Discerning Mission

M is for missional church

M

From Craig Van Gelder's book The Ministry of the Missional Church: A Community Led by the Spirit:

The church is.
The church does what it is.
The church organizes what it does.

The interrelationship of all three aspects is important to understand. The church is. The church's nature provides the framework and foundation for understanding the essential character of the church. The church does what it is. The nature of the church establishes the foundation for understanding the purpose of the church and its ministry and determines their direction and scope. The church organizes what it does. The ministry of the church introduces strategies and processes that require the exercise of leadership and the development of organization within the church. The key point to understand is that the Spirit-led ministry of the church flows out of the Spirit-created nature of the church. What is also critical to understand is that the exercise of leadership and the development of organization need to function in support of this ministry. What is crucial is to keep these in proper sequence when considering the mission church -- nature, purpose/ministry, organization.

The missional church reorients our thinking about the church in regard to God's activity in the world. The Triune God becomes the primary acting subject rather than the church. God has a mission in the world, what is usually referred to as the missio Dei. In understanding the missio dei, we find that God as a creating God also creates the church through the Spirit, who calls, gathers, and sends the church into the world to participate in God's mission. This participation is based on the redemption that God accomplished through the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, a redemption that was announced by Jesus as the "Kingdom of God" (which I prefer to reframe as the "redemptive reign of God in Christ").

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