Missional Christians

Eleven different ways of experiencing Christianity—Part 7

There are many ways of seeing yourself as a Christian. You can add another way as your faith grows; you can have more than one at a time and move through them over time.

I am going to look at this through Advent this year. None of them is wrong when taken in context with the others; all of them are wrong on their own. The list is not exhaustive.

A globe showing mostly the Indian Ocean
Free image from Wikimedia

A plan of action you have in the world

Missional is one of those words which 25 yearsago I never heard and now see churches using a lot, it has a very short history, only going back to the late 1980 but did not become widespread in use until later. There is confusion over the term missional. There are two schools of thought about what it means.

Simply it is a missionary emphasis on being obedient to the great commission, “Go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.” It is used to mean evangelising or proselyting.

Alternatively it is a tern used in the emerging church movement and means taking a holistic view of mission. Unfortunately holistic is another recent buzz word that has recently sprung up. Generally it means a view of mission that includes both evangelism and social responsibility.

The Church of England’s document, Five Marks of Mission, adopted by the General Synod in 1996,is a good example of this second meaning and is often shortened to five words:

TELL
To proclaim the Good News of the Kingdom.

TEACH
To teach, baptise and nurture new believers.

TEND
To respond to human need by loving service.

TRANSFORM
To seek to transform unjust structures of society, to challenge violence of every kind and to pursue peace and reconciliation.

TREASURE
To strive to safeguard the integrity of creation and sustain and renew the life of the earth.

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The old choice between social action and evangelism is not recognised by missional Christians of the second kind. They would say that the Great Commission itself must be understood to include social as well as evangelistic responsibility and is at the very heart of mission, but other Evangelical churches who believe in the importance of social action would qualify a statement like that so that evangelism is primary and the mandate to go into the world becomes twofold instead of singular.

I am trying not to make judgement here, I am talking on different ways that people are Christians.

It’s all about Jesus

Christianity is all about Jesus Christ, that’s where the name comes from. Jesus put love of other people up there along with love of God. At least that’s my take, other people take him saying second to meaning it is secondary to love of God. I disagree, but this is a centuries old debate.

The mission of the church is a continuation of the mission of Jesus whose mission statement was to quote from Isaiah:

The Spirit of the Lord GOD is upon me,
         Because the LORD has anointed me
         To bring good news to the afflicted;
         He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted,
         To proclaim liberty to captives
         And freedom to prisoners;

2To proclaim the favorable year of the LORD

Isiah 61:1-2a

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