I Have No Idea How to do this Missional Thing!
By Rev. Dr. Marty Cauley
Suddenly everyone is talking about being “missional.” The problem is that there seems to be little consensus about what that term actually means. Some view it as just another trend; others simply repackage what they’ve always done with new terms and titles. Others understand being missional as a holistic shift in how they understand church. Meanwhile, those of us working with local churches scratch our head and declare, “I have no idea how to do this missional thing.”
Being “missional” is not a new idea. As a matter of fact, I’m certain that the reason it interests you is that you know it is what the Church has been called to do since its inception. Being missional is essentially an intentional and focused decision to the see the world around you through the eyes of a missionary rather than to view it through the eyes of Christendom. From the earliest days of the Christian movement, people have been living their lives with gospel intentionality, opening their homes to strangers, and breaking bread together in their homes and sharing Eucharist in the larger community. Over and over in Christian history, we see these necessary elements rediscovered, and renewal movements started. The founder of United Methodism, John Wesley organized around the basic three units of bands, class meetings and societies. These missional forms, seeming radical at the time, were really just harkening back to the early church life patterns. Being missional is not a new idea, it is simply remembering what Jesus called us to do, to make disciples.
Being missional is not just for “mega-churches,” and neither is it only for “micro-churches.” Being missional is for any church or group of Christians who want to intentionally live into their calling to fulfill the Great Commission right where they are. I have even seen missional communities comprised of people from various local churches whose unifying purpose was to model real community despite their doctrinal differences and to reach people largely ignored by the local church. Certainly, there are ways you can organize your local congregation in a way that makes living out the missional calling more effective, but the key is to start where you are, maybe with one, small kitchen table sized group (4-8) and pray about where God is leading you.
Lastly, and perhaps most importantly, you can’t do this alone. How many times have you read a book or attended a seminar and returned to your local church filled with inspiration and passion only to have it snuffed out by well-meaning but uninterested members? I want to challenge you to find three to six people who will accompany you on this journey from your local church. Secondly, you need a coach, somebody who will be accessible to you to bounce ideas off of and who will hold you accountable for the goals you set. The office of New Faith Communities can recommend resources, training events, and essential coaching to get you started. Lastly, where possible, involve yourself in a community of leaders of other churches who are also on this journey. The mutual support will prove invaluable when things get tough. Then you will be well on the way to doing this whole “missional thing.”