Today is my first day speaking to a church in Montana about transitioning to a Missional community. This is no easy task when it means sacrificing cherished traditions that once worked, but are no longer effective for reaching the lost.  My brothers and sisters in MT are not alone, however, in their struggle to change.  Many years ago, I had my own concerns over the “Missional” movement.

For a long time, I perceived the word Missional as one of those Evangelically Sexy words–lots of appeal with little substance.  In 2007, I spent time exploring all things Missional and was pleased to discover that despite its abuse by some, the term itself has had a long history of positive use that meshes well with my own philosophy of life in Christ.

I see missional…

  • In the Church’s Divine Identity—Diversity, Unity, Enjoyment, and Growth.
  • In he Church’s DNA of Community—Faith, Integrity, Commitment, Accountability, and Incarnation.
  • In he Church’s DNA of Generational-Leadership
  • In he Church’s Simple Mission—Reveal, Love, and Abide.
  • In he Church’s Path to Making Disciples
  • In God’s design for Elders as the Community Catalyst.
  • In the call of Christ to finish the Unfinished Parable.

A driving conviction for me is that church is the messenger of the Way; not the alternative. We are not a Christian Disneyland or a Spiritual Starbucks. We cannot compete with the world so we must stop wasting our money and time trying. If we embrace this concept, we can be nothing less than missional in our structures, methods, practices, and lifestyle.

As I look back into the early 2000’s, I often felt alone in my struggle to live as a square peg in a round world and was happy to find fellowship with the Missional community. The Friend of Missional website gives a marvelous summary of the term missional. I have made some changes in the wording to give this my own flair, but in large part the following is attributable to FOM.

  1. A missional church is a collection of disciples acting in concert to fulfill the mission of the Father.
  2. A missional church finds Her identity and vocation in being the Bride in waiting–sent by Jesus.
  3. A missional church insures each individual is willing and ready to be Christ in their own situation and place.
  4. A missional church knows She must be a cross-cultural (contextual) people and go out into Her community.
  5. A missional church is engaged with the culture (in the world) without being absorbed by the culture (not of the world). She will become intentionally indigenous.
  6. A missional church understands that God is already present in the surrounding culture. Therefore, Her goal is not to bring individuals into a sacred space, but introduces them to a sacred people.
  7. A missional church is about being — being conformed to the image of YHWH.
  8. A missional church will seek to plant all types of missional communities.
  9. A missional church is evangelistic and faithfully proclaims the gospel through word and deed. Words alone are not sufficient; how the gospel is embodied in our Family-life and service is equally important.
  10. A missional church understands the power of the gospel and does not lose confidence in it.
  11. A missional church will align Her activities around the mission of YHWH.
  12. A missional church puts the good of their neighbor over Her own.
  13. A missional church will demonstrate integrity, morality, good character, compassion, love and a resurrection life filled with hope so that She might lend credence to Her reasoned verbal witness.
  14. A missional church practices hospitality by welcoming the stranger into the midst of community.
  15. A missional church will see Herself as a Family on a mission together. There are no “Lone Ranger” Christians in a missional church.
  16. A missional church will see Herself as a representative of Jesus and will do nothing to dishonor His name.
  17. A missional church will be totally reliant on God in all She does. She will move beyond childlike faith to a life of supernatural living.
  18. A missional church will be desperately dependent on prayer.
  19. A missional church gathers for the purpose of worship, encouragement, supplemental teaching, training, to seek God’s presence and to be realigned with God’s missionary purpose.
  20. A missional church is orthodox in Her view of the gospel and scripture, but culturally meaningful in Her methods and practice so that She can engage the world view of all who will listen.
  21. A missional church will feed deeply on the scriptures throughout the week.
  22. A missional church will be a community where all members are involved in learning “the way of Jesus.” Spiritual development is not an expectation.
  23. A missional church will help people discover and develop their Spirit-Giftings and will rely on gifted people for ministry instead of talented people.
  24. A missional church is a healing community where people carry each other’s burdens and help restore gently.
  25. A missional church requires that Her leaders be missiologists.

Missional Reading List

Inspired by Brad Brisco over at Sentralized, along with several additions from the comments section, here is a list of the top books on Missional.  I confess, I have read very few of these books, but feel inspired to add several to my reading list.

Allen, Roland
Missionary Methods: St. Paul’s or Ours?
Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co, 1962

Barrett, Lois Y.
Treasures in Clay Jars: Patterns in Missional Faithfulness
Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2004.

Blauw, Johannes.
The Missionary Nature of the Church: A Survey of the Biblical Theology of Mission
New York: McGraw-Hill, 1962.

Bosch, David J.
Transforming Mission: Paradigm Shifts in Theology of Mission
Maryknoll, N.Y.: Orbis, 1991.

Brafman, Ori and Rod A. Beckstrom.
The Starfish and the Spider: The Unstoppable Power of Leaderless Organizations
Portfolio Trade, 2008.

Cole, Neil.
Organic Church: Growing Faith Where Life Happens
San Francisco: Jossey-Bass, 2005.

Cole, Neil.
Organic Leadership:  Leading Naturally Right Where You Are
Baker Books, 2010.

Dubose, Francis.
God Who Sends: A Fresh Quest for Biblical Mission
Nashville: Broadman, 1983.

Fitch, David.
The Great Giveaway: Reclaiming the Mission of the Church from Big Business, Parachurch Organizations, Psychotherapy, Consumer Capitalism, and Other Modern Maladies
Baker Books, 2005.

Frost, Michael and Alan Hirsch.
The Shaping of Things to Come: Innovation and Mission for the 21st Century Church
Peabody, Mass.: Hendrickson, 2003.

Frost, Michael and Alan Hirsch.
ReJesus: A Wild Messiah for a Missional Church
Hendrickson Press, 2008.

Frost, Michael.
Exiles: Living Missionally in a Post-Christian Culture
Hendrickson, 2006.

Frost, Michael.
The Road to Missional: Journey to the Center of the Church
Baker, 2011.

Guder, Darrell
Missional Church: A Vision for the Sending of the Church in North America
Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1998.

Guder, Darrell
The Incarnation and the Church’s Witness
Wipf & Stock, 2005.

Guder, Darrell
The Continuing Conversion of the Church
Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2000.

Halter, Hugh and Matt Smay.
The Tangible Kingdom: Creating Incarnational Community
San Francisco: Jossey-Bass, 2008.

Halter, Hugh and Matt Smay.
And: The Gathered and Scattered Church
Zondervan, 2010.

Hauerwas, Stanley.
After Christendom? How the Church Is to Behave If Freedom, Justice, and a Christian Nation Are Bad Ideas
Nashville: Abingdon, 1991.

Hirsch, Alan.
The Forgotten Ways: Reactivating the Missional Church
Grand Rapids: Brazos Press, 2006.

Hirsch, Alan and Deb.
Untamed:  Reactivating a Missional Form of Discipleship
Baker Books, 2010.

Hirsch, Alan and Lance Ford.
Right Here, Right Now: Everyday Mission for Everyday People
Baker Books, 2011.

Hirsch, Alan and Dave Ferguson.
On The Verge: A Journey Into the Apostolic Future of the Church
Zondervan, 2011.

Hirsch, Alan and Michael Frost.
The Faith of Leap: Embracing a Theology of Risk, Adventure & Courage
Baker, 2011.

Hirsch, Alan and Tim Catchim.
The Permanent Revolution: Apostolic Imagination and Practice for the 21st Century Church
Jossey-Bass, 2012.

Hunsberger, George, and Craig Van Gelder.
The Church Between Gospel and Culture: The Emerging Mission in North America
Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1996.

Hunter III, George G.
The Celtic Way of Evangelism, Tenth Anniversary Edition: How Christianity Can Reach the West . . .Again
Abingdon Press, 2010

McNeal, Reggie.
Present Future: Six Tough Questions for the Church
San Francisco: Jossey-Bass, 2003.

McNeal, Reggie.
Missional Renaissance: Changing the Scorecard for the Church
San Francisco: Jossey-Bass, 2009.

Miller, J.R.
More Than Cake: 52 Meditations to Feed Your Teams
EmergingLife Publications, 2011

Newbigin, Lesslie.
Foolishness to the Greeks: The Gospel and Western Culture
Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1986.

Newbigin, Lesslie.
The Gospel in a Pluralistic Society
Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1989.

Oldenburg, Ray.
The Great Good Place: Cafes, Coffee Shops, Bookstores, Bars, Hair Salons, and Other Hangouts at the Heart of the Community
Marlowe & Company, 1999.

Pohl, Christine D.
Making Room: Recovering Hospitality as a Christian Tradition
Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1999.

Roxburgh, Alan J.
The Sky is Falling: Leaders Lost in Transition
Eagle, Idaho: ACI Publishing, 2005.

Roxburgh, Alan.
Misisonal: Joining God in the Neighborhood
Baker, 2011.

Roxburgh, Alan and Scott Boren.
Introducing the Missional Church: What It Is, Why It Matters, How to Become One 
Grand Rapids, MI: Baker, 2009.

Roxburgh, Alan J. & Fred Romanuk.
The Missional Leader: Equipping Your Church to Reach a Changing World
San Francisco: Jossey-Bass, 2006.

Sanneh, Lamin
Disciples of All Nations: Pillars of World Christianity
Oxford: Oxford University, 2008.

Sanneh, Lamin
Whose Religion is Christianity: The Gospel Beyond the West
Grand Rapids, Eerdmans, 2003.

Stetzer, Ed and David Putman.
Breaking the Missional Code: Your Church Can Become a Missionary in Your Community
Broadman & Holman, 2006.

Swanson, Eric and Sam Williams.
To Transform a City: Whole Church, Whole Gospel, Whole City
Zondervan, 2010.

Van Gelder, Craig.
Confident Witness – Changing World: Rediscovering the Gospel in North America
Eerdmans, 1999.

Van Gelder, Craig.
The Ministry of the Missional Church: A Community Led by the Spirit
Baker, 2007.

Van Gelder, Craig.
Missional Church in Perspective: Mapping Trends and Shaping the Conversation
Baker, 2011.

Wright, Christopher J.H.
The Mission of God: Unlocking the Bible’s Grand Narrative
Downers Grove: InterVarsity Press, 2006.

Wilson-Hartgrove, Jonathan
New Monasticism: What It Has to Say to Today’s Church
Brazos Press, 2008

Dr. J.R. Miller is a Professor of Applied Theology and Leadership & Dean of Online Learning at Southern California Seminary. Outside work, he is a church planter. Dr. Miller has a diverse educational background and authored multiple books on church history, biblical theology, and Leadership. Joe and his wife Suzanne enjoy the sun and surf with their 3 sons in San Diego, CA.

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