Alan Hirsch has a mission himself: to inspire Christians and churches around the globe to become missional. His book, The Forgotten Ways, traces the DNA of missional churches (mDNA). We’ve looked at two of the six ingredients — the centrality of Jesus and a focus on disciple-making — and today we look at #3.
Missional-incarnational impulse. The word “missional” has become the darling for many, and I want to go on record here that I think this term is worth sticking on your desk to remind of what is important.
What is it? Essentially “an outwardly bound movement from one community or individual to another… a genuine missional impulse is a sending rather than attractional one” (129).
Is your church missional? Why or why not? What can we do to create more missional churches? I might ask it this way: How local is your church? Or is it just like the other churches of your denomination that happens to meet in your community? How many ministries do you have at your church that are specific to your community? Have you tried to “apply” things that work elsewhere to your community — work or not?
The attractional model is what he says characterizes Christendom. Success is measured by numerical growth, better programs, and increase in resources — this requires an attractional model. Outreach services and evangelism programs are measured by how many new folks attend church.
A missional model is incarnational. The defining moment of God’s coming to the world is the incarnation — that is how God is missional. That is, missional participates in the missio Dei, the mission of God. It was an act of identification with others, taking up residence among others, and revelation for us. Four elements of Incarnation:
Hirsch contends simply this: God’s missional move is to find its counterpart in our similar incarnational missional move. And he sees a good theme in 1 Cor 9:22-23: “To the weak I became weak, so that I might win the weak. I have become all things to all people, that I might by all means save some. I do it all for the sake of the gospel, so that I may share in its blessings.”
Incarnational ministry means (1) embedding the gospel and (2) deepening the gospel in people groups so they might become God’s people.
Another theme: Christology determines missiology; missiology determines ecclesiology. The Church is an element of missiology.
An example of an incarnational missional model is Third Place Communities. First place: home; second place: work; third place: where we spend time off. So, places like pubs, cafes, sports centers … forming communities in such places is the goal of Third Place Communities.