No one needs to be a soothsayer to divine that the missional movement has gained momentum over the last five to ten years. It's been around a lot longer, but missional is now the catchword for young, cutting-edge, in-the-streets followers of Jesus.
Personally, I am pleased with what's happening. The movement grew out of a realization that the church is not making an impact on the culture in post-Christian, Western countries and something needed to change. From Lesslie Newbigin and David Bosch's early calls to mission to Alan Hirsch and Alan Roxburgh's stylized methods of how to go about it, the momentum to be "on mission" with Christ in the world rather than maintain the institutional church and its programs is now "it."
I have two observations about the movement, of which I consider myself and Legacy Church late adapters.
First, to be truly missional requires adaptive change, not tweaks that make you look missional. You can't add a food drive or a Habitat for Humanity house build to your church calendar to become missional. It requires deep changes to your values and practices. Too many church staff members seek to reflect the latest trends in ministry by adding a new mission project and miss the reality that missional is not an add-on. It's the DNA of who you are and what you do.
Those of you seeking to be missional by adding a project or two to what you are already doing, STOP. Either leave like Matthew or Peter what you are doing and follow Jesus' leadership into the mission field, or get back to what you were doing before you went to the last conference.
Second, missional has a message. My main concern about the missional call to plant yourself in a neighborhood or meet a community or global need is that more is said about the methods than the message. We want to know how rather than get to know the Who of our calling.
The end game of all the deconstruction of church as we know it and the creation of communities of faith in a neighborhood is a changed life that comes through an authentic relationship with Jesus, the Christ; and, that life-change comes through the message of Jesus in a real-life relationship with someone.
We can dig wells, build community centers, and host art festivals, but if there is no message of the Good News of Jesus then our efforts are as empty as the programs we advertise to get people to come onto our campus each weekend.
I love how God is reviving and reforming the church in America again. I don't want us to miss it. But, we cannot leave the message of Christ behind as we chase the enticing new forms of being the people of God in this world.