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“Surely the Lord is in this place!” Gen. 28:16

Academy for Missional  Preaching
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Theological understandings of the Missional Church

A Missional Church ...

  • Proclaims in words and deeds and ways of being in the world that Jesus Christ is Lord of God’s New Reality of shalom, which God is working to bring about through Christ and inviting us to participate in through the Holy Spirit.
  • Is a group of followers of Jesus Christ who offer themselves to God’s mission of redeeming and blessing the world, however that needs to occur in specific incarnate circumstances with unique individuals and social systems, as discerned through Holy Spirit.
  • Knows God to be a sending God of love and justice who wants to extend those blessings to all of creation.
  • Looks for the Holy Spirit at work in the world, not apart from it.
  • Sees the culture as a mission field.
  • Emphasizes discerning God’s will in particular situations.
  • Seeks to know God and to walk in the divine Way as learned through the Bible.
  • Sees the Bible as God’s Word for us and listens for the living Christ who is still speaking in analogous ways today.
  • Is nonbeliever friendly, which means it’s nonjudgmental, doesn't use jargon and is hospitable to the other as uniquely other.
  • Meets people where they are to help them encounter the living Lord.
  • Gospels in everyday language and actions.
  • Understands the multifaceted dimensionality of God’s good news in Jesus Christ that accommodates to our needs.
  • Doesn’t separate the church from the world into “us and them” categories but sees all people as co-journeyers on the planet who share an innate spiritual longing for God as well as the common self-deception of sin.
  • Understands and respects those who don’t believe and the problems they have with the institutional church, while at the same time encourages people to join us along the Way of Christ.
  • Holds the mandate to tell others the good news together with the call to do social justice as the same mission of God.
  • Isn’t moribund in human rules but is responsive to emergent situations that are discerned to be calls of Christ through the Holy Spirit.
  • Intentionally invites others into God’s Way of Life in Christ.
  • Is honest about the demands of God’s Way as it seeks to create disciples, not just members of the institutional church.
  • Comes and goes to and from worship of God as God.
  • Empowers all people to use their gifts for God’s purposes in the church and the world.
  • Looks more like a New Testament church than an established Christendom church (and understands what this means).
  • Is intentional about following God’s Spirit wherever it leads as believers of Jesus Christ.

Alan Roxburgh and M. Scott Boren remind us that a missional church follows the fluid happening of God in the world and thus defies definition or strict categorical characteristics. Instead, it “invites us onto a journey in which we discover the world God is creating.” It is more like life lived “on a wide, wild river” that “has been shaped by the confluence of three powerful currents”:

1 - Mystery
2 - Memory
3 - Mission[1]

These characteristics are derived from the Reformed tradition’s understanding of what the church is based on certain theological concepts.


[1] Alan Roxburgh and M. Scott Boren, Introducing the Missional Church: What It Is, Why It Matters, How to Become One (Grand Rapids, Mich.: Baker Books, 2009), p. 39.

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