Chris Wright, who spoke right after me at yesterdays Anglican conference in Cape Town, hinted at the redundancy of the word "missional". He recounted a friend who told him that saying "missional church" is like saying "female woman". Or in other words, every church should be missional. It is not an option. You cannot have a church that is not committed to mission.
Chris also shared some of the history of Lausanne, in particular the somewhat dualist nature of the famed 1974 event in the city of Lausanne, Switzerland, where "holistic mission" was a small interest group. Back then, there was a tension between the balancing demands of evangelistic activity and social action. Today, such a tension is hardly noticeable. Holistic mission involves both elements of practical compassionate social response, and backed up with a clear explanation of the good news of Jesus.
Chris is the author of the large but worth book The Mission of God that I purchased and really appreciated. His new book will be shorter and will focus on the role of the missional community. Its called The Mission of God's People and I had dinner with the editor this evening.
Previously on TSK: Chris Wright on the Mission of God and postmodernism.
Thanks for this, TSK.
If not being committed to mission renders it less than church (with which I would agree) – what should we call it, I wonder?
agree and disagree. This is certainly true of how God pictures the Church – we must be living out his mission to TRULY be us. And yet we don’t – and we are still the church, like it or not.
Couldn’t you similarly say “person in relationship with God” is redundant? To be fully alive is to be in relationship with God. of course, tell that to all the people who aren’t – you aren’t actually human!
I get Chris’ point – and agree – but sometimes our clever statements like this get a lot of press (noticed a lot of retweets of this one) without actually causing us to take a look at their implications. This one is way to important to stop at the soundbyte.
If saying “missional church” is like saying “female woman” then so is saying “holistic mission”
But just as we needed prophetic voices to remind us that mission is holistic in 1974, so today we need prophetic voices to remind us that church is missional.
I would love to see the day when the word missional is not so much redundant as unnecessary in the term “missional church”…but I don’t believe that is where we are. I’d hate to see the prophetic voice – which calls us back to what we ought to be as much as forward to what we will be – told to be quiet on the grounds that we shouldn’t need to be called back…