The word "missional" has become the new catch phrase in the life of the church. But what does it mean to be a missional church? Aren't all churches missional?
Yes and no.
Yes, all churches are supposed to be missional.
And no, not all churches are. They may have a missional understanding as one of its core beliefs, but its practices, attitudes, and outlook make it loud and clear that their main concern is the maintenance of its existing members.
Before we go any further, lets get a working definition of what missional means.
The word missional has at its root the word mission. Simply put, to be a missional church means that the church understands its being and its purpose to be about the mission of Jesus Christ to reconcile the world to Him. This means that a missional church understands its primary purpose and its purpose for being to be: to grow new Christ-followers, and growing those Christ-followers into faithful disciples of Jesus Christ by teaching them to obey everything God has commanded in the Scriptures.
Rick Rusaw, in his book, The Externally Focused Church, asks the following question. If your church were to shut its doors and cease to exist, would anyone in the community notice? Would anyone care?
If your church were no longer in the community, would anyone weep that the place for which the Son of God died on the cross, descended into hell to rise again so that that place could be the beacon of life and hope for the community no longer exists?
If no one would notice, if no one would care such churches might as well close its doors and cease to exist. Because they are making no difference in their communities.
Jesus says in Matthew 5:16, "Let your light shine before others, so that when they see your good works, they will glorify the Father in heaven."
Where are the good works? The church talks a good talk when it comes to good works, but where is it?
We live in a world where people like Jesus, but they can't stand the church. And it's primarily because the churches are inwardly focused and acts as if it doesn't give a rip about the world that is suffering and hurting. Where is the light? Where is the hope? Where is the transformation? Where is God?
If any other human organization spent as much money and resources as the church of Jesus Christ has for the last thirty years for as little in return for that investment, those organizations all deserve to be bankrupt! They should just shut its doors and stop wasting people's time and money.
But the churches continue because of the faithful giving and support of its members, and because of the lack of vision and purpose by her leaders to teach and shape the people for why the churches exist to begin with, our thousands of churches make no difference in the communities we're in.
And when the church forgets why she exists, the church fights about all kinds of stupid and silly stuff - organ music or guitars and drums, the color of the carpet, who moved the piano?
All those things are the tools to help the church to be about the business of growing new Christ-followers and helping those Christ-followers to become fully devoted disciples of Jesus Christ. And if that's not happening, it doesn't matter whether you play guitars or the organ, or what color the carpet is, or where you move the piano.
It's all about people - hurting people, searching people, lost people, young people, old people - people who desperately need what only Christ-followers can give them. Jesus Christ!
In a missional church, this becomes the single driving force and passion. And a missional church will do everything in its power and do whatever it takes to be as effective as possible to reach others for Christ. That's what it means to be a missional church.
So, get out there. Go! Be about the business of the Kingdom of God - to reconcile sinners to become the children of God.
Do whatever it takes.
Give everything you've got.
The stakes are so incredibly high. What is at stake is the eternal destinies of people.
The church of Jesus Christ has been given everything we need to accomplish this mission.