Warning: Being missional may kill your church. You may be thinking, “Seriously I thought being missional was cool?” or “I thought being missional was going to grow my church plant?” Well, I have good news and bad news for you.
The Good News
The good news is there is a healthy mission shift happening in the church today. Missional is the new sexy. The shift that is taking place in the church is called by some the “Missional Church Shift.” Churches are becoming missionaries in their communities, that do not focus on strategies and formulas that have worked among people who live in other areas. Instead they find strategies that help them connect with the people in their context.
In Breaking the Missional Code, Ed Stetzer explains how the church has shifted to missional thinking in the following way:
- From programs to processes
- From demographics to discernment
- From models to missions
- From attractional to incarnational
- From uniformity to diversity
- From professional to passionate
- From seating to sending
- From decisions to disciples
- From additional to exponential
- From monuments to movements
Before You Get Too Excited
Before you get too excited about being missional know that not everyone is going to like this. Before you and your church become missional you may want to count the cost first.
Everyone wants to talk about being missional but few people actually want to live on mission. Why? Being missional will cost you something. Look at Jesus in John chapter 6. When Jesus told them what it really meant to follow him many of his followers bailed on him. And I have news for you; people will bail on you too.
Notice I said, “You’re church.” Being missional will not kill Jesus’ church, but it just might kill your church. In many ways this is exactly what needs to happen. Too many of our churches are built on personalities, buildings, and programs instead of Jesus and his mission. We are addicted to our church subcultures, numbers, personal agendas, and so on.
If we are honest, we all want our churches to be successful. But what if being successful meant focusing on a few instead of the multitude? What if being successful means losing a lot of our church crowd who really don’t want to follow Jesus or live on mission anyway? So before you try to transition your church to being missional ask yourself the question, “Are you ready to pay the price?”
Advice for Becoming a Missional Church
If this sound like I am discouraging you from leading your church to live on mission, I am not. In fact I would challenge you to begin to lead your church on mission from the start. So here are a few ways that you can begin to make a missional shift in your local church.
- Take baby steps. Don’t blow your church up all at once. Your church will never be missional if you don’t have anyone left.
- Personally live and lead on mission. It all begins with you. As a church leader you are the example that others will follow.
- Recognize the needs of your community and pray about how you can meet their needs.
- Begin to preach and teach on mission. Remember baby steps.
- Just do it. Get people to leave the four walls of the church and get out into the community.
Dr. Winfield Bevins serves as the Director of Asbury Seminary’s Church Planting Initiative. He has a passion for equipping others to spread the gospel in their own context. As a seasoned practitioner, he has used his experience to train leaders from diverse backgrounds on three different continents. He is the author of several books, including Plant: A Sower’s Guide to Church Planting. You can find out more about him at his website winfieldbevins.com.