Alan Roxburgh and M. Scott Boren are onto something: in their new book called Introducing the Missional Church: What It Is, Why It Matters, How to Become One (Allelon Missional Series) , they avoid the “define it and then we know it (and can control it)” approach to the term “missional.”
To see what is going on, we need to get inside an idea and gain a new imagination. Definitions aren’t enough — that’s their contention.
They contend the standard set of ideas isn’t enough: “a church that attracts, worships, equips, and then sends” is how “missional church” is often understood. So, they contend the “missional church” is not any of the following eight ideas (though these can be part of the missional church):
1. Not churches that emphasize cross-cultural missions.
2. Not churches that use outreach programs to be externally focused.
3. Not churches in the church growth or church effectiveness movement.
4. Not churches that are effective in evangelism.
5. Not churches that have a clear missional statement with vision and purpose.
6. Not churches that turn churches around to become relevant to the wider culture.
7. Not churches are return to the ancient and primitive ways.
8. Not churches that form new formats for people who don’t like traditional churches.
But definitions are tricky and they have massive influence. In the biblical imagination, definitions are not the norm; the authors don’t define terms. What do you think of this idea? (Is he being a retriever here? That is, are they doing to terms what they refuse to do with how the people of God work?)
Jesus’ term “kingdom” suggests and points but it does not define. Here is their major contention: “Scripture does not so much define reality as invite us onto a journey in which we discover the world God is creating” (39).
The missional journey leads us to the missional river which has three currents:
We’ll look at these three terms next week.