Mike Frost is a writer, speaker and generally cool guy you would want to have a beer with. He talks about something called Missional Church. If you are part of certain church circles you feel like everyone is talking about Missional Church and you either hate it or love it. If you aren’t then you have no idea what it is. Mike was in Vancouver last week and so a bunch of pastors and church leaders got together to listen to him. Here’s what he said.
He gave a very clear definition of Mission Church. he drew a diagram like this.
Pretty cool eh? W = Worship D = Discipleship C = Community and M = Mission The diagram represents the functions of a church. If you do these things then you are a church.
Missional Church, according to Mike Frost, is a church in which all these functions are shaped and catalyzed by Mission.
This is different than most churches, where Mike says all these functions are shaped and catalyzed by Worship. What does he mean?
Imagine you go to a typical church every Sunday. You feel part of the community. What is it that makes you part of the community? It’s the fact that you show up for worship on Sunday morning. If you stopped showing up people would think something was wrong and (hopefully) call you. If you continued not showing up soon you would not be part of the community. Simple. So community is shaped and catalyzed by Worship.
This is the same for discipleship and mission. Discipleship is the process of bringing people closer to God and deepening their faith. A typical church does this through the Sunday morning worship service. People come, pray, sing and listen to a sermon. The idea is that this will help them grow in faith. Many churches have small groups and bible studies, but these are often secondary. We put far more energy into Sunday morning. If you had to quit bible study or Sunday morning which would you quit first?
And how do we do Mission? We send money to foreign missionaries, run church programs and sometimes talk to our friends. We collect the money to send during our worship services. The programs that we run and even talking to friends about Jesus are often intended to bring people into church on Sunday. Imagine your Vacation Bible School or youth outreach program went exactly the way you would want it to. What would that look like? People would become Christians and then they would come to church on Sunday morning. If a friend is interested in Jesus we invite them to church. So mission is shaped by worship.
Mike suggests that instead of Worship, Mission should be the shaping and catalyzing force in the church. Mission should be the goal that everything else is structured around.
Can you see what a dramatic change Mike and all these Missional Church guys are really pushing for. A church where the members no longer see attending Sunday morning worship as the center? To make this kind of change would feel like your church, as an organization, was dying and starting all over. How many churches will realistically be able to do this? Is it even right?
by Isaac Whiting
If you have heard anything about the Missional Church, or even if you just go to church please comment and tell me what you think.