Healing Power

Running commentary on how Jesus' Healing Power is affecting my life - and helping me to help others.

Saturday, August 02, 2008

Response to Missional? When?

My friend and pastor, Sean Palmer, has a great vlog (that's video blog and blog is short for web log so I guess vlog is short for video web log). It regards the "Missional Church". In it, he asks us to define a "Missional Church". My answer got too long for a comment, so I'm posting it here. And it got even longer once I posted it here...

A "missional church" (all one phrase) is not an easy thing to answer. I tend to think about it on a global scale rather than an individual scale. Forget about the local institution and focus on the universal church.

Missional means spreading Christ's word. Pure and simple. Not necessarily evangelical, but giving people what they need physically and spiritually. How can an institution do that? Star of Hope. Boy and Girl Scouts (those are in alphabetical order - not picking favorites). Food pantry. Prison. Clinic.

The question becomes less about "What can I do," and more about "How did Jesus do it?" Jesus was at the places where people needed Him. He hung out with tax collectors and sinners. Perhaps in our day He'd be hanging out at the rock concerts and nightclubs. Whether He participated or not is answered by 2 Cor. 5:21 - that He knew no sin.

So, to be missional, the church needs to be in places it really doesn't want to be. Montrose. Sixth Street. San Francisco. Vegas. The church - and that means its people - need to be out in their unchurched world and living the life.

  • Be a friend to a flaming homosexual without endorsing - or condemning - their lifestyle.
  • Be a friend to the alcoholic without endorsing - or condemning - their lifestyle.
  • Be a friend to the Buddhist, Muslim, Hindu or other non-Christian without endorsing - or ridiculing - their choice.
Once you establish the friendships, as Jesus had, you can see lives change. You can see them healed.

I think singer Todd Agnew hit the nail on the head in his song "My Jesus":

(Note: This video is not by Todd Agnew)

How does one become missional? One simply looks past the lifestyle, the dirt, the corruption, the addiction, the crime... and finds a soul to love. That's what Jesus did. I know it's hard. The last place I want to be is in a place where everybody around me is living a life I consider to be repugnant - a place like a homosexual community. But that's where My Jesus would be. He wouldn't participate, but He would definitely show the love.

So, in a nutshell, WWJD is being missional. Go there. Do that. Get the T-Shirt. Remember - it's not just about the poor. There are probably more wealthy unchurched than poor. It's about sinners. It's about you and me.

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  • At 8:22 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…


    Thanks for thinking about what it means to be missional. It is complex and sticky and sometimes just a flat out tangle. I've been involved in the conversation/education of missional ecclesiology for over 5 years and still feel as if I'm just at the beginning of my learnings.

    Some thoughts on what you've written:

    1. Personal relationships are important, but a large part of Jesus ministry was proclamation. The best illustration I've heard of this is Lincoln's "Emancipation Proclamation." Imagine being a slave (which we are), and someone coming along side you at the height of the Civil War and opting to be your friend, get to know you and in a couple of years mentioning that, "Hey, you're free!" "What do you mean?" you might say."Why didn't you tell me sooner?" you would add?
    Our problem has been that our proclamation has been name-calling, labeling, our own self-righteousness etc...rather than the good news of freedom Jesus announced. Luke 4 is not simple a missional description of Jesus life, though it certainly is that. It is also the proclamation. Interestingly, Jesus did this at the beginning of his ministry. We have good news to proclaim, and Jesus' proclamation is life-giving, my friendship always isn't. We need both, and we need the discernment to not only use both, but become both. As Jesus teaches His disciple, "First, say peace to this house."

    2. Second, being missional asks us to make room for the Other. Look throughout the scriptures, tremendous attention is given to the people "not like us." Even those whose lifestyles we might otherwise find undesirable. Over time, missional thinking retrains the way we see the Other. No one then is "different," no lifestyle too abhorrent. All people are God's creation. A good way to think about this may be that missional is not an activity but a way of "facing," "orienting" or "being." It is something we become.

    Enough for now, I'm getting in to future blogs.


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