What is Missional Living?
What do we mean by “Missional”?
We hear the word “missional” a lot these days. It’s been defined so many ways by so many people – what does it really mean?
Missional living is not complicated, but for many of us, it does involve a paradigm shift. We like to think of it as taking on the posture, thoughts and attitude of a missionary - right here, where we live, work and play - engaging a community and culture that in so many ways stands in contrast to the life of Christ, the ways of God, and the mission of the Church. It means embodying the Gospel in every aspect of life, everywhere we go and in every relationship.
But missional living doesn't start with us. It starts with the mission of God.
The Mission of God
John Stott said this: “Mission arises from the heart of God himself, and is communicated from His heart to ours. Mission is the global outreach of the global people of a global God.”
Jesus’ words in Matthew 28:18-20 and Acts 1:8 compel us to “go out into all the world and make disciples”, as we are His witnesses “to the remotest parts of the earth.” Jesus is “on mission” to glorify Himself by seeking and saving the lost, making disciples and drawing a people to Himself for all eternity, through the local church, worldwide. Jesus’ divine mission is our mission. Christopher Wright says that “God has called into existence a people to participate with God in the accomplishment of that mission. All our mission flows from the prior mission of God.”
God’s mission means “sending” – and He is active in sending His people outward, into a culture that for the most part rejects Him. Thought leader Alan Hirsch describes it as “the outward movement rooted in God’s mission that compels the church to reach a lost world.”
At the very center of this mission is The Gospel. Jesus Christ crucified and risen for the redemption of our sin and transformation of our lives – for His Kingdom purposes, to the glory of His name. For the Christ follower, the good news of the Gospel is the motivation for everything we do - to change us from within, and to have an influence on our culture. Nothing is more important than the Gospel of Christ, proclaimed everywhere possible by living it out daily, in the power of the Holy Spirit, and demonstrated in tangible ways. Pastor and author Tim Keller says that "Belief in the gospel is not just the way to enter the kingdom of God; it is the way to address every obstacle and grow in every aspect. The gospel is not just the “ABCs” but the “A-to-Z” of the Christian life."
As we increasingly take on the posture and heart of a missionary in our culture, we will find the impulse of missional living beginning to more naturally influence everything we think, feel and do – empowered by the Gospel. The purpose has always been what we find at the core of the Great Commission (Matt. 28) – making and multiplying disciples who are following Jesus in every area of life. Evangelism is important, but its not at the core of the Great Commission – making disciples is.
I’ll leave you with this quote from Kevin DeYoung and Greg Gilbert from their book What is the Mission of The Church – because it points us all in the right direction as we consider how personal mission relates to the mission of the church.
“The mission of the church is to go into the world and make disciples by declaring the gospel of Jesus Christ in the power of the Spirit and gathering these disciples into churches, that they might worship the Lord and obey his commands now and in eternity to the glory of God the Father.”
May we be faithful to the mission.
John Stott, The Contemporary Christian: An Urgent Plea for Double Listening (Leicester: IVP, 1992), 335.
Christopher Wright, The Mission of God’s People (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2010), 24.
Timothy Keller, Paul's Letter to the Galatians: Living in Line with the Truth of the Gospel (New York City: Redeemer Presbyterian Church, 2003), 2.
Kevin DeYoung and Greg Gilbert, What is the Mission of the Church? (Wheaton: Crossway, 2011), 62.