I recently read a blog written by a well-respected elder statesman in evangelical circles. The premise of his writing seemed, at least to me, to be that moving towards a “missional” expression of the church could potentially be a dangerous move.
I have to say that I agree with him… up to a point. It is inherently dangerous, but not in quite the same way as he characterizes it.
The author says this of people who are “buying into missional,” in his words:
Their commitment is to “bring the Kingdom of God into the community.” But, the success of those kingdom-building efforts does not seem to be evaluated on whether those who are exposed to “the Kingdom” are ever reached and assimilated into active membership and participation in a local church.
Furthermore, he seems to equate bringing the Kingdom of God into the community with a low view of church, inferring that people who are reached with the Gospel through tangible, incarnational, missional means are left feeling free to have a take-it-or-leave-it connection to “the church.”
It seems to me like our brother's position might be formed by the paradigm that says “church” as well as the Kingdom of God must occur in a formal structure with rules, regulations, and a well-defined sense of who belongs (members). The word nausea comes to mind when I try to imagine his message being communicated to emerging generations. Could it be that the world which formed this view simply doesn't exist any longer?
In the words of our brother Reggie McNeal
"The appropriate response to the emerging world is a rebooting of the mission, a radical obedience to an ancient command, a loss of self rather than self-preoccupation, concern about service and sacrifice rather than concern about style. The missional renewal of the North American church is essential to its future. I am convinced that most expressions of the institutional church in America will not survive the emerging world. If that sounds threatening to you, then you may be more in love with the church than you are with Jesus. You need to take this up with him".
As I stated before, I do believe that buying into missional can be dangerous. It is dangerous, in my opinion, because as a church moves towards becoming a more tangible expression of Christ’s kingdom come, she will invariably begin to question the tight grip she has had on the institutionalized mindset and practices that have maintained equilibrium or stability within her walls. I am a passionate lover of the Church as the bride of Jesus. I do, however, wonder if we have fallen in love with her so desperately that we can no longer even imagine the kingdom which she has been gifted, equipped and charged to usher in.