How can we become more missional?

The question I have been asking since we came home from the House Church Summit in India is, "Which of the factors that have produced the incredible results in India are transferable to a Western culture?" 

Perhaps the biggest contrast I saw between what happens there and the typical church (whether legacy or simple church) in the West is their emphasis on reaching out and the Great Commission.  They genuinely believe that being a disciple is all about going and sharing the good news with others.  Their training is all geared towards this truth; I did not hear a teaching that did not include some aspect of it. ("Apostolic teaching is the teaching to go."  "All the commands of Jesus lead to the fulfillment of the Great Commission.")  Disciples bear fruit, and the assumption (unlike here in the West where we tend to think "fruit of the Spirit") is that this fruit is new disciples, who of course, in turn are trained to make more disciples.

The effect of this emphasis over there is that people are becoming disciples in incredible numbers in a situation where persecution of Christians is common.  Curtis Sergeant, who has extensive experience with both countries, reckons that what is going on in India could be even more amazing than the China story.

So what do we do here in the West where everyone has at least had a chance to hear the Good News?  I sometimes wonder if the gospel we preach is a "Santa Claus" gospel (come to Jesus and he will give you a wonderful and problem-free life) that enables us to live a passive life of being blessed.  However the gospel of the Kingdom (a new covenant experience where our side is obedience–not done out of legalism but out of love for the One who has rescued us from our old lives) leads to an intentional intersecting of the Kingdom with the world through our lives.

Huge numbers of people are moving into house/simple/organic churches all over this country.  It is clearly something God is doing.  There is no central organization or some charismatic guru who is propagating these ideas.  It is the Holy Spirit himself who is whispering the same thing to people all over the country, and as they obey him by moving into their homes, they are finding each other.  I believe this is a movement orchestrated by the Lord.

Some of these new churches are very outward looking.  However, there is a tendency for them to be more focused on community and going deeper with God.  Don't get me wrong.  Both of these are vital.  But there may be too great an emphasis on our lives together (John 13:35–Your love for one another will prove to the world that you are my disciples) and not enough on telling others (Romans 10:14-16–But how can they call on him to save them unless they believe in him?  And how can they believe in him if they have never heard about him?  And how can they hear unless someone tells them?).  It costs something in terms of convenience and comfort to deliberately go out of one's way to reach out to others.

What will it take for us to become a Kingdom focused and outward reaching movement.  Clearly it is something that ultimately only God can do–and there are many stories of individual simple churches where He is doing this.  But we have a part to play in cooperating with God.

What will it take for us to have a missional DNA?

How can we become a people for whom the Great Commission is an over-riding passion?

7 thoughts on “How can we become more missional?”

  1. In the Gospel of the Kingdom there is a strong emphasis for us become responsible for everything God entrusted us with. The areas of our lives come in concentric circle like priorities: Relationship with God, family, church, job, community, etc. And the fact is that everyone has God given relationships like friends, classmates, workmates and relatives to bring into the Kingdom of God. So, we must pray, witness and bring everything under the headship of Christ. It is very organic by the way! So, it is not about attending meetings or talking about Jesus. We are ought to be rulers under the King of kings! Let every believer young and old bring his or her domain under the Rule of the King!

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  2. Thank you Felicity for bringing this up. We are blessed SO THAT we can be a blessing which is the Abrahamic covenant that God repeated to him over and over.
    This begins with prayer asking the Father what He wants to do, soaking in prayer, being close to HIm and travailing with Him. The harvest is ripe here in N America too. Let’s keep spurring each other on!

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  3. This is a great post Felicity and really focuses on our failing. You nailed it with your quotes: “Apostolic teaching is the teaching to go.” and “All the commands of Jesus lead to the fulfillment of the Great Commission.”
    Pastoral teaching, by contrast, is to stay and focus on spiritual growth so “some day” a believer will actually be able to do some undefined thing in the church.
    The fruit of the Spirit *is* a changed life, but fruit isn’t intended for the other trees in the grove. The seed is in the fruit (Genesis 1:11)! It isn’t an end to itself but is the means of propagating the gospel. We’ve been coring our apples – delivering fruit with no seed – because we don’t understand Kingdom agriculture.

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  4. Felicity, your series is most challenging, Thank You!
    To attempt to answer your question, what I do is pray and ask God to put me in front of people who are ready to hear this word, kind of like asking for a person of peace.
    Also just do the stuff, then share testimonies.
    But most of all Pray Pray Pray.

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  5. I keep wondering if the house church in North America hasn’t made a fundamental mistake. It has gotten excited about home churches and not discipleship and training/equipping. On top of this it has focused on what we do when we meet instead of how we are trained to go into the world. It is my belief and it has been my experience that when we start with the meeting and what we will do when at that meeting…..its over. It is as hard to bring that house church back to a missional conversation as it is in the traditional church.
    After reading Floyd McClung’s article “Developing a culture of discipleship in your community” and hearing your words about India, “Their training is all geared towards this truth” and Neil Cole saying that his LTG groups are essential to the growth of organic churches, I am beginning to believe that we need that place where we are being equipped to “go.” I am quoting from memory Gordon Cosby of the Church of the Saviour in Washington DC.
    We thought that if we went to small groups we would become missional. Well that never happened. Not that it sometimes happened. It never happened. It was only when we put in place our discipleship night did things begin to happen.
    I have a lot more to say about this but if we have a chance to reboot this whole thing we call simple/house/organic church I think we need to start with creating a culture of discipleship instead of what we do when we meet.
    Finally, the only way to have organic missional churches is to have missional people in those house churches……………
    Don’t get me wrong, I am not against meeting simply asking the question “Have we put the cart before the horse and are unable to switch it back.?

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  6. Interesting reading. This is the #1 frustration as a Christian, which I have been for over 30 years. I have been in some sort of ministry from the beginning of my Christian ‘walk’,and now involved and lead a house church but the frustration of reaching the lost is still there.

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