Posts Tagged ‘Introducing the Missional Church’

Book Review: Introducing the Missional Church

Friday, February 19th, 2010

I’ve been blogging on things missional for almost five years. Yet it’s often hard to get a firm grip on the paradigm and many questions still surround it. Questions like: What does a missional church look like? What exactly is the missional church model? How does it function? Can our old existing church become one?

These are some of the questions Scott Boren and Alan Roxburgh endeavor to answer in their book Introducing the Missional Church: What It Is, Why It Matters, How to Become One (Baker Books, November 2009, available in paper or Kindle).

I particularly liked the chapter titled “Not All Who Wander Are Lost” where the authors caution us to beware of formulas and models that can be copied and emulated. Instead they say “…we need to see ourselves being called out of the comfort and security of attractional church life onto a journey like Abram leaving Ur of the Chaldees; we are moving into a strange land without maps to guide us on our way to a land God will show us. We are like those early Christians after the church at Antioch was birthed by the Spirit. We know something has shifted, but no one has the formula; it’s confusing and filled with friction as we try to figure out the next steps.”

They dispute three perspectives in this chapter:

1. They challenge the elevation of any model, formula, or blueprint as the way to do church.

2. They challenge the argument that the Bible reveals a secret missional blueprint that will provide us with a magic pill for entering missional life.

3. They challenge the idea that there is some point in the history of the church that provides us with just the right pattern for creating missional churches.

The common thread through the book is that we are on a journey, we are wanders who need to “develop skills of reading the winds of the Spirit, testing the waters of the culture, and running with the currents of God’s call.”

“There isn’t one specific form, predictable pattern, or predetermined model. On these new waters we become pioneers who are creating new maps shaped in, with, and for the contexts and communities into which we have been called. Here we will learn to experiment and test ideas. Some will work; others will fail. Through trial and error we will imagine new ways of being Jesus’ people.”

There is also a great deal of practical assistance in the book for those existing churches who want to make this journey. Forty percent of the book is devoted to a missional change process that includes five phases: awareness, understanding, evaluation, experimentation, and commitment.

This table from the book will give you a feel for the process.

Introducing the Missional Church is highly recommended for those who want to begin or extend their “journey of entering into the missional river of mystery, memory, and mission.”

Further Reading

Brad Boydston or Scot McKnight.

Disclosure: I purchased this book with my own funds.

The Missional Conversation Misused

Thursday, January 14th, 2010

In many cases missional is misunderstood to be simply a new language to describe things church leaders have already been saying and the church has been doing for quite a while. This makes people suspicious of missional language, causing them to assume it’s just another trendy word. So even with clear and precise definitions, we are still seeing the missional conversation misused and turned into new language for existing forms of church. This can result in people investing lots of energy into missional models only to be disappointed not too far down the road because they have been taken on a path that holds little promise of joining with the Spirit who makes all things new. —Alan J. Roxburgh and M. Scott Boren, “Introducing the Missional Church,” Baker Books, 2009, page 34.

A Missional Imagination

Thursday, January 7th, 2010

A missional imagination is not about the church; it’s not about how to make the church better, how to get more people to come to church, or how to turn a dying church around. It’s not about getting the church back to cultural respectability in a time when it has been marginalized…. This [missional] imagination turns most of our church practices on their head. It invites us to turn towards our neighborhoods and communities, listening first to what is happening among people and learning to ask different questions about what God is up to in the neighborhood. Rather than the primary question being, ‘How do we attract people to what we are doing?’ it becomes, ‘What is God up to in this neighborhood?’ and “What are the ways we need to change in order to engage the people in our community who no longer consider church a part of their lives?’ This is what a missional imagination is about. —Alan J. Roxburgh and M. Scott Boren, “Introducing the Missional Church,” Baker Books, 2009, page 20.