Tuesday, September 20, 2011

What's Wrong With The Missional Church?

Tuesdays with Theophilus...

 I was surfing scrolls and parchments the other day and I came across a scroll entitled, Why the Missional Church will Fail. The article was was written by Mike Breen. In his opening paragraph Breen wrote:

It’s time we start being brutally honest about the missional movement that has emerged in the last 10-15 years: Chances are better than not it’s going to fail.

That may seem cynical, but I’m being realistic. There is a reason so many movements in the Western church have failed in the past century: They are a car without an engine. A missional church or a missional community or a missional small group is the new car that everyone is talking about right now, but no matter how beautiful or shiny the vehicle, without an engine, it won’t go anywhere.

 In case you are not familiar with the "missional church" allow moi to explain. The missional church is a movement that decries "church" as outdated or outmoded and advocates personal relationships. Michelle Vu in her article, Missional Church - The Next Big Thing,? writes:

The missional movement, in many ways, is a counter force to the traditional way of “doing” church. Rather than being program-focused, the missional church prides itself on being people-focused.“Missional is a way of living, not an affiliation or activity,” explains missional leadership specialist

Reggie McNeal in his new book, Missional Renaissance: Changing the Scorecard for the Church.

“To think and to live missionally means seeing all life as a way to be engaged with the mission of God in the world.”

 Any movement that fails to subscribe to or incorporate the marching orders for the church delineated in Matthew 28:18-20 will fail. At best movements and churches may limp along with little or no results for all the effort, energy, and enthusiasm it pours into itself.

Discipleship is the duty, the sustenance, and the guaranteed continuation of the church. The problem that has plagued the church particularly in the last 50 years or so is that the church has tried to grow by attraction rather than by addition. Churches have become very adept at developing programs to attract and entice people to join them. True discipleship has fallen on hard times these last several years. 

Discipleship takes time. One must roll up one's sleeves and get right smack dab in the middle of some one's life. Once someone has been made alive by the Spirit of God they need to be "parented" by someone for the next 2 to 3 years. As a result, it is easier to say, "Come, join our church, because we are the friendliest church in town." Or, "we are the fastest growing church, or we have the best children's ministry." Of course this past few years the invitational cry has been, "come check out of worship team or praise band."

Yes, as I sit in my grotto overlooking the Tiber River, awaiting my call to cena, I think the missional church will fail because it has been built on a faulty foundation. I do not think the church can prosper biblically or spiritually without discipleship.

Yours Until Next Time,


What do you think?


Darlene said...

Good post, Theo. I agree that discipleship is very important. But, I also agree with the quote "to think and to live missionally means seeing all life as a way to be engaged with the mission of God in the world." Every aspect of our lives is worship to God, a pleasing sacrifice. "Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God's mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God--this is your spiritual act of worship." Rom. 12:1

I also think that the churches of today have lost their focus on the Christ of the Bible. Too many churches are preaching the Christ of social justice, the Christ of prosperity, the Christ of make my life easy-peasy, and the Christ of let me live my life the way I want to.

We are called to a life of service, sacrifice, and suffering. Many of today's Christians do not want that kind of life.

I will now step off my soapbox. I hope I didn't miss the point you were making.

Brad said...

Completely agree. The Missional Church Movement has taken a valid protest over the Church's apathy and indifference to the poor and suffering, and has turned it into just another church program where humanitarian causes are hard sought after (though with other people's time and money) with no trace of Jesus. Ironically, missional folks have taken a church largely dead to faith and works and have then just added in works.

welcome to my world of poetry said...

This is one I will have to re-read to think out what I think. It was very interesting and issues were raised. Must get the old grey cells working.

Have a good day

Persis said...


Perhaps it's a matter of hearing and obeying scripture rather than coming up with new buzzwords. "If you love me, keep my commandments."

Ma said...

For no one can lay a foundation other than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ.

I kind of like the missional church idea, it has the potential to be much more discipling than traditional church where a person can easily get lost in the crowd.

Larri @ Seams Inspired said...

Hmmm...I think it's too late in the day for me to digest this post. Love it, and want to mull it over some more before drawing my conclusion. Thanks for sharing. Happy Tuesday! :)

Mike said...

Why can't it be missionally AND relationally driven? The bible tells us to (1)go and (2)disciple....that looks a lot like (1)mission and (2)discipleship to me.

ReVoLuTiOnArY TeNdEnCiEs said...

If I understand Mike's comment, I think that I am in agreement with his statement. Let me recommend a book by Tim Chester and Steve Timmis (both reformed in their theology) called "Total Church". Here is a review by Trevin Wax. I believe that it will prove helpful in broadening a possible misconception in regards to being missional.
Blessings! :)