood. She offered.We exist to make ordinary attempts (OA’s) to communicate an extraordinary love. the biblical concept would be bringing the ‘shalom’ of God.” I asked Rose to describe a few things that make her faith community missional. but the problem with this assumption is that it assumes there was a time Elizabeth Chapin •Missional Ecclesiology • George Fox Evangelical Seminary 24 . Rose goes on to define missional as “the people of God joining with God in the continued redemptive purposes of putting all things right. like Son.

or that it may get overused and lose it’s distinctiveness. 17. “a missional church is the hope of the post-Christendom era. the Western church is experiencing a re-shaping and a re-thinking of what it means to be church and do mission in the 21st century. Missional seems to be coming into vogue in many streams of the Christian church. I’d like to focus on what missional is and how we see this developing in our context here in America. 2003).48 While many are concerned that missional is a confusing term. Elizabeth Chapin •Missional Ecclesiology • George Fox Evangelical Seminary 25 . or may get hijacked by those who really don’t buy into missional theology.org. I continue to hold onto the term and hope for a shift in thinking in the West and a renewal to participate in the mission of God as a constitutive practice of those who choose to follow Christ and call themselves Christians. According to Michael Frost & Alan Hirsch in The Shaping of Things to Come. the rooting of the term in the mission of God. Here are some highlights from The Shaping of Things to Come defining missional church: 48 49 http://deepchurch.when the church did not need to be missional. I can’t imagine a time either in history or in the future that the church should not be missional. The Shaping of Things to Come: Innovation and Mission For the 21st-Century Church (Peabody. Mass.: Hendrickson Publishers. Missional Church In the midst of rapid cultural change. and the nature of the church as sent people. more than I could cover in this brief overview. From what many are saying about the theology of mission. and may well be discovered as one of the common Christian traditions rooted in the early centuries of the Church that unifies the body of Christ today and characterizes what some have come to call Deep Church.uk/about/ Michael Frost & Alan Hirsch.”49 But what exactly is “missional church”? Is it merely a reaction to Christendom or is “missional” God’s intention for church in the first place? Rather than focus on the Christendom mode that we are emerging out of and thinking about what missional is not.

. While Christendom may have had a distorting influence on church in the Western world 50 51 52 53 54 Ibid. 21. The missional church is messianic in its spirituality seeing the world and God’s place in it as more holistic and integrated than divided between sacred and secular. Ibid.• • The missional church thinks long-term. apostleship. flat-leadership community that unleashes and values the gifts of evangelism. 26 Elizabeth Chapin •Missional Ecclesiology • George Fox Evangelical Seminary . 24. but does not conform to the context merely to blend in but rather recognizes the power of the biblical narrative within a particular context. recognizing how God is already at work in any given context. present and future in view rather than looking for a quick fix.. 2.51 • The missional church takes context seriously. 12. The missional church adopts an apostolic mode of leadership embracing a biblical. The missional church is incarnational disassembling itself and seeping into the cracks and crevices of society in order to be Christ to those who don’t yet know him.50 The missional church desires to be used by the Spirit to transform individuals and cultures for Christ’s sake. and prophecy along with pastoral and teaching gifts. Murray. with the past. wealth and status on the Christian story”54 we must be careful not to react too far in opposition to Christendom forms that we lose the shape and form of church all together. 27. Post-Christendom.52 Frost and Hirsch have come up with three overarching principles that give energy and direction to the missional church. Ibid.. 3. Ibid. 11. They are:53 1.. While missional church may in some ways be a reaction against Christendom and it’s “distorting influence of power.

to the point that they have lost their sense of mission. The Fall of the Evangelical Nation: The Surprising Crisis Inside the Frost & Hirsch. but like the proverbial ostrich.and as a result. Christine Wicker. “This is the classic task of the cross-cultural missionary: to engage culture without compromising the gospel. while older church leaders just take their heads out of the sand long enough to criticize emerging church leaders and their missional mode. The Shaping of Things to Come. why use a new term like “missional” to describe it all? While much of what we see hap- 55 56 Frost & Hirsch.55 and this has been my experience in America. Everyday America becomes a less Christian nation. postChristendom context and to reach this culture some say. has their head stuck in the sand . overall 6. 2008) 57 58 Elizabeth Chapin •Missional Ecclesiology • George Fox Evangelical Seminary .”57 We must learn to meaningfully engage with culture without being beguiled by it.56 The church in the West seems to be blind to this shift and has not shifted out of a Christendom mode. the Church at large has remained missional in many senses and we can find missional tendencies running beneath the surface of what some call “Deep Church” even here in the West. The Shaping of Things to Come. 16. “the church should abandon it’s role as a static institution and embrace it’s initial calling to be a missionary movement. 27 Church (New York: HarperOne. As I’ve been reading about the emerging church and missional church recently I have noticed that much of what is being said is similar to what has been taught for years as missionary training. But there is hope: emerging church leaders in the West are recognizing the need for mission and are creating new forms of church. 9. many churches are dying. The reality remains before us .”58 If this shift requires missionary thinking and missionary methodology. Ibid.000 leave the faith each day. 16. The Evangelical version of Christianity has dropped from 42% of the population in 1900 to 15% today.. Some propose that sociopolitically we have experienced this post-Christendom shift for over 250 years.we live in a largely post-Christian. Twelve hundred evangelicals leave the faith each day.

Missional speaks to not only the global mission of God. Jason Clark proposes that we need a missional ecclesiology for the church that “enables the release and development of good practice.”59 The need for missional church is evident. While.. 2007). 61 Elizabeth Chapin •Missional Ecclesiology • George Fox Evangelical Seminary . but also the local mission of God for the church in it’s home context.. Stone.. some Christians have become so disillusioned with Christendom mode churches that they are abandoning church altogether. whilst remaining suspicious of itself. venturing into postmodern culture as subversive agents of the kingdom. it differs in respect to the location of mission. 78.: Brazos Press. this strategy is dangerous and clearly compromises the gospel embodied within the church. think mission!”61 is a good slogan to help people transition from outdated modes of church. but what will this missional church look like? Unfortunately. When most people think “missionary” they think foreign field. “The very shape of the church in the form of its ordinary practices and patterns of social process constitute its witness in the world by providing a visible and material foretaste of God’s rule.”60 (Evangelism after Christendom. 28 59 60 Witness (Grand Rapids. When the worshiping community of the church delegated the responsibility for mission to parachurch organizations and the missionary societies. but “the separation between the missioning and the worshiping communities within the church has been one of the tragedies of Christianity. . 81. without falling into the naivety Ibid. 313. Mich. Worship and mission and the development of Christian community must inform each other closely and regularly. missional work lacks a community into which new followers of Christ can be formed into citizens of God’s kingdom. In America we have many local “mission” organizations that have kept mission alive. thinking mission without church is foolish. Evangelism After Christendom: The Theology and Practice of Christian Frost & Hirsch. it killed part of the church. The Shaping of Things to Come. Bryan P. 313) Without this visible form.pening in the missional church can be likened to missionary work. “Don’t think church. While this strategy sounds romantic and reminiscent of James Bond-like covert operations.

” Todd is starting a missional movement called Three is Enough (TiE) that will hopefully develop into new missional churches formed with Jesus. not a set of beliefs. God is still moving in our culture and we would do well to join in on this movement of God as cooperative friends who embody a spirituality for the sake of others. and committed to a purpose that implements some form of per62 Jason Clark. 2008. “The Loss of the Church as Public. In The Shaping of Things to Come. In his new book Christianity Beyond Belief. coming out in early 2009.”63 Missional church is a healthy alternative to abandoning church and calls rather for a re-shaping of church to a form that is aware of the dangers of institutionalization remembering that “the church connects with Jesus through mission. ideologically motivated by. 209. 29 ber 10. http://deepchurch. not through getting church right!”64 Missional churches place Jesus at the center instead of a set of core beliefs. entry posted April 18. many are tempted to leave behind “church” in search for something else. at the center.”65 Todd Hunter wonders that maybe Jesus didn’t intend to start a world religion centered around a core set of beliefs.” Deep Church. The Shaping of Things to Come. “Christian Identity. “Our aim in mission is to fully present Jesus and to facilitate connection. Todd Hunter says we need to become “cooperative friends of Jesus living consistent lives of creative goodness for the sake of others through the power of the Holy Spirit inviting others to live a new way. Hirsch and Frost define a movement as “a group of people organized for. 64 65 Elizabeth Chapin •Missional Ecclesiology • George Fox Evangelical Seminary . which is leading to our current dilemma that while “modern church lost it’s soul now it’s losing it’s body. 2008.uk/2008/04/18/the-loss-of-church-as-public/ (accessed October 29. 2008). While the culture around us is increasingly moving away from traditional expressions of Church. Ibid..org.of post-intuitional thinking. 63 Jason Clark.”62 In the emerging church world.” Missional Ecclesiology Face to Face Session 11. OctoFrost & Hirsch. 208.

Todd Hunter. and whose influence is spreading in opposition to the established order within which it originated. TiE groups help locate the mission of God.org/parallel-goals-for-tie-groups/ (accessed October 17. significant social relationships.but what is the cause that motivates people to recruit others to join into this process of spiritual transformation? One way to think of the cause is “renewal.in their world of work. Friendships and organic relationships are the primary means of recruiting people to the cause” and “a renewal movement seeks to change people’s behavior and work in a nonelitist fashion with the masses who live on the fringe of society. what is God moving people towards? As mentioned in other TiE articles. 204.”66 They also note that movements are characterized by “face-to-face recruitment by committed individuals using their own preexisting. Through TiE groups we hope to participate in this renewal movement of God. TiE groups can be effective agents of change simply because of the size and locale of the group since “smaller missional units are more organically responsive to host communities in different subcultures. 69 Elizabeth Chapin •Missional Ecclesiology • George Fox Evangelical Seminary . this renewal movement. new creation (1 Cor. one question we might ask is how do TiE groups define the cause? If God is moving and we are invited to join in what God is doing as cooperative friends. the place they live. “Additional Goals for TiE Groups. 26:24). 30 http://www. The Shaping of Things to Come.68 spiritual transformation is the goal . 205. 211. in the everyday reality of our lives.”67 Through a TiE group people can participate in this movement of God by forming these groups focused around “preexisting.” We see the theme of renewal repeatedly in the scriptures: new covenant (Matt. Frost & Hirsch. Ibid.” As we look at Hirsch and Frost’s definitions..” Three is Enough.sonal or social change. 5:17) and we look forward to the day when the Lord will make all things new (Rev. the people 66 67 68 Ibid..3isenough. and the subculture that a person belongs to . 21:5). significant social relationships.”69 We are living in a subculture rich world. who are actively engaged in the recruitment of others. 2008).

post-Christendom. the cost is the loss of genuine community and longterm. Frost and Hirsch propose that the shaping of things to come includes missional churches that are organic. significant social relationships. It also refers to the way community is structured with a view to the interconnectivity and interrelationship between all aspects of its life. But rather than asking those in our circle of influence to step out and join some foreign Christian subculture.. Most mega-churches have grown large through excellent programming but at what cost? I would agree with Frost and Hirsch. organic health. meaning “simply that the church in all its expressions remains true to its essential nature as a dynamic. we are finding the mega-church is simply not sustainable in a post-Christian. living organism as opposed to a mechanistic-style structure. is missional church the hope for this post-manythings world? While I agree that missional church as defined and described by Frost and Hirsch offers a much more hopeful future than the predominant form of church in the 70 Ibid. reproducible and sustainable. So. purpose and function.is exactly where God wants us to be involved in joining the mission of renewal. Missional church is described as organic. Missional churches focus less on numerical growth within the church and more on growth by multiplication of churches. 210.”70 We find an organic level of interconnectedness and community is only hinted at in larger churches.” TiE groups are a great alternative to traditional church in the West. 31 Elizabeth Chapin •Missional Ecclesiology • George Fox Evangelical Seminary . Christ wants to come alive through us in the midst of your “preexisting. With few exceptions. but what of the existing churches? Will they survive this cultural shift? One of my personal concerns is whether mega-churches will survive in this post-Christian context and whether they can become missional churches. postmodern world. And it implies an innate responsiveness to its environment.they hang with when having fun . Frost and Hirsch would argue against the probability of mega-churches being missional largely due to their size and structure.

But for a people of hope. Murray. we will do well together. That is why hope is subversive in a world that is cynical and stoic about the way things are. Post-Christendom. and as it is with evangelism so it is with mission: “Evangelism takes time. inspiring us to change and align ourselves with his purposes.”71 We must not despair as the church moves from the center of society to the margins72 in the midst of this rapid cultural change. un-reached region of our nation – the Pacific Northwest. his mission in the world by being missional in the local spaces and places we inhabit on a daily basis. in my church culture I have felt alone. and devoted to following Christ as authentically as I know how. 32 Elizabeth Chapin •Missional Ecclesiology • George Fox Evangelical Seminary . I often wonder if there is any real hope for the church in the West – will we see God moving and people responding and choosing to follow him more than we are now? If we just change in the right ways. will God then show up and move in power? Or is God is already moving in the West and inviting us to join his mission. committed to discipleship.West. 294. That is also why an evangelism formed by hope will always stand fundamentally counter to an evangelism formed by that great impostor of hope. I find I am not alone. But as I meet people like Alan Hirsch and read his books. In other words. and organizes its life around. In The Forgotten Ways. We must have hope. I have been on mission in America for 25 years now with the last 15 years spent in the most un-churched. Hirsch offers a working definition of missional church as “a community of God’s people that defines itself. I will continue to fix my hope completely on grace revealed through Jesus. its real purpose of being an agent of God’s mission to the world. I have struggled for years as a mission-minded person. Yet. it is precisely time that we have been given. This shift to a missional mode of church will take time. Evangelism After Christendom. the author and perfecter of faith and as long as missional church keeps its focus fixed solely on Jesus. despair. While we must have hope in Christ and God’s global mission. the church’s true and authentic organizing principle is mis- 71 72 Stone.

somehow the church. But rather than give up on terminology that is appropriate for this situation. The Forgotten Ways: Reactivating the Missional Church. 82. it is the true church. mDNA is the structure for Apostolic Genius and illustrated beautifully in two visuals worth a thousand words: 73 Alan Hirsch.”73 (Hirsch 2006. coherence. 2006).of mDNA distinguishes it from the biological construct the metaphor is derived from and stands for missional. When the church is in mission. Elizabeth Chapin •Missional Ecclesiology • George Fox Evangelical Seminary 33 . The mission of God flows directly through every believer and every community of faith that adheres to Jesus. Survival of the Fittest and Selective Breeding Hirsch chooses the metaphor of DNA for the elements of Apostolic Genius because it conveys the ideas of inherence. will collapse into mission. The m. reproducibility and transferability. Hirsch affirms that there has been much misunderstanding of the term missional and that some have misused it or misunderstood it.sion.: Brazos Press. the formed and gathered body of Christ. (Grand Rapids. I don’t see this happening but rather I see the church being strengthened and built up to be the people God intended them to be organized around and committed to his mission to the world. he has chosen to clarify and distinguish the term and uses it as the core of Apostolic Genius in mDNA – where m = missional. 82) Some are concerned that with a missional focus for the church. To obstruct this is to block God’s purposes in and through his people. As Hirsch uses the term. The church itself is not only a product of that mission but is obligated and destined to extend it by whatever means possible. Mich.

Elizabeth Chapin •Missional Ecclesiology • George Fox Evangelical Seminary 34 .

It will not help us to merely understand how important disciple making is and how best to do it in our changing cultural context. and probably many are represented in existing churches. that makes up the Apostolic Genius that has the power to change the world. they must become missionally fit. degenerating. He uses the idea of Elizabeth Chapin •Missional Ecclesiology • George Fox Evangelical Seminary 35 . I am very excited for the new and emerging churches that are starting with an understanding of Apostolic Genius. Just study these visuals and somehow absorb them into your spirit and allow them to re-place your existing xDNA constructs . there you have it. Our missional-incarnational impulse will not create a movement unless we are moving in missional-incarnational ways.where x stands for anything other than m. Hirsch offers an online assessment of missional fitness and I believe we are seeing the survival of the fittest and for the church in the West to be missionally reactivated.So. we must be doing it. Just as we have seen that best-selling books don’t change the world for Jesus. declining church in the West. The subtitle for the book is “reactivating the missional church” and is the key aim. If only it were that easy. or maybe even mutated for many of them. understanding and agreeing with “The Forgotten Ways” will not change a deformed. inspiring the imagination with the hopes of activating the church. it is the combination of all of them together. centered around the lordship of Christ. Hisrch is very careful in his introduction as well as in every chapter detailing the elements of mDNA to emphasize that while all of the individual elements are great. so too. merely reading about. Hirsch’s use of the metaphor of mDNA includes the ideas of replication and healthy reproduction. or are forced to find it like the Chinese underground church. deactivated. Hirsch describes each of the elements artfully. now you don’t need to read The Forgotten Ways. I am thrilled by the many missional church leaders who are trying new things and appear to be making a difference and seeing people respond to the life-changing gospel embodied through their missional churches. The biggest challenge I see for the church in the West is for the existing churches to reactivate this mDNA and recover the Apostolic Genius that has been long forgotten.

marrying empire with faith. church with politics and as in biology. I think there are four main factors contributing to this failure: • • • • Neglect – we have neglected to activate mDNA in our offspring. but have not found one that communicates the communicability of the gospel as does the viral image. the dearth of fully devoted followers of Christ in America is evidence that these programs are not working. Elizabeth Chapin •Missional Ecclesiology • George Fox Evangelical Seminary 36 . Hirsch believes that one of the greatest ene74 See Kimball. 2007.wikipedia.the gospel spreading as an ideavirus (Seth Godin) and while the implications of such a spread are positive. the verbal imagery of virus leaves me wanting. I’ve been thinking hard to find an alternative image. but not always. we cannot attribute the fall of Christianity in America or the West to one factor alone. we are in decline because we have failed to reproduce healthy. Hybridization – we have allowed breeding with different species. Cloning – we try to reproduce through copy-catism . and Barren Mutants The failure to make disciples is one of the most critical failures of the church in the West. “Let’s Talk about Sex” as he discusses the issue of reproduction and reproducibility. “Hybrids are usually. both physical and spiritual. Dan.replication not reproduction.org/wiki/Cross_breeding#Hybrid_animals tions. 2008). failure to make disciples is at the top of my list. While our churches are replete with discipleship programs. Grand Rapids: Zondervan. If we are in such rapid decline.” Wikipedia. But. http://en.”75 Failure to Thrive. But then. They Like Jesus but Not The Church: Insights from Emerging Genera“Crossbreed. Inbreeding – we stagnate the gene pool by cloistering in our Christian bubbles74 and ultimately end up with unhealthy mutations. reproducing Christians. Hirsch switches images and writes. This is where I see the Church in the West has failed. Just as we need the full complement of elements inherent in Apostolic Genius to change things. 75 (accessed November 20. Unconscionable Copies. sterile.

One of my favorite Arnold Schwarzenegger movies (yes. 139) and when we are copying how Christ chose to send a group of people and reveal himself through them in a 76 Hirsch. Clones are merely a vacant copy. prayed about whether to call them to discipleship. (Romans 12:2) Rather than making fully devoted followers of Christ we are producing weakling Christians suffering from spiritual neglect resulting in a failure to thrive. I have been discouraged by the number of churches who see another church having great success and using the logic that they don’t want to reinvent the wheel. “Ninety percent or more of the people who attend church services are passive. and Purpose Driven Proselytes when God wants us to be Missional-Incarnational Masterpieces representing him in distinct ways in our unique contexts. The Forgotten Ways.mies of the church in the West is consumerism.”76 Instead of following the model of Jesus who spotted the Twelve. we’re all Willow Creek Wannabes. This has not happened in real life. 162) The “church world” can be a powerful conforming influence lulling us into a false sense of security thinking we are being conformed to the image of Christ when we are really being pressed into the mold of Christendom and consumer Christianity.”(Hsu 2006. 110. In other words they are consumptive. So. Recently. Our discipleship programs have become yet another service the church offers as it has become a dispenser of religious goods and services. an identical physical representation with a life of it’s own. The reproductive capacities of the church are directly linked to the missionalincarnational impulse (Hirsch 2006. and then pursued them and invited them to join him in his life and ministry. 37 Elizabeth Chapin •Missional Ecclesiology • George Fox Evangelical Seminary . or in the case of identical twins. they attempt to copy that other church – especially if that church has experienced tremendous growth or popularity. we have offered discipleship services for a price to anyone who will come at no real significant personal cost without interfacing with their everyday life as our mega-churches with food courts and fitness centers create a sort of “parallel universe. I am a big fan) is “The 6th Day” and in this movie they have developed the ability to transfer the consciousness of a person being cloned.

but I wonder what those jokes would sound like if we put them in the context of some of our churches. we are creating unconscionable copies void of the creative power needed to make a difference at all.”78 I believe that some of the criticisms of the church offered in recent books like Kimball’s are the result of years of inbreeding. “If we put up this [Saddleback or Willow Creek] as the sole model of effective church. I believe the church has suffered from hybridization through the marriage of empire and faith through Christendom as well as the quest for political power through the marriage of church and politics. 215. we are being neither missional nor incarnational and we are certainly not reproducing organically. we experience inbreeding. The resulting mutations of both inbreeding and hybridization have left the church barren. You’ve probably heard all those bad jokes about inbreeding associated with certain regions of our country. Some have noticed that in America we have a tendency to create a Christian sub-culture and then cocoon ourselves within that sub-culture.”77 Rather than reproducing effective ministries with the power to change the world. the church] by giving rise to more possibilities in the genetic makeup. As usual. Healthy reproduction therefore draws upon a much larger gene pool and thereby invigorates the living system [in this case. the net effect will be to marginalize most people from ministry and church planting. Serious deformities and weaknesses result from inbreeding. 38 Elizabeth Chapin •Missional Ecclesiology • George Fox Evangelical Seminary . As a result..specific context. to the point of near extinction in Europe and rapid decline in America. and it will effectively put a contraceptive on the reproductive mechanism of the church. considered one of the most successful 77 78 Ibid.. Ibid. 213. But along with inbreeding. I often return to one of the lingering questions in my life and my church world – can the mega-church become missional? Will the mega-church survive. and should it? Willow Creek. “We all know what happens in a closed genetic pool.

Ibid. 2008). Such leaders don’t necessarily have to be highly creative innovators themselves. the voiceless ones. 257. this can be lethal. greatest vehicle to 79 Url Scaramanga.html (accessed November 20. comes from the bottom up and that it is the task of leadership to create the conditions that foster imagination. for “the organic approach says that real change. the forgotten.”79 Neither Willow Creek nor 40 Days of Purpose seem to be the answer to the dilemma of the church in the West. can exhibit a tendency to avoid conflict and too easily soothe tensions. Other things that we didn’t put that much money into and didn’t put much staff against is stuff our people are crying out for. 39 Elizabeth Chapin •Missional Ecclesiology • George Fox Evangelical Seminary . because it caters to equilibrium and therefore ultimately to death. many leaders in church organizations. “Some of the stuff that we have put millions of dollars into thinking it would really help our people grow and develop spiritually. initiative. http://blog. and I don’t think a book like “The Forgotten Ways” with all it’s great ideas and inspiration to rethink and reactivate Apostolic Genius is the answer either.com/outofur/archives/2007/10/willow_creek_re. the people leaving their traditional church contexts looking for a change – this will be the change. I think a movement of people who are the least.”81 I’m not looking for the latest. The Forgotten Ways. 256. but rather be people who can move the church into adaptive modes – people who can disturb the stifling equilibrium and create the conditions for change and innovation. it wasn’t helping people that much. more agile. mode of church. 80 81 Hirsch..churches in America after which thousands of churches have patterned themselves recently revealed their own sense of failure. especially lasting change. and creativity.”80 Hirsch offers a “note of warning for those leading in established churches: what Western Christianity desperately needs at the moment is adaptive leadership – people who can help us transition to a different. “Willow Creek Repents?” Out of Ur. By and large. particularly those with strong caring and teaching gifts. when the data actually came back.christianitytoday. Left unchecked.

suburban mega-churches. 2008). I am looking for a group of people who are willing to think different about church and mission. “We all agree with the theory of being a community of God that defines and organizes itself around the purpose of being an agent of God's mission in the world. indigenous churches are getting lots of attention. “Small. http://blog. preaching. Frank Viola is one of the leading voices in the house church movement in America and he believes that many churches have shifted away from God’s original intent for the church. “Dan Kimball's Missional Misgivings. the specific challenges will differ for house churches. Does Missional = Organic? While this missional challenge applies to new churches that are forming in today’s culture and existing churches alike. urban multi-site churches and all the other variations we see on the landscape of Christianity in the West. But the missional conversation often goes a step further by dismissing the ‘attractional’ model of church as ineffective. Some say that creating better programs. Elizabeth Chapin •Missional Ecclesiology • George Fox Evangelical Seminary 40 .christianitytoday. Others wonder. and allow people to develop a sense of Apostolic Genius and reactivate the missional church to follow the movement of God as he continues to send people to be a blessing to the whole world.com/outofur/archives/2008/12/dan_kimballs_mi. but where's the fruit?”82 Many in the missional movement are reticent to measure “fruit” and resist trying to quantify and clarify missional effectiveness according to church growth standards. but to propose that any mode of church is inherently more missional than others loses sight of the complexities of the issues at hand. adapt to the challenges of changing culture. and worship serv- 82 Dan Kimball. But some are arguing that for a church to be missional it must be smaller and more organic than many of our current church models. Dan Kimball notes.drive as I embark on some mission driven life. While his arguments for house churches are convincing.html (accessed December 12. I do not believe missional must necessarily be confined to any one form of gathering as the body of Christ.” Out of Ur. rural denominational churches.

the essence of what it means to be a follower of Christ is not something new.”83 It seems that some megachurches can be missionally effective in reaching certain people groups. and with hope for the future. But here's my dilemma—I see no evidence to verify this claim. with love for our brothers and sisters in Christ who see things a little differently than we do. We must also not forget the powerful forces militating against the formation of a people who accurately reflect Christ to the world and radically make a difference restoring this world to God. Hirsch and others are convinced that while God may want us to do something new. while smaller house churches can be effective at reaching others. but also before every follower of Christ who seeks to be fully devoted to Christ. but something that has been forgotten and as the proponents of Deep Church say it.ices so people ‘come to us’ isn't going to cut it anymore.” So. what exactly is it that we have forgotten? What do we need to remember? Is it the five-fold ministry outlined in Ephesians 4? Is it the common tradition of the one Church? Or is it something else? And when did we forget these things? What lead to such a forgetfulness? What have we learned that needs to be forgotten in order for us to restore what needs to be remembered? It is certain that 83 Ibid. knowing that God’s intention to bring all things to completion will happen in time. we need to be “Remembering Our Future. I am looking forward to the future. We must be careful not to limit the creativity and ingenuity of the Spirit of God in shaping and forming the body of Christ to be missional. 41 Elizabeth Chapin •Missional Ecclesiology • George Fox Evangelical Seminary . The challenge remains not only before established churches and newly planted churches. and I hear the sounds of this motif ringing louder in the West as the missional conversation continues and many Christians are awakening to the call of God to join the Missio dei for the sake of others. Missional Reprise The missional motif remains strong in my personal life. We must face this challenge with grace and discernment.

is in all things. 50. and values. If anyone has the power to change things. While on the surface things may look bleak in my world as the church continues to decline. Jesus reminds us that often when things are impossible for us.”84 We need to change and adopt a missionary stance in relation to our cultural contexts or face increasing decline and possible extinction. 17. 42 Elizabeth Chapin •Missional Ecclesiology • George Fox Evangelical Seminary . especially as they relate to our view of the church and mission. they are not impossible for God. The Forgotten Ways. perceptions. and I could see it all I had a vision and I heard you call me Now the dream is over. Music speaks to my soul. as the words of this song by Iona prophetically spoke to me when I first heard them: It started with a dream. dancing on the wall The writing's on the paper. While it is challenging to discern what it is we need to leave behind.85 But is fundamental change possible? According to Alan Deutschman. the names upon the page 84 85 Hirsch. holds all things together. odds are against such fundamental change within organizations. it is the God of the universe who creates all things. What we need today is “a new paradigm – a new vision of reality: a fundamental change in our thoughts. it is equally challenging to change our thinking in new ways. Thankfully.there are competing ways that have been developed over the centuries that we would do well to leave behind us as we seek to recover God’s missional motif. and makes things new.. but the voice remains I am part of something that is going To change things for the better To change things for the better And I hear you call And I see you dancing. Ibid. I hear God calling – calling me to participate in his mission here and now. author of “Change or Die”.

and the picture will fade But I am part of something That is going to sway things for the better Going to sway things for the better And I hear you call And I see you dancing. but you must not turn to them. words. dancing on the wall It started with a dream. if you utter worthy. I am choosing to join my voice with others who are calling for change – for a new way of thinking about church and mission in the West. dancing on the wall And I hear you call And I see you dancing. not worthless. you will be my spokesman. dancing on the wall I believe I am part of something that is going to change things for the better. Another voice spoke to me from Jeremiah 15:19: Therefore this is what the LORD says: "If you repent. I am part of the great family of God in Christ that has changed things for centuries. and this coming of age I see a revolution I never thought would dawn I am part of something that's going to go on And on for the better To go on and on for the better And I hear you call And I see you dancing. Let this people turn to you. I am part of the movement of God in this day and age that is continuing to change things. I will restore you that you may serve me.” Elizabeth Chapin •Missional Ecclesiology • George Fox Evangelical Seminary 43 . and I still recall I see a bridge where there once was a wall of stone Now the dream is over.The past part of the present.

Elizabeth Chapin •Missional Ecclesiology • George Fox Evangelical Seminary 44 . and reorganize ourselves around the mission of God so that we can be restored to a life full of hope for a world in need. and believe that the many voices singing the missional motif will help us to reframe our concept of church. rethink our mission.I truly hope and pray for a reactivation of the missional church. for a restoration of the people of God on mission with God.

Paul. Harper One. Christine. George Fox Seminary. They Like Jesus but Not The Church: Insights from Emerging Generations. 2008. Cook. I’m Fine with God. Kimball. rev. Authentic Media. 2007. David and Lyons.: Brazos Press. 2008. 2007. Jenkins. Hsu. The Myth of a Christian Nation: How the Quest for Political Power Is Destroying the Church. Dan. Gabe. Edited by Andrew Walker and Luke Bretherton. and Why It Matters. 2003. The Forgotten Ways: Reactivating the Missional Church. Al. Philip. Remembering Our Future: Explorations in Deep Church. Back to Jerusalem: Three Chinese House Church Leaders Share Their Vision to Complete the Great Commission. and ed. Missional Ecclesiology Face to Face. David C. The Fall of the Evangelical Nation: The Surprising Crisis Inside the Church. Clark. 2007 Viola. It’s Christians I Can’t Stand: Getting Past the Religious Garbage in the Search for Spiritual Truth. Gregory. Baker Books. 2007 Kinnaman. Stan. The Next Christendom: The Coming of Global Christianity. Frank. Grand Rapids: Zondervan. Rick. Boyd. unChristian: What a New Generation Really Thinks about Christianity. The Purpose Driven Life: What on Earth Am I Here For? Grand Rapids: Zondervan. InterVarsity Press. 2008.. Harvest House. Hirsch. Bruce and Jantz. Mich. 2008. Zondervan. 2007. Reimagining Church: Pursuing the Dream of Organic Christianity. Wicker. Jason. Grand Rapids. 2006. New York: Oxford University Press. Elizabeth Chapin •Missional Ecclesiology • George Fox Evangelical Seminary 45 . Alan.Bibliography: Bickel. 2007. 2006. The Suburban Christian: Finding Spiritual Vitality in the Land of Plenty. Warren. London: Authentic Media.. Hattaway.

Sign up to vote on this title
UsefulNot useful