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What Does It Mean To Be Missional?

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By Author: Brain Reed
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There is a lot of talk in the Christian community about engaging with those who are outside of the walls of the church by being missional. Yet when the word missional comes up, it seems like everyone has their own definition. Missions have long been an emphasis of the church, yet a missional church takes a look at what it means to be a missionary in one's own culture.

When an average church member thinks about mission work, they see visions of far away lands, foreign languages, primitive living conditions and perhaps most importantly, work that someone else completes. However, living missionally means that missions are something that everyone has been called to and the field is whatever culture an individual lives and works within.

This concept is based upon the example of Jesus Christ, who in his incarnation lived in the Jewish culture, worked as a carpenter and in many ways lived a ‘typical' life. By Christ's example, missional living means a contextualization of the gospel to ones culture. As George Peters said in his book Biblical Theology of Missions, If man is to be reached, he must be reached within ...
... his own culture. That means there is no better missionary to the world you live in than you. Part of that is because of an assumed understanding and engagement of the culture as well as the ability to speak in the words that the culture understands rather than ‘tribal language' that is so often employed in the church.

Additionally, the missional approach seeks to re-tell the stories of the culture with the gospel. That again means an intimate knowledge of and engagement with the culture in which you live. In order to do that effectively, it is important for a missional church to theologically train lay people for their public life and vocation. Not only do church members need to receive training in prayer, Bible study, and evangelism, but also instruction on how to think about everything they come in contact with in a way that is distinctly influenced by their faith.

Finally, missional churches seek to create Christian community which is counter-cultural and counter-intuitive. Community is more than just relationships, support and accountability. It also should speak to topics such as sex, race, and social justice in a way which might be unexpected to some. For example, Tim Keller says, A church must be more deeply and practically committed to deeds of compassion and social justice than traditional liberal churches and more deeply and practically committed to evangelism and conversion than traditional fundamentalist churches.

The guide for being missional must be scripture. Scripture must drive our methods by whatever name we give them. The challenge for all churches, including Bowling Green churches is to discern what a missional approach is while maintaining a fixed Biblical position.  Grace & Peace is a group of individuals who gather weekly to have their lives restored by the gospel. They are knit together by a message tailor-made for broken people — people who find it easier to pretend than to be transformed.   We can never hope for lasting transformation apart from the work of God's spirit in and through His people.

Brian Reed. bowling green churches - What Does It Mean To Be Missional?

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