<font face=courier>-----Original Message-----
From: [[url=mailto:email@example.com]firstname.lastname@example.org[/url]] On Behalf of John Waddey
Sent: Saturday, August 18, 2007 1:30 PM
Subject: [fortify_your_faith] A Lesson to Fortify Your Faith - 08/18/07</font>
COME LET US BUILD US A MISSIONAL CHURCH
<font color=black face=arial>Dear Friends of Christ:
Today's lesson addresses a concept commonly heard among the promoters of change. Just what do they mean when they speak of being a "missional church"? Have you observed how a bad product or thing can be made to look respectable by the use of deceptive terminology? These are terms we need to understand if we are to save the church from those who would harm her. Please share this lesson with other brothers and sisters in Christ.
- <font size=5>COME LET US BUILD US A MISSIONAL CHURCH</font>
<font color=indigo size=3 face=times new roman> The sophisticated philosophers of Athens "spent their time in nothing else, but either to tell or to hear some new thing" (Acts 17:21). A similar state of mind prevails in some preachers and teachers of God's Word. A church, a faith or worship that is upwards of 2,000 years old cannot satisfy their postmodern hearts and minds. They yearn for a new kind of church, new worship and new doctrine, more pleasing to them. Even the vocabulary of the Bible and traditional Christianity is far too narrow for those with this neurosis. They must find new words to express their new faith. The latest fad among these folks is the quest for a "missional church."
Just what is a missional church? Jason Zahariades defines "A missional community is a group of Jesus' apprentices who so trust his brilliance and mastery of life, that they learn from him how to be like him for the sake of the world." He goes on to say, "In a missional community, the church is God's sent people. That means when everything is stripped away...the people are the church and the church is the people" (What is a Missional Community?)
If from this we strip away the peculiar terminology of this new movement it says, "A Christian community is a band of Jesus' disciples who believe in and trust him and wish to become like him so they can serve the world on his behalf." Again it says a true church of Christ is an evangelistic body of Christians. They understand that to be his disciples we must go into all the world with the gospel to save lost humanity. With this message we have no quarrel. It is that we have always believed and taught. But this is just the logo on the package. It is what is inside that we question.
Ken Hammond, in Characteristics of a Missional Church, sees the missional movement as "an emerging community rising or breaking away from Christendom...Some are calling this the second reformation. I call it a revolution." Such a reformation is no doubt needed for the staid, stale denominational bodies that have long since lost their faith and abandoned their heavenly mission. Likewise it would be of some value to those churches of Christ that have lost their faith in the authority of God's Word, corrupted their worship and abandoned their sacred mission. The problem is, it is not a back to the Bible reformation, it is an adaptation to and embracing of postmodernism.
Hammond shows that the missional concept is really the union of postmodernism with Christianity. ""...the missional church is (on a ) journey with a postmodern culture that says "which god?." "Postmodernists recognize the world has changed and that you have to adapt and flow with what's happening. It's about niche needs in a cosmic growing world" (Hammond). "Postmodern preachers don't populate the pews; they connect people to the living Christ. Postmodern evangelism doesn't say to the world, 'come to church.' ...It is not I have Jesus and you don't. How can I get you here so that I can give you my Jesus? But rather you already know Jesus. How can I help you see and know what you already know..."
Hammond says, "The missional church is normally messy, unpredictable and creative in its content and presentation." This is his perspective from inside the missional camp. Such a situation describes a church that has lost its way and is trying to travel without the guidance of God's Word. This sounds more like the situation the Corinthian church fell into. Paul reminded them that all things should be done decently and in order (I Cor. 14:40) because God is not a God of confusion (I Cor. 14:33).
A missional church "requires leadership from within the community rather than from above it." (Zahariades). By this they mean a congregation in which leaders have no authority save the will of the flock. Leaders (elders and preachers) demonstrate this "by yielding to community members as Christ ministers through them." (Ibid). To the missional mind the sacred writer had it all wrong when he said, "Obey them that have the rule over you, and submit to them: for they watch in behalf of your souls" (Heb.13:17). To them it is not a matter of what saith the Lord, but what do we think and want? This aspect of the missional concept is especially appealing to immature young adults who resent leadership from those older and wiser than themselves.
In the missional world "the popular model of pastor as CEO is brain dead...This philosophy will only hurt the church in the long run" (Ibid). "A missional church is not a place where "professionals" are hired to do all the work of the church." (Friend of Missional blog). "The missional church believes in the priesthood of all believers..." (Ken Hammond. Characteristics of the Missional Church). Since our promoters of change are strong on senior ministers with support staff, these observations by professional missionalists make it clear that churches employing senior ministers with a large support staff are not genuine missional churches.
A missional church eschews "marketing, promotion, advertising, consumerism and selfish materialism" (Zahariades). Missional is "not about big programs and organizations to accomplish God's missionary purpose" (Friends of Missional). This tells us that the typical congregation caught up in the change movement cannot be missional for they depend on the marketing, promotion, advertising, consumerism and big programs and organization to reach their goals.
Alan Hirsch writes, "the word 'missional,' ...was quickly co-opted by those wishing to find new and trendy tags for what they themselves were doing, be they missional or not." Me thinks he has correctly tagged our brethren who are proclaiming themselves to be missional churches! It is highly regarded by their denominational neighbors, and most of their brethren haven't a clew what it stands for</font>
<font color=black face=arial>* Jason Zahariades: www.theofframp.org/missional_comm.html
* Ken Hammond, John Mark Ministries
* Friend of Missional Blog by the Blind Beggar</font>
John Waddey, Editor
Christianity: Then and Now