I love the way in which our sixth core value, “Missional Centrality,” is stated. It says,
“We believe in living out the whole of the Great Commission – including evangelism, spiritual formation, compassion, and redemptive justice – in our communities and around the world."
There are a few things that I really like about that value. First of all, I like that there is a recognition that we need to live out the whole of the great commission. For so long there has been a significant divide in the church between sharing the good news with words and expressing the good news with deeds. Those of us in the conservative or evangelical camp have focused primarily on sharing the gospel message so that people come to know Jesus as their Lord and Savior. Proclaiming the good news is obviously an important effort, but often times sharing the gospel has come to the detriment of engaging in acts of mercy and justice.
Those on the progressive side have often focused on living out the gospel in terms of deeds and mercy. They have been involved in feeding hungry people and working for justice in the world. There has often been a hesitation (or even an adverse reaction) to thinking that one needs to receive the work of Jesus for salvation.
Our value indicates a strong need to both share and live the good news of Jesus to the world. We need to be people who represent (or re-present) the kingdom of God on earth. When teaching or talking about missional engagement, I will often ask people to think about the question “If God were to bring His kingdom as it in in heaven to your neighborhood, what might that look like?” The answer is that there would be some tangible differences in terms of people not going hungry, an absence of racial tension, families strengthened, non-believers coming to know Jesus as Lord and Savior, and believers growing in their maturity and identity in Christ. As we look at that list, we see that the kingdom is holistic. We don’t want to sacrifice any part of the good news of Jesus in either word or deed.
The other aspect to this value is the posture we need to take when engaging in these efforts. The word "missional" indicates that we need to maintain a posture of going into the world rather than waiting for the world to come to us. This is perhaps a more difficult aspect of our value to embrace. While the scripture is full of passages that call for us to “GO” into our various contexts, we are used to trying to get people to “COME” to the church, whether that is Sunday morning or a different programmatic event.
We have previously identified this sixth value as one of the 5 core shifts that our churches need to make in moving into a new reality. Fortunately, we have some wonderful tools and resources that will help us make this shift. We have, for example, Jeff Vanderstelt coming to speak at our national gathering. This past year, twenty five of us went through 9 month learning community. One of the sites we visited was Soma in Tacoma, WA where Jeff has planted a church primarily based upon missional communities. Jeff has phenomenal experience and insight into engaging in missional ministry and developing communities that are on mission together. In addition to Jeff’s teaching at the national gathering, we have included many of his training videos on our new ministry website, Flourish. Also, through our discipleship grant, we have the availability to provide coaching for those engaged in the development of missional communities.
My hope and prayer is that as we live into our missional identity, will have an even greater likelihood of developing flourishing churches that make disciples of Jesus.