I’m part of a fascinating church movement, called the Restoration Movement. As with all things, there is both good and bad. Plus, there are things that were meant to be and have been beneficial, but turned out to be negative.
One of these has been our emphasis on “ministry.” Now, of course I’m not against ministry; I do it for a living. But the word “ministry” became twisted over time and the few people that church leaders were able coax into a ministry formed ministries that for the most part just served others in the church. (I have a degree in Youth and Family Minister, which can become the ultimate “serve ourselves” ministry ever created, but that’s another post.)
Anyway, “ministry” became about what we did for each other and the world was left in the rear view mirror.
Luckily, some very thoughful theologians and churchmen and woman began to talk about being “missional.” Here they were aiming to get the church to think about what happens and is happening outside its own walls. Missional is about Christians seeing themselves as missionaries–people sent out with the message of God–rather than seeking the best religious goods and services for themselves.
The difference is best seen by asking the question of whether the church has a mission or does God’s mission have a church? The way you answer that question should transform what the church is and can become.
My wife and I believe deeply in missional ecclesiology, but we were raised in a different church culture and sometimes struggle to live out what we know is a better way. For instance, when Rochelle left The Briarwood Church to stay home with our daughter, her replacement, Jeff, was a new Christian and a member of an intentionally missional community here in Houston, Ecclesia Houston. Jeff began inviting co-workers to his home, out for conversation and other activities. At first Rochelle didn’t fully get what he was doing, but he was being missional. He didn’t know any other way to “do church.” For Jeff, Christianity was about getting to know people and love them the way Jesus would, and being salt and light to them.
And maybe that’s why new churches in America are the ones best able to reach non-Christians. New churches and new Christians aren’t burden with the old Christendom world where it was sufficient to just invite people to church.
What Driscoll points out in this interview is important for the church to understand. Enjoy!