04 August 2009

More on Missional

the-sower-vincent-van-gogh-300x234I recently came across this quote by Ed Stetzer. I think it is telling for the body of Christ today.

Missions historian Stephen Neil expresses the concern that when churches focus on societal transformation, and particularly when they call it missions, then “everything” is mission. Neil explained, “when everything is mission, nothing is mission.” Those words were prophetic: he spoke those words to a movement that progressively moved away from church planting and evangelistic missions to a near total focus on social justice.

Moreover, are there historical patterns that further confirm Neil’s concerns? When we look at the history of missions, it is frequent (dare I say common?) that those churches which focus on societal change lose their focus on evangelism and church planting. The most healthy churches engage in evangelism (individual transformation), church planting (collective transformation), and societal impact (cultural transformation). And one tends to lead to the others. The best societal impact occurs when it is a reflection of individual and collective, gospel transformation.

When I am told that their church is missional, or they are “being sent,” what I see and hear don’t always align.

Besides losing our focus on evangelism and transformation, our mission ventures run the danger of becoming a project.

Food for thought.

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