Missional vs. Missionary?


Intelligent, and intuitive blogger, Josh King, aka Jowiki, asked an interesting question lately. His question was:

How would you define a missional church? Does missional equal biblical?

In thinking about the answer I gave him the following thoughts.

I would say that in my experience being Emergent, or more broadly speaking, Emerging, is limited to a subset within Christianity, particularly as it is reflected in postmoderns. Missional, on the other hand, can be experienced in any church using almost any methodology in any context.

In my opinion, missional is, as Ed Stetzer puts is, the adjectival use of the mission of God. I think the major difference between being missional and having a missions heart/mindset is that one is about being (missional) and the other is about doing.

As I think more about this answer, I am thankful for the renewed emphasis on being missional over and above simply being a missionary. We must recognize that we have missed the boat, in many ways, through the years as we have encouraged others to “be missionaries” or to “do missions”. In fact, if we are authentic believers, we cannot help but be missional in our orientation as it has been integrated into our spiritual dna. We are no longer individuals who have a “Jesus corner” of our lives, we are not people who occasionally work up the nerve to “do missions” but rather we are recreated children of God who, according to the scriptural record, have been remade to be like Christ. That kind of being bleeds into every corner of our doing. As we grasp and teach that kind of biblical truth we will be awed at what God does in and through us.

Micah is a husband to Tracy & a daddy to Grace, Kessed & Haddon. He’s Senior Pastor at Brainerd Baptist Church in Chattanooga, TN. Most of all, he’s a debtor to grace.

3 thoughts on “Missional vs. Missionary?

  1. How can we authentically “be” without “doing”? We cannot really “do” without “being,” though I guess we as the church have ventured out into the mission field, that thing we ought to do–“doing”– and lacked that true conformity to Christ–“being”–which will make us instruments through whom the Holy Spirit will do the work of missions. Without the mind of Christ and His heart for all the lost, we won’t succeed in our missionary endeavors.
    I suppose I’m missing a theological fine line here, though I guess I’m trying to say that such a line is innately arbitrary and artificial to begin with.

  2. Steve-

    I think you may be misunderstanding my point. Let me try to clarify. By “doing” I am referring to our thought that missions is some specific action that we have to prepare for, condition ourselves for and then “do” on occasions when it seems appropriate. This would mean thinking of missions as an action that is done on occasion.

    By “being” I am referring to a constant mindset that is conditioned by Kingdom vision that allows us to simply “be” authentic reflections of Christ in all that we do.

    It seems that we have segregated our lives in the modern American church. We “do” evangelism when the church schedules the visitation time, but when we are playing basketball, or visiting family, or fishing, etc. we don’t “do” evangelism because that’s not the designated time. When we are “being” we are missional at every moment of every day because it’s not an action we schedule but it simply is a part of who we are as missional followers of Jesus Christ. Now by “being” we must be “doing” a series of actions, I’ll grant you, but there is certainly a difference between someone who “does” evangelism and someone who “is” evangelistic, wouldn’t you agree?

  3. Doing anything for the kingdom may be used by God for His glory, truly, but if evangelism is not part of the fabric of our lives, it’s not what God intended our witness to be. I don’t believe God is nearly so interested in what I do; He’s more interested in what I am or am becoming. It just goes way beyond missions. Worship isn’t something we do at designated times; missions isn’t something we only schedule for a certain night of the week; giving isn’t only an envelope dropped with some regularity in an offering plate on Sunday morning. The constant mindset you refer to, the mind of Christ I spoke of, doesn’t allow for convenient compartmentalization of our lives. The lost aren’t going to be reached by someone who works selected times into his schedule for them, and lays on the churchy pious platitudes when the mood strikes him. They will attend when they see a life that is a constant testimony by its willingness to shut up and listen, its compassion, and its unconditional love.
    I don’t speak as some paragon of virtue on any of this. My life is far from what it should be. It isn’t “missional,” if that’s the operative word now, as it should be.

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