How to be a Missional Church

Kent Shaffer —  February 2, 2010

In a couple of days, I will be live blogging from the sold out Verge Conference (Austin, TX). Its focus is the missional church. What does missional mean? How can you be a missional church? These and many more questions will be discussed. But before the conference begins, I want to start a conversation here with you by asking:

How do you think a church can be missional?

When I hear this question, one of my first thoughts is, “Aren’t all churches missional?” Unfortunately, I know they answer is “no.” Unquestionably, churches should be on mission to go outside their walls and preach the gospel, disciple believers, and love on people. Sometimes though, churches turn inward focused. Sometimes though, churches become shy about being missional.

I think one of the biggest steps to being a missional church is making missional a part of your DNA. It starts with the leaders. You have to live it and emphasize it with your words. Don’t ever stop. You have to protect it to guard your church from becoming apathetical and self-centered. It starts with the leaders, but it must spread to the church community. The church as a whole must live it.

But I want to know what you think… How do you think a church can be missional?

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Kent Shaffer

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I live in an RV with my wife and 2 kids and work with OpenChurch.com to help Christians collaborate and build a global Church library of free, open content.

4 responses to How to be a Missional Church

  1. This is a great question. Here are a few things that come to mind.

    1) I was talking to a pastor recently. He thought it would be great to do serving activities. Get a bunch of members to come to the church to serve. It didn’t cross his mind to go out and serve. This is something churches all to often fail to do. Go outside the church walls, into the community, and serve people.

    2) I was always told non-verbal communication is 90% of communication. I was also told you should listen twice as much as you talk. That mean sharing the gospel verbally though me talking is 3% of me communicating with others. The rest other intangibles. As a church we are great at telling people what we think. It’s the other 97% we need to work on.

    3) This one is harder. To serve people, we need to know their needs and how to communicate with them. If church people are always around each other how will they know the needs of the people they are trying to reach? If church people are just around each other how will they know the cultural context of others to communicate with them? How will they be able to communicate in the vernacular?

    To be missional the church needs to be out in the world with the people they are trying to reach.

    4) Leadership is more than preaching from the pulpit. Leaders need to show others how to do these things, cheer them on, and mentor others. There need to be people living missionally and leading others to do it by their lives.

    Just my 2 cents. This is where I see churches constantly falling short.

  2. Simply put, a missional church is when a community realizes that its all about ‘Sending’ people out and not so much the ‘Seating’ capacity in their building. It also involves going out and intentionally meeting the needs of the community God has strategically placed you in. Its centered around the Gospel and not a leader, pastor or an individual idea.

    We are called to disciple. It’s that simple. How we ‘correct’ what has been struggling to stay alive and remain the church today? Well, that’s a whole other discussion. We need to relieve ourselves, truly repent, and begin to step away from the institutionalized church we’ve created. The answer is found in what many are referring to as, ‘organic discipleship,’ as clearly described in Matthew 28. It clearly states that we need to make disciples and not gather converts. The basics accomplishment are,

    Gospel Centered.
    Going out.
    Sharing God’s message.
    Make disciples.

    Let me clarify that another crash-course session in the form of a class is not what I mean when making disciples. Church leaders need to return to the art and commitment of discipleship. May I add that it begins in your home, as a single person, father, mother, or what have you. it begins with you.

  3. One of the many ways churches can be missional (and one of the first places many churches decide NOT to be missional) is through reaching local college students. Unless a church is actually part of the campus (and there are some “collegiate churches”), the campus is not really a part of the church’s “neighborhood” – even if it’s next door. Campuses have their own sociological thing going on, so reaching into them nearly always involves going outside of a church’s own context.

    Even churches that otherwise strive to be missional regularly miss this point: By avoiding specific ministries to collegians and campuses (in hopes of fully assimilating them into the larger church), they may actually be dragging students out of their primary contexts. So some of the most missional churches out there actually end up being “attractional” at this key juncture. Yes, we absolutely need to teach collegians about involvement in the greater Body… but not at the expense of their discipleship as Christ-followers in their present campus communities.

    See you at Verge. Have a great trip down there.

  4. Simply put…missional living requires uncomfortable living and most churches wont go there. Christ never called us to be “comfortable”. Proximity requires responsibility. We are to care for those around us and it shouldnt be only the ones who step into our buildings. Get out and love people.