On the same day the biggest baddest TR blog on the block basically says "missional" is an em-church emperor with no clothes, this post from Kingdom Grace knocks it out of the park.
It's all good, but the punchy part addresses the dilemma (which I admit isn't imaginary) raised by critics. Here it is:
The answer to whether an existing congregation can become missional is dependent on their willingness to change their central purpose.
By co-opting the term and changing its emphasis, churches who do not wish to make such fundamental shifts in their thinking can apply it to a program and say, essentially, “Yes, we’re a missional church.”
-- Brother Maynard
That isn’t missional. You can’t have it both ways.
What will it look like for an organization to shift its focus and purpose to mission instead of the organization and the Sunday service? Are congregations willing to make that degree of change, to pay the full price to become missional?
If not, be straight about what you are, and don’t claim to be what you are not.
But for those who truly want to be missional, realize what you will have to let go of in order to become missional.
Look, I don't know what the missional gurus are saying being missional really is. I've heard they haven't exactly figured it out, and since definitions are about as numerous as definers, I won't be jumping in to say who's in and who's out. I also know that making the shift can be difficult and painstaking, and I have nothing but respect for pastors and churches trying to do a 180 in a cruise ship (to borrow a phrase from a pastor I met with this week), because that's not an instant maneuver.
But I do know this: If missional is to mean anything, if it's to get close to being what we are, deeper and more characteristic than what we do, it will necessarily involve a deep, perhaps painful reformation. A total renovation of how evangelical culture "does church" and who it exists for. The "central purpose" mentioned in the Kingdom Grace piece.
What is at the center? Who is at the center? And whatever your answer, does your local church look like that answer is true?
This stuff is directly related to my unexplained excitement from yesterday.