Moving Towards a Missional/Incarnational Approach

Was invited to participate in a panel last night at a local good size suburban “bible” church that is exploring the missional concept. It was a very enjoyable time and I was excited to see the leadership of a church (and this influential church in particular) on the path of discovery and discernment.

The task of us on the panel was to explore and discuss two issues: 1) the difference between the attractional and missional approach to church and, 2) the complexity and difficulties of being missional in a suburban setting.

We got through issue one and into an issue two question of what particular obstacles do suburban churches experience as they attempt to move toward a missional ecclesiology. Unfortunately, we just didn’t have time to deal with the practical question of how might a church move increasingly towards this kind of missional/incarnational approach.

I would have really liked to get into this last practical question. So not to waste my notes and thoughts on the subject, here are the bullet points from my talking notes:

  • Leaders have to take seriously the Ephesians 4:11-12 mandate to be equippers and spiritual body builders.
  • Discipleship doesn’t equal information, but transformation.
  • The apprenticeship model in discipleship should be explored.
  • Openly and freely celebrate those who are living out the life you want to see replicated.
  • Become a story teller. Story is a powerful tool at illustrating and making the theme clear.

I’d love to hear any additional points you would have made.

Tags: ,

6 Responses to “Moving Towards a Missional/Incarnational Approach”

  1. Jeff says:

    I would add an obbession with defining the character of Christ in suburban life. Something about an intense passion for modeling Jesus’ radical love in the “safe” suburban setting. Imitating his humility, sacrificial love, forgiveness, and acceptance in every relationship. Does that make sense?

  2. Similar to Jeff, I think that we need to specifically look at the transformation you pointed to as being shaped by Christ. Jesus, while God to be worshiped, also needs to centrally be the Lord to be obeyed. We need to understand the example and teaching of Christ, learning to see the implications for what that means for us collectively.

    In other words, we do not become missional by doing missional activity, but rather become missional only insofar as we become, together, like Christ.

  3. Rick Meigs says:

    Jeff and Jamie, excellent thoughts. It is so easy for us to focus on activity and forget that it is really about Christ like transformation. And Jamie, you noted the importance of community which I need to stress more.

  4. Kevin Bobrow says:

    I would make your point about telling stories a sub-point to telling THE story. We must consistently tell the story of Scripture, and allow God’s Word to speak and transform. I think this is one of the main things missing in the attractional/institutional Church. I believe we must become radically dependent on the revelation of Scripture and come to trust the canon we have received, incorporating it into everything we do so it becomes the fabric of our communities…


  5. Rob Robinson says:


    In regard to the complexities of being missional, whether urban or suburban find clarification in Michael Frost’s missional perspectives of proximity, presence, proclamation and powerlessness. Struggling to embody these perspectives will release a good deal of insight to those desiring to be missional in any context.

  6. Rick Meigs says:

    Rob, I love Frost’s four “P” and agree that struggling to embody them will release a good deal of insight. Thanks.