Paul writes - I’m reading two Alan Roxburgh books side-by-side at the moment – The Sky is Falling: Leaders Lost in Transition and The Missional Leader. They compliment each other wonderfully, the latter helping me imagine and “see” the practicalities of leading a church into its missional identity, surely the heartbeat of its existence.
Phil McCredden over on the other side of the Tasman Sea is reading The Missional Leader and notes Roxburgh (and Romanuk’s) definition of “missional church.” It’s a good one, so rather than me re-typing it I’ve copied and pasted with due thanks to Phil (you can read his post here)
“The question is familiar: “What do you mean by missional church?” Even though the term is now used everywhere, there is still confusion about it. As we begin this book, here is a brief description of what we mean by the phrase.
God is about a big purpose in and for the whole of creation. The church has been called into life to be both the means of this mission and a foretaste of where God is inviting all creation to go. Just as its Lord is a mission-shaped God, so the community of God’s people exists, not for themselves but for the sake of the work. Mission is therefore not a program or project some people in the Church do from time to time (as in “mission trip”, “mission budget” and so on); the church’s very nature is to be God’s missionary people. We use the word missional to mark this big difference. Mission is not about a project or a budget or a one-off event somewhere; it’s not even about a sending missionaries. A missional church is a community of God’s people who live into the imagination that they are, by their very nature, God’s missionary people living as a demonstration of what God plans to do in and for all of creation in Jesus Christ.”
The emphasis is mine because this lies at the very heart of what it means to be the people of God reconstituted around Jesus Christ – it’s our raison pour être. So often “mission”, as Roxburgh & Romanuk note, gets pushed to the edges of congregational life (e.g. mission trip, mission committee, mission focus for a month) or reduced to simply “evangelism.”