In his role as super spy Ethan Hunt, Tom Cruise portrays an agent willing to face incredible odds and unbelievable danger in order to accomplish a "mission: impossible." Church leaders face assignments just as tough: to lead congregations to serve Christ in a changing and sometimes hostile world.
The word for this ministry challenge is missional. How does a church become missional? And for leaders, is moving a consumer church to become missional, in itself, a mission: impossible?
What "missional" means
When asked, "What kind of church do you serve?" leaders are finding that denominational qualifiers or adjectives such as innovative, emergent, contemporary, liturgical and purpose-driven don't get to the heart of the question; they tend to over-emphasize a particular aspect of the church.
Leaders are (re)discovering that the essential calling of the church has less to do with the way a church is organized, its doctrinal distinctions, or its style of music, and more to do with the missio Dei (mission of God).
UK blogger Andrew Jones explains: "Missio Dei stems from the Triune God: the Father sends the Son, the Father and the Son send the Spirit, the Father and Son and the Spirit send the church into the world." So a missional church is about doing God's work in the world today. In this sense, the missional church isn't a new emphasis, but is a renewed focus on what has been (or should have been) there all along.
Mike Breen, pastor at Community Church of Joy near Phoenix, Arizona, believes the missional church is something very old, very fundamental, and very much at the core of what it means to be church.
"Missional church is radical only in the sense that radical means root," he says. "The missional church is rooted in not just the ...