I love the conversation on “missional” and the buzz word “mission” being used more in Christian circles. This can be a good thing, though in my view it is often an obscure thing. It’s good because it is a way of reminding ourselves and others to stay on task, to keep focused, to remember the objective, and to align all actions with that great mission.
At the same time, everyone is “missional” in some sense. Everyone has a “mission” and everyone seeks to accomplish it. Just like all humans can’t help but be worshipers, believers, theologians, and philosophers, all humans are also missionaries and missional. They may worship the wrong person or thing but they worship. They may believe lies but they believe and act on their beliefs. They may have wrong views about God but they have views about God. And people may not do philosophy well and seek coherence and consistency but every human does philosophy. So it is with mission. Everyone lives for something. Every organization has a functional objective, no matter how ill-defined or incoherent it may be. Every church has a mission, regardless of how focused or consistent they are with the mission. So if missional is a good adjective, then it would mean the church is more focused, consistent, and effective in accomplishing her mission. But every church is more or less “missional” in the sense that they have a mission. I will use the term “mission” the way Christopher Wright does in his book, The Mission of God.
Generally speaking, I will use the term mission in its more general sense of a long-term purpose or goal that is to be achieved through proximate objectives and planned actions. Within such a broad mission (as applied to any group or enterprise), there is room for subordinate missions, in the sense of specific tasks assigned to a person or group that are to be accomplished as steps toward the wider mission.
I like Wright’s thinking here on defining “mission” because it doesn’t stick strictly to the root of the word’s origin “to send” but also takes into account the way the word is used today. So mission is the long-term purpose/goal that is to be achieved. There are “subordinate missions” for God the Son, God the Spirit, the church, the individual church member (Christian disciple), and for a church pastor. These subordinate missions are “specific tasks assigned to a person or group that are to be accomplished as steps toward the wider mission” of God the Father. One way to begin to get at the mission of each entity is to say something along the lines of, “the mission of _______ is to glorify God by _______.” The first blank names the entity and the second blank states the subordinate mission (specific and unique task in the long term purpose/goal that is to be achieved). Assumed is that the wider mission is to glorify God as will be discussed later in this series of posts.
So my thesis is to define the wider mission of God and the subordinate missions of the Father, Jesus Christ, the Holy Spirit, the church, the church member (Christian), and the pastor (6 entities in all) with an intention of applying it to the ministry and mission of CrossView Church in Los Angeles. If the mission distorts the wider mission or goes beyond the nature of its specific entity.
 I realize that “missional church” is used for a particular church mentality that sees the whole church as sent by God and made up of individual missionaries. That indeed is one way the church may carry out her “mission.” For example, Gregg Allison writes, “This contrasts with missions being seen more as an activity of the church rather than in terms of the church’s essential image of itself. Missional is a matter of identity first, then function: ‘a missional ecclesiology stresses that the church’s very existence has been sent into the world….the fundamental point is that missions is not peripheral or additional for the church. The fact that is has been sent is of its essential nature, so much so that the sending is implicitly and explicitly formative in all aspects of its life—its worship, its koinonia, its engagements, its witness, its birthing of new communities, its sociopolitical engagements, its compassion and mercy.’ Furthermore, this emphasis underscores that the missional task of the church has been given to it; it is a divinely given mandate, not a responsibility the church takes to itself” Assembly of “The Way,” (Crossway, forthcoming), 34 in chapter 4 on a pre-published copy given to students at The Resurgence Training Center. See also Tim Keller’s article, “The Missional Church” where he outlines 5 characteristics of a missional church after explaining it’s need (June, 2001). If others say churches that are “attractional” or don’t have this mentality are not “missional,” I understand the sentiment and am using the adjective slightly different here.