Sunday, June 22, 2008

Missional SynchroBlog

Rick Meigs over at Blind Beggar recently voiced his "continuing concern that the term missional has become over used and wrongly used." So to foster some discussion about what we all mean by "missional" he put out a call for a SynchroBlog on the topic for today. I'm pleased to be one of 50 bloggers taking a crack at it, and savoring the irony of 50 bloggers writing about a term we're concerned is being over used. But that's just me. ;)

For a change of prose, I'm going to let my Inner Modern sit this one out, along with some of my better judgement perhaps, and just start out with this:

Missional is like pornography. It's hard to define but you know it when you see it.

Here's what I've been seeing lately.

I heard one person trying to explain house church to another, saying it was not just another worship option, like going from traditional to contemporary to house church worship. "It's not an alternative worship service - it's an alternative lifestyle." That's missional.

I was thinking about the Lord's Prayer. The petition "Hallowed be thy name" always feels like it's still awaiting translation into English. I think it wants to be something like "I want you to be famous everywhere!" followed by "And I want everything to be just the way you want it!" Or maybe even this: "My Father - large and in charge, oh yeah!!" Either way, it strikes me - what does a life look like when those two things are at the very top of your prayer list? Missional.

Recently I gave myself the challenge of telling the Old Testament story in three minutes or less and produced this narrated slideshow. In it, I set the stage for Abraham by saying that at first everything was good, but then something went wrong and it all came apart. Then I summarized God's response to the crisis with these words; "I am going to fix this, no matter how long it takes, no matter how much it costs me." Now that's missional!

I've been helping the congregation I serve re-think "membership" along the following lines. Church membership is not like health club membership where you pay for privileges. Rather, it's like public radio where the programming is free but people join anyway because they believe in the mission and want to help keep it free for other people too. But better still, Church membership is like yet another organization people join voluntarily because they believe in the mission: the Army. Public radio listeners are still mostly passive receivers, but in the Army you are the one who does the work. That's why they send you right off to basic training - a great model for new church members, eh? That's missional.

So... string all that together and it comes out something like this: An alternative lifestyle where your top priorities are all about signing on to God's project to repair the World because you want to do that work. That's missional.

I hope there's something helpful to you there - that always feels like my little part of the mission. And I invite you to check out what the others have to say as well. The blogroll is included below.



Missional SynchroBlog Blogger List
Alan Hirsch
Alan Knox
Andrew Jones
Barb Peters
Bill Kinnon
Brad Brisco
Brad Grinnen
Brad Sargent
Brother Maynard
Bryan Riley
Chad Brooks
Chris Wignall
Cobus Van Wyngaard
Dave DeVries
David Best
David Fitch
David Wierzbicki
Doug Jones
Duncan McFadzean
Erika Haub
Jamie Arpin-Ricci
Jeff McQuilkin
John Smulo
Jonathan Brink
JR Rozko
Kathy Escobar
Len Hjalmarson
Makeesha Fisher
Malcolm Lanham
Mark Berry
Mark Petersen
Mark Priddy
Michael Crane
Michael Stewart
Nick Loyd
Patrick Oden
Peggy Brown
Phil Wyman
Richard Pool
Rick Meigs
Rob Robinson
Ron Cole
Scott Marshall
Sonja Andrews
Stephen Shields
Steve Hayes
Tim Thompson
Thom Turner


Anonymous said...

"Missional is like pornography. It's hard to define but you know it when you see it."

LOL! That is one sentence that I will remember! Good post.


Anonymous said...

"Missional is like pornography. It's hard to define but you know it when you see it."

The best one-liner I've read today -- and a real truism.

Feral Pastor said...

Jamie & Rick -

Thanks! Glad you liked it. I did have second thoughts but ultimately I just couldn't resist. Almost works as a theme, too, alongside The Red Letter "M" graphic I used. ;)

Anonymous said...

Not certain about the porn reference but I do agree that when you see someone acting missionally you know it.

Yet something bugs about that reference and it's not because you used the word porn. Maybe that it makes being "missional" sound like something you do or experience.

I look at many of the syncrobloggers who talk about "being missional" as being a lifestyle. Yet I think that misses the mark as well.

I have only seen allusions to it in a few posts, but "being missional" is but a trapping of something much bigger. Being missional is the outgrowth or natural results of this key aspect of our christian lives.

That aspect is: Relationship. God calls us to the perfect relationship with him through his grace. (Your radio station metaphor works here.) We can only approach to enter into this relationship because of the death and resurrection of Jesus. We are to share in this perfect relationship of the Trinity by taking Jesus's place by walking in his example.

If we are in relationship truly, then we are other centered. You can maintain a relationship if you are only thinking of yourself. If you do, you will be no more than an acquaintance and it won't be very deep. So being missional stems from us embracing relationship with God and our extension of this to those around us.

So who is our neighbor? I think the Good Samaritan answers that question as does the parable of the Sheep and the Goats. The biggest misconception I see is that people don't realize who we are called to relationship with. The answer is everyone we meet. Most of us stop way shy of that.

So I follow along in the example of St. Francis of Assisi who said, "Spread the Good News whereever you go, and if necessary use words.".

Feral Pastor said...

Thanks for that nice addition to the discussion, Brett. I think you're right about mission being in a sense an effect that we can trace back to a prime cause in our relationship with God through Jesus. "We love because He first loved us" come to mind here.

I also like your comments on relationship as being "other centered" and "missional" stemming from "our extension of this to those around us." That resonates with one of my prime metaphors - that humans are designed to be like L-shaped pipes. We connect "above" to God, from whom we receive all good things which then "flow" through us out to the neighbor. For me, the pipe metaphor integrates both the receiving and the "extension" aspects of how God's love flows to us and through us as one movement. If you want more on that metaphor you can find it here.



Anonymous said...

Thanks for participating in the missional synchroblog. It was through your blog that I came upon it. I have thoroughly enjoyed the conversation so far and have a much more fleshed out understanding of the term "missional" now. As a person only beginning to emerge, I am discovering that a lot of churches and christians believe that ministry and missional are the same thing. Ofcourse, ministry can be missional but my experience is that so many times it is more like a project. The sense that I am getting is that missional is much more relationship based, more personal, more beautiful and meaningful and eternal. It is much more than a "project". It is more about friends and families that we laugh with, cry with, love with, dream with, struggle with, do life with.

Anonymous said...

you are right that the word missional is overused or even misused. it seems to be the new buzz word in church culture.

i say we all need to kick it up and stop talking about missional and all. we need to just be missional. live it. breathe it. be others focused! it is all about phil. 2!

Dan said...

God of Heaven, Holy is your name. Let your Kingdom come and your will be done here on earth as it is in Heaven. Give us sufficiency for today and forgive our sins as we go forth and forgive the sins of others. Help keep us from temptation and out of the clutches of evil. For the Kingdom, the Power and the Glory belong to you alone and forever. Amen!!

Try this one for the Lord's prayer. I am trying it tonight for our first new emergant worship

Pastor Dan