Posted by: judy | January 6, 2009


missional1Maybe post moderns  just get bored and need to create new words, with important theological implications? Thankfully, there are a few who are trying to document their chaos terminology. I want to understand it, to recognize it, and steer clear of it.

The latest word among post moderns /emergents /emerging (I really don’t know what to call you) is MISSIONAL. Don’t expect to know much more when you finish reading this post than when you started. Brother Maynard at Subversive Influence  {not going to lie, had to look up ‘Subversive’ and now I’m a little scared.} has 8 really LONG posts to summarize the contributions of a Missional Synchroblog (50 bloggers participated) whose goal was to define MISSIONAL (or die trying). Some Missional Synchroblog trivia: over 38,000 total views of the 8 summary posts.

They are all across the board as to what it is  . . .

 . . . and what it isn’t.  If it takes them this long to define it — can’t imagine how long it will take for them to do it. At the very least they will probably make some money publishing a few books explaining their conversations, their missional journeys, along with helpful hints for ways churches communities to implement.

If you are interested in wading through the mire — perhaps bring your dictionary (they use alot of big words), some impressive Latin, and you won’t need your Bible. After skimming the excruciatingly descriptive summary posts, I think I counted 4 Scripture references and a whole lot of Greek think-tank-type names.

This is the summary from the 8th post:


  • the term missional is misused by many who don’t understand it;
  • missional church is not the same as emerging church;
  • simply adding the term doesn’t make it so;
  • missional is a buzz-word only to those who don’t have it in their DNA;
  • “missional” is a theological term with a specific set of theological implications; and
  • missional is not merely a substitute for “missionary”;

Nature & Purpose

  • missional is incarnational;
  • the missio Dei institutes the missiones ecclesiae;
  • the mission is to extend the Kingdom of God;
  • missional sees God’s work as larger than the salvation of the church;
  • missional church is mission-shaped church (church is organized and defined by its mission);


  • individual missional engagement, not just corporate engagement, matters;
  • missional is a paradigm that should be innate to every healthy church;
  • missional builds communitas;
  • missional sees no dichotomy between mission and everyday life;
  • missional rejects the dualistic thinking of seeing a dichotomy between secular and sacred;
  • missional community is covenant community;
  • missional church is made so by the individuals who participate;
  • missional sees the church as a centered set rather than a bounded set;


  • missional church is in the hands of the so-called “laity”;
  • missional engagement thrives in the context of third places;
  • missional engagement takes place within the ordinary, everyday rhythm of life;
  • missional seeks to bring justice to “the other”;
  • missional is contextual, but also at times counter-cultural (contrast society);
  • missional engagement relies on the Holy Spirit;
  • missional seeks new metrics for “success”, over against numerical measures of attendance or adherents as is more common in attractional or institutional churches;
  • missional encounters need not result in gospel proclamation;

Values & Perspectives

  • missional is a way of life;
  • missional church roots itself in history by taking a long view of its engagement;
  • missional church gravitates toward narrative theology and toward the gospels, particularly the Sermon on the Mount;
  • the missional life is likened to that of a pilgrim, an exile, or a vagabond;
  • becoming missional out of traditional requires careful leading through (paradigm) change;
  • missional is inclusive and accepting of others;
  • missional attempts to transcend relegation to a specific era such as pre-modernity, modernity, or post-modernity;

And just when you think you have it figured out — it will morph.



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