See and hear the video of Michael Frost on the Missional Church on youtube if you want to see where I’m getting these notes.
“The whole idea of missional church thinking is a fundamental and prophetic call for the church orient everything it is doing around the agenda of mission. In other words, of all the practices of the church ought to legitimately be involved in, missional church thinkers believe that mission ought to be the organizing principle of all those things. We don’t think that worship is the primary organizing principle… we don’t think the creation of Christian fellowship or community is the organizing principle… we don’t think even that the expression of evangelism is the primary or organizing principle… We are talking about a church in which worship, community, leadership, evangelism, social justice, theological thinking, is oriented around or organized around the fundamental agenda of mission.
(5:49) “It’s about the church of Jesus Christ galvanized into a viral movement sent outwards, propelled into every nook and cranny of, in your case, American culture, for the purpose of lifting up Jesus.” (He actually used this point in the context of an if/then statement, but I drew out from it this point).
Three things will happen if you embrace this paradigm:
- You will see God differently. They don’t believe God is far and distant in heaven only. God has not separated himself but you have a God who moved outward and is into the world. Missio Dei is not translated “Mission of God” but is a way of describing the very nature and character of God himself. It is better translated as “The Missioning God” or “The God of Mission.” The Missio Dei is going out in search of those who’ve not yet redeemed.
- You will see the church differently (15:01). We see the church as participatio Christi. What is the church? The gathering of the redeemed ones sent to participate in the work of Jesus in this world. What does it mean, it is actually to go forth as salt and light in this world and not to huddle, not to gather, and not to pour most of our energies and most of our times and indeed most of our money on serving ourselves or our loved ones. Participate in what Jesus is doing in this world. You will be astonished at what you discover. – The Missio Dei makes the church ask: Whom can we serve? Whom can we love? and to whom can we go?
- You will see the world differently (34:29). Church thinking has been typically been how wonderful things are in church and how icky things are outside of the church. Every person bears the imago dei, the image of God. His fingerprint is on their souls. He pointed out the wickedness in the church and goodness out of the church. Forget the boundaries. There are weeds and wheats in the church and out of the church.
49:17 – “The Missio Dei is inviting you to participate in what Christ has planted in the depths of their souls and the imago dei, the belief that every one of them has buried in the deep dark black rock canyons of their souls, the stuff of faith just waiting for a word or a prayer or an act of service from you his sent ones. Are you covetous of that mission? Is that the greatest happiness of your life?”
The Mission (51:06): finding your treasure buried in the hearts of every soul, [God’s] fingerprints on the spirit of every person.
MY THOUGHTS AND REFLECTION:
- I was rebuked in point two about the church that gets ingrown and is not aware and out there loving the people who are not yet in Christ. What a great word of rebuke! It brought clarity afresh to why I moved out to LA. The Spirit convicted me sharply there and for that I’m grateful to God and to Michael Frost.
- The outward/movement focus and ethos of the paradigm and lecture were as encouraging as the talk itself. I loved the ethos and again stand corrected and helped because of it.
- When he asked if the mission (as he describes and defines it) is the greatest happiness of my life, I thought to myself that I should be more passionate for the mission (of reconciliation as defined by 2 Cor. 5:4-21 in my view) and that the mission is not to be the greatest happiness in my life, lest I become idolotrous. I appreciated his passion for the mission. That was just a great overstatement to say that the mission is to be the greatest happiness of my life. Very clearly God in Christ is to be the greatest happiness of my life, infinitely greater than the great mission.
- The distinctive of the “missional church thinking paradigm” is a set of emphases and a philosophy of church. So the philosophy is everything in church is oriented and organized around the mission. I agree with that and actually think that that is inevitable in all churches and the difference is what they define their mission to be and what their functional definition of mission is. But the emphases which gives flesh to Frost’s definition of mission is that (1) God is the missioning God who is seeking the unredeemed, (2) the church participates in what Christ is doing in the world and not allowing the church to be self-focused, and (3) everyone in the world is valuable because they are made in God’s image. I appreciate these emphases and they are very corrective of much Christianity and evangelicalism that I’ve seen. But I see this in many churches that would not be considered missional by many who use the term (like Capitol Hill Baptist Church in Washington DC).
- I think the definition of the mission is real poetic and at the same time uclear. How is this different from someone defining the organizing mission as evangelism of those not yet redeemed? I love the passion and outward ethos of the lecture, but I don’t see how this is different than one saying the mission is evangelism of the lost unless they say it’s also social justice/good. But even then, that’s not new and doesn’t seem distinct to this new label “missional church thinking paradigm.”
- For other critiques of missional thinking, one should look at Dave Harvey’s notes and hear his talk on it and then also read Jonathan Leeman’s article on it. I need to review these myself.