For the conference on RISK (FLINCH Conference), my friend and team leader John Ward & I were asked to lead a workshop on how missions and missional relate.
Here is the workshop description:
The new word missional is now everywhere in Christian-ese. The word missions has been around for centuries. These two words often create very different ministry targets. You are invited to a lively debate highlighting the strengths and weaknesses of polarizing missional and missions.
Unfortunately, this session wasn’t recorded, but I have posted the powerpoint for you to see the direction we headed with this workshop. Below is an outline with the major items of discussion:
The first exercise we had the group do was to take 5 minutes and do their best to define the two words: Missional & Missions.
I’d invite you to take a few moments and take a stab too!
Here is where John and I landed for our definitions:
The Word missional is simply the adjective form of the noun missionary, and like any adjective it is used to modify a noun.*
Missions is to move towards or go to those different than us –culturally, socially, ethnically, economically– by crossing over those barriers and sharing the gospel with the compassion and love of Jesus.
Another exercise for the group was to ask this question: Does the church have a mission or does the mission have a church?
We realize it is a “both/and” answer. Yet thinking about our God being a missional/sending God reframes our orientation to see mission as bigger than merely a “job” of the church, but to see mission as part of the very character of our God.
Along this line, we shared the following quote:
“Our task as His people is to discern what God is doing and join with Him. It is not so much that the church has a mission but that the mission has a church.”
– Alan Hirsch (The Permanent Revolution, p. 148)
Don’t we need to be reaching out in my neighborhood before we go to the rest of the globe?
The tension of Global mission and Local mission is a one that everyone sensitive to the mission of Jesus feels at a gut level.
In China, the country with the most Christians on the planet–87 million– hasn’t really made a dent in the total population of 1.3 BILLION people!** So we are delighted that there is great progress of the Gospel, but there are millions (a billion!) more people to reach!
Even here in the USA where there are approximately 84 million evangelical Christians, a much higher percentage than China, yet we still have 234 million people to reach!** So do we need more disciples, leaders and churches in China and the USA? Absolutely! We need to take serious the opportunity to reach those in our community who don’t know our Jesus yet!
At the same time, we must know about the plight of billions of people outside of the easy reach of the Gospel. Billions of people on our globe don’t have a Bible, Body of Christ or even a Believer in Jesus in their lifepath! We must be informed about this reality!
To close our time we watched the following CONVICTING video–You Should Know:
We hope that sharing this outline of our workshop has been helpful to you! If you would like to chat with John or myself, please reach out to us via email at the links on our names above!
Seed article for this Workshop:
Missions vs. Missional? Why We Really Need Both by Ed Stetzer
Online debate about that article:
Make sure to check out the video in that article:
Other Resources on the Topic:
Seamless Garment of Christian Mission: http://www.desiringgod.org/articles/the-seamless-garment-of-christian-mission
Leadership Network article Defining Missional by Alan Hirsch: http://www.christianitytoday.com/le/2008/fall/17.20.html
Ed Stetzer on why Missional Churches don’t do Global Missions: http://www.christianitytoday.com/edstetzer/2009/september/five-reasons- missional-churches-dont-do-global-missions.html
*”History of the Missional Church” by Brad Brisco:
Four Reasons We Should Be Passionate About the Nations by Matt Carter: http://ow.ly/PUEd5
Institute of International Education. (2014). Open Doors Report on International Educational Exchange. Retrieved from
Video: You Should Know https://vimeo.com/32125879
Joshua Project: Research on Unreached People Groups – http://joshuaproject.net/
**Data via the Joshua Project. Retrieved from http://JoshuaProject.net on July 9, 2015