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The Empirical Indicators of a ‘Missional Church’

Written by Mark Van Steenwyk : December 1, 2004

I’m surprised that I’ve never intentionally addressed this document before, but the Empirical Indicators of a ‘Missional Church’ is an incredibly helpful tool for people who are trying to bring expression to a missional ecclesiology.  Starting today, I am going to take a look at each of the 12 indicators.  Let’s look at number 1, shall we?  The blue text is from the website linked above.  My comments are in red:

1. The missional church proclaims
the Gospel.


What it looks like: The story of God’s
salvation is faithfully repeated in a multitude of different ways.

      
The community’s thought, words, and deeds are being formed into a pattern
that proclaims the Gospel of the crucified and risen Jesus Christ. As a
result, the Good News of God’s reign is publicly announced. The proclamation
is a "word and deed" proclamation; it is not only audible but visible as
well. It is audible in a proclamation that focuses not solely upon
the salvation of persons, or the transformation of individual human lives,
but also the transformation of the church, human communities, and the whole
human community, history, and creation in the coming and already present
reign of God. It is visible in, with, and through the quality of
a common life that manifests the unique culture-contrasting good news of
the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

I generally agree with this "indicator."  However, I struggle with the way in which a missional church ought to engage in the transformation of "human communities…history, and creation…"  What this looks like is different depending upon your view of cultural engagement.  I, for example, think that we should be VERY careful in how we use governmental power for the transformation of human communities.  I abstained from voting for the president in the previous election, and feel that Christians need to engage in DIRECT activisim, rather than the indirect activism of using the government to affect change.  (For more on my views of this, check out a previous post of mine called Getting Out the Vote. The Church is a New Humanity.  It is an Alternative Society.  We engage in transforming humanity and society by our distinctiveness–by introducing them into a relationship with Jesus Christ.  We don’t transform society–at least not primarily–by using our clout to pass better legislation and helping poor folks to become middle class.  Such efforts miss the point.

  •  Church members indicate that they understand
    that "proclaiming the Gospel" is the responsibility of all Christians;
    it is more than the vocational option for a selected minority.
  • Amen and Amen.  That is why I don’t believe in a real distinction between clergy and laity.

  •  Persons are able to point to and articulate "the
    source" from which the good words and deeds of the church emanate, that
    is, in their own words, they are able to indicate, "it is because of the
    saving Gospel of Jesus Christ that you see all these things."
  • It is amazing to me how little many articulations of the Gospel really have to do with Jesus Christ.  We need to anchor all we do and say upon the living person of Jesus Christ.

     

  • Persons, in their words and actions, express to others what God has done
    in the world and in their lives through Jesus Christ.
  • There is evidence that this is a community that can be entered into as
    a concrete expression of the Gospel’s own living story. That is, persons
    can see a community of people who believe, struggle, doubt, sin, forgive,
    and praise–together.
  • The body of people admittedly seeks to believe and behave in ways that
    conform to the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
  • We need to constantly keep the Gospel of Jesus before us.  We need to partake of Communion in ways that REALLY cause us to reflect on Jesus Christ (we share in Communion in our House Gatherings and try to take a good enough chunk of time to actually reflect and engage in the Gospel).  Our ethos must be built on the Gospel.  Every sermon must be closely related to, or be an expression of, the Gospel (which shouldn’t be difficult, since every word of the New Testament is related to the Gospel).  We must push our creativity to think of new ways of articulating and embodying the Gospel, so that the heart of our churches is the Gospel.

    for further reading . . .

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