Defining missional

A Light to the Nations by Michael Goheen

‘Mission’, ‘missionary’, ‘missional’. I can imagine that if I taught at an art college I’d spend a lot of time asking students, ‘what is art?’. Well, teaching at Redcliffe College, one of only two specifically mission-training colleges in the UK, causes me to ask the ‘mission’ question of myself and students on a regular basis.

I’ve been reading Michael Goheen‘s new book, A Light to the Nations: The Missional Church and the Biblical Story. Here’s how he

approaches the term ‘missional’:

The employment of the term “missional” includes the superficial along with the profound, the culturally captive alongside the richly biblical. But the popularity of “missional” language suggests that something has struck a chord with many Christians…

At its best, “missional” describes not a special activity of the church but the very essence and identity of the church as it takes up its role in God’s story in the context of its culture and participates in God’s mission to the world. This book is an attempt to describe “mission” as the role and identity of the church in the context of the biblical story.

So, Goheen is saying that whatever activities we may label as ‘missional’ are all secondary and subsidiary to the missional identity of the church in our participation in God’s mission.

What would a missional approach to the Bible look like in your life?

We use the Bible in a variety of ways for a number of different purposes (read Eugene Peterson’s excellent Eat This Book for more on this idea). So how would a specifically missional approach to the Bible impact different areas of the life of the people of God?

I’ve blogged a lot on how a missional approach to the Bible impacts interpreting the Bible in general. But what about when it comes down to the activities you and I are involved in on a day to day basis?

How might a missional approach to the Bible impact how we preach on a Sunday morning?

How might a missional approach to the Bible impact how we study the Bible together at a mid-week home group?

How might a missional approach to the Bible impact how we do evangelism?

How might a missional approach to the Bible impact how we read the Bible devotionally?

How might a missional approach to the Bible impact how and when we go to the Bible when we are wrestling with the frustrations and pain of living in this broken world?

So, what would all this look like? How do you see this approach working its way into your own contexts? Would it make a difference?