Arguably, Darrell Guder’s book (Missional Church: A Vision for the Sending of the Church in North America (The Gospel and Our Culture Series)) is the most significant book on the church in the last two or three decades. But, as one of the contributors, Alan Roxburgh, observed, the book was good but it was too impractical for pastors and churches. So Alan, along with M. Scott Boren, have done something about it: they have now written an accessible missional church book called Introducing the Missional Church: What It Is, Why It Matters, How to Become One (Allelon Missional Series)
“… a journeying people who were forced to discover again and again what God wanted them to be doing in the world” (15). So we see an initial sketch of what “missional” might look like. That definition, so I believe, cuts into the tendency of so many today to impose an ancient world on a modern world, of the tendency to return to the Bible and live just like then, and of the tendency to read the Bible in order to retrieve a bygone era and reclaim it for our own. No one in the Bible acted like this. In the Bible, the people of God were empowered by the Spirit to strike with the gospel in new ways for new days.
Those first messianic Christians — like Peter — were unprepared for what God was about to do through them: instead of boxing the Pentecost-inspired Spirit-driven new people of God into an old container, God prompted Peter to see that if God grants the same Spirit to the Gentiles, then he was to participate in what God was doing. This event generated what Roxburgh and Boren call the “missional imagination” (17). So they observe: “there is a natural tendency to try to fit the work of the Spirit into old familiar patterns” (17).
They bring back the “attractional” vs. “missional” model idea: “if you build it, they will come” is the attractional model. That is, church is an event and the church provides spiritual goods and going to church is about being spiritual.
But the missional church — here’s a potent line — is not about the church! No, the God of mission is doing something in this world and the church is part of what God is doing. The missional imagination asks “What is God up to in this neighborhood?” But this does not lead the authors to the burn down the church and retrieve the organic origins approach.
Nor is this about creating the “ideal model of the church” and trying to live that out. There is no model; there is Spirit.
They challenged three ideas:
1. That there is one model for the church.
2. That there is a singular, biblical missional model. Journeying into the unknown is there.
3. That there was a time in history when the church got it right and we need to recover it.
Missional folks are wanderers.