Cautiously Missional

"Missional" is a word that has come along in recent years with great excitement in many cases. Pastors, churches, and even seminaries have been bold to proclaim themselves "missional." The problem is that it is a frustratingly slippery word. Brian MacLaren defines it one way and Mark Driscoll another. I don't mind the word, indeed I wouldn't mind adopting it so long as it means a commitment to advance the Gospel (as Scripture defines "Gospel").

Ed Stetzer has written
a helpful piece on the issue of "missional" at the Lifeway Research blog.

After some opening observations Stetzer then asks some questions:

All this provokes me to ask, "Why are so many missional Christians uninvolved in God's global mission?" As the missional conversation continues and deepens, what has occurred that has led to our blindness to the lost world around us?

Stetzer offers the following thoughts that I believe are worthy of reflection.
1) In rediscovering God's mission, many have only discovered its personal dimensions [as opposed to its global ones].

2) In responding to God's mission, many have wanted to be more mission-shaped and have therefore made everything "mission." [The result is that the special need for sending missionaries to foreign lands is made fuzzy and ultimately lost.]

3) In relating God's mission, the message increasingly includes the hurting but less
frequently includes the global lost. [The emphasis is on relief of temporal suffering, rather than eternal suffering.]

4) In refocusing on God's mission, many are focusing on being good news rather than telling good news. [As Stetzer says, "As many missional Christians have sought to "embody" the gospel, they have chosen to forsake one member of Christ's body--the mouth."]

5) In reiterating God's mission, many lose the context of the church's global mission and needed global presence. ["Hyper focus on our community" leads to a loss of focus on the wider world and God's mission in it.]