Explainer: Being Missional

Where did this buzzword come from?

The first time I heard someone use the word "missional" I was confused. I knew about missions and missionaries, but missional? That was a new one for me. Even as I type this post, "missional" is underlined by a jagged red line. Apparently my spellchecker is confused too.

Missional was a term coined by a group of missiologists (another strange word) who were heavily influenced by the missionary and theologian Lesslie Newbigin. Upon retiring as a missionary in South India, Newbigin returned to his native England where he came to a rather depressing conclusion about western culture–it was post-Christian. As a result, he believed that Christians in the West had to start thinking like missionaries, looking for creative and authentic ways to incarnate the gospel in a culture estranged from the principles of God's kingdom.

In many contexts the usage of the term has strayed far from its original meaning. As the term gained popularity, it has been used by just about everybody to mean just about ...

Subscriber access only You have reached the end of this Article Preview

To continue reading, subscribe to Christianity Today magazine. Subscribers have full digital access to CT Pastors articles.

Homepage Subscription Panel
Read These Next
close