Chances are you’ve heard the word “missional.” Some of you know it well – you’ve read books and blogs about it, written posts or papers of your own, analyzed it, praised it, critiqued it. Others think you should stop now and come back tomorrow because you fear I’m going to assume you know more than you do. I’m not, so keep reading. Actually I’m convinced that very few who use word know what it means. At the risk of proving my own suspicion, I’ve got 156 words left to define it as best I can.

Being “missional” means approaching every cultural situation as a missionary.

  • Missionaries look for ways God is already moving and jump in midstream.
  • Missionaries recognize that no culture already reflects the gospel, so they critically analyze their context on all levels – personal, familial, social, artistic, economic, political, historical – to discern how the gospel affirms some parts of the culture and how it rejects or challenges others.
  • Missionaries take at least some cues from their cultural context to guide how they embody the gospel and share it with others.
  • Missionaries know they are “resident aliens” – though at home in the culture, it is not their home; though integrating, they’ll never be absorbed. They are outsiders. They are weird.

So missionality involves joining what God is already doing, paying critical attention to culture, incarnating the gospel locally, and never letting yourself feel fully at home. And part of the point is that we can and must do this everywhere.

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NOTE: In light of my 30th birthday and in honor of the guys who have all the fun, I’ll be offering thirty reflections in thirty days starting December 19th. Today’s post is #8 (see the so-far list here). The only rule is that I have 250 words to make my point. After that just stop reading. Thanks for making my blog part of your internet experience.