Missional is not something that you just arrive at one day and accomplish. This is a growth process. The goal is continued growth in Christ for the world, and congregations must grow into their faith. The only way to become missional is to practice mission. We must begin with that strategy.
Rather than looking to Scripture as a book of answers, the Missional church lives with Scripture. Living with scripture leads to seeing the world in a completely new way as this directly affects the assumptions about life and God that we hold dear. It is this return to Scripture reading us, which allows us to engage life through our transformation (Roxburgh 2006: 180).
Leadership needs to enable its congregation to live with Scripture. Today is a time of rapid change and transformation. This fact leads to deep anxiety in society and the church. Living with Scripture helps congregations dig deeply to the source of anxiety.
Over the next year, begin to offer opportunities for the congregation to spend time with Scripture in such a way that everyday anxieties and questions emerge. Answers to these are not the point. The point is to share them in community and pray, discuss, offer assistance, and listen to each other. As the questions emerge, deeper community occurs and hidden issues and anxieties become known. These anxieties then guide the theological teaching needed.
A few practical methods that allow space to live with Scripture are use of the idea of Midrash, times of community discussion around certain issues/topics, Lexio Divina, Tazie worship, and community meals. These methods can apply in worship, small groups, Sunday Schools, and even be encouraged during informal gatherings between friends.
The shift to missional ecclesiology requires sharing ministry leadership. Because the goal of missional ecclesiology is maturity in Christ for the purpose of witness and ministry, it is imperative that congregants have opportunity to grow and minister. My suggestion is to develop an intentional plan that releases and equips individuals and small groups to imagine their unique purpose in the world and act it out in response to their faith.
Providing the opportunity to live the Scripture as discussed before is the beginning point for new imagination. To encourage movement beyond anxiety and creative energy toward acting out their faith, it is important to teach and discuss a theology that understands transformation as both spiritual and social. Two practical steps to implement slowly over the next year are a special church wide study centered on the question, “Who is a Minister?”, and the development of a mentoring process.
One practical study that congregations can participate in is a study called Klesis, which is available from the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship. Klesis is a study of the biblical and theological foundations for recognizing giftedness and translating that understanding into missional calling and ministry.
The mentoring process can allow those wanting to learn how to minister holistically to walk alongside those actively ministering missionally. A special ordination service could formalize the mentor process; journaling and cohort learning groups could help those being mentored process, understand, and learn from their experience. The goal of the mentor process would be to develop capacity for lifelong holistic ministry.
The shifting place of church in society is a reality that all churches in the West must face. If the church were an only an institution, this would pose a significant problem. However, the church is not only an institution. The church is a people who have affirmed the reconciliation offered by God through Christ. The purpose of this people is to continue the mission of God through Christ and witness to Gods reconciling act of salvation. Congregations grow into their witness with each burden borne as community and each step beyond the walls of their meeting place.
Roxburgh, Alan J., and Fred Romanuk. 2006. The Missional Leader: Equipping Your Church to Reach a Changing World. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.