Friday, June 15, 2007

20 Characteristics of the Missional Church

What is the missional church? It is the church that is sent out into the world, taking up the mission of Christ. By looking at the narrative of Christ's life and ministry, his statements about his mission, and passages which detail the fundamental mission and nature of the church, I have come up with the following 20 characteristics of the missional church.

  1. The missional church loves God and neighbor.
  2. The missional church views itself as a missional community.
  3. The missional church lives incarnationally amongst the people whom it seeks to save, and thus its mission is contexualized for its community.
  4. The missional church follows the Spirit who has preceded them into the world.
  5. The missional church engages in table fellowship.
  6. The missional church actively seeks and brings salvation to the lost.
  7. The missional church serves the world and one another.
  8. The missional church provides ministries of healing to the world, ministering to the brokenness of humanity.
  9. The missional church proclaims the good news of Jesus and the kingdom of God.
  10. The missional church lives under the reign of God and witnesses to this reign through its lifestyle.
  11. The missional church ministers to the poor, needy, and outcasts of society.
  12. The missional church is being made holy, transformed into image of God.
  13. The missional church emphasizes heart over ritual, continually seeking to shed itself of burdensome rules that are oppressive.
  14. The missional church challenges all structures and powers, both religious and political, which fall short of the kingdom of God.
  15. The missional church brings glory to God through its worship, its being, and its service.
  16. The missional church seeks to keep all believers faithful.
  17. The missional church offers repentance and forgiveness of sins.
  18. The missional church reaches out all nations/ethnic groups.
  19. The missional church is an agent of reconciliation, breaking downs all barriers.
  20. The missional church forms disciples of Jesus Christ (as it goes out into the world), baptizing them and teaching to obey.

All such lists are by nature reductionary. This list could be expanded or reduced further, based upon need. It could even be divided into traditional categories of evangelism, discipleship, service, fellowship, and worship. However, these categories alone fail to capture the essential missional (sent) nature of the church. These things happen in the midst of the world, in the public sphere so to speak, not primarily in a church building. The church should be thought of as being rather than as a place.

What do you think of these characteristics?

4 comments:

The Queen: said...

The list of twenty sounds like it defeats the purpose of "Simple Church!"

I wonder if we could pare the list down to 3 things? :)

On you mark. Get set. Go.

(I know you are asking yourself, "What book is she reading now?" he he he.

James said...

Cynthia,

I absolutely believe in Simple Church. Simple church looks at process, not characteristics. A simple process can still achieve all of these characteristics.

For instance, a church could set up a process of:
1) going to third places
2) forming small groups for outreach, service, discipleship, fellowship
3) worship

or in conceptual terms like:
1) love God
2) love neighbor
3) serve the community.

If I were to pare the above list to three things that the church does, I would probably use Jesus' own explicit statements for why he came:
1) seek and save the lost
2) proclaim the good news of the kingdom of God
3) serve

I am still looking for the perfect wording and process, though I have some ideas on this. Would you like to offer some suggestions?

James

The Queen: said...

I'll give it some thought and get back to you.

We missed you at Starbucks Monday night (6/18). Take care and we'll see you back here later.

James said...

Good! I'll look forward to your thoughts.

When I was making today's post on music, the arts and spirituaity, I thought that you might like it.

James