Simply Missional: There Is No Model

As I mentioned in the introduction, there is no model for how to do this — not in the sense that we leaders think of church models. We want a “how to” book with pre-printed literature for classes. Maybe even a poster we can buy to hang in the foyer. Maybe an expert we can hire with all the answers. But it’s not going to happen.

6. Neither Missional nor Simple is a church model.

Frankly, the proclivity of leaders to look for another church model is a sign of the church’s shallowness, not its maturity. …

All types of churches should be simply missional. What we are advocating is for church leaders to distill their ideology of what church is to the irreducible minimum that defines a church as God’s gathered people, sent to a particular community as His redemptive gift to that community.

We need all types of missional churches–big, small, traditional, contemporary, with country music (did we say that?), hip-hop, some with guitars, some with organs. We need churches in homes and churches in well-marked buildings.

The container is not the issue. The issue is not staying contained.

All types of churches should seek to release their people to be missionaries in the culture. And all types of churches need a discipleship process based on knowing and doing. We believe having a process for discipleship is essential in any effective church model and that process must contain an equal amount of lab work and classroom study. We believe any effective church model will challenge and cause their people to be missional.

Oh, wow. I need to buy that book! But I have it — several copies of it, in various translations, some with concordances and maps in the back. It’s not about methods so much as discipleship.

Now, “discipleship” is one of those words that becomes a buzzword every decade or two, with each version reflecting a different meaning. 

I don’t mean “disciple” in the sense of being dominated by church leaders. That’s not scriptural discipleship.

Nor do I mean “disciple” in the sense of student — although being a student is part of it (as is submission).

Nor do I mean “disciple” in the sense of undertaking a dozen spiritual disciplines. Discipline is part of the discipleship — but not its definition.

Rather, being a disciple means being a disciple of Jesus — in the sense that the apostles were disciples. They studied at his feet and prayed with him, and they walked with him among the people. And when they were ready, Jesus sent them to go out and spread the gospel and help those in need — in teams.

And later, Jesus sent them out to make more disciples, who’d go with them and be sent out by them. And those newly minted disciples were expected to do the very same thing.

This is a definition we run from because it scares us. And it should. But it’s the only definition that’s even remotely true to the Bible.

We need to keep whatever programs help us make and be disciples — and don’t get in the way of making and being disciples. We eliminate all the rest. We should be ruthless in so doing, and we should deal with church politics by calling our members to discipleship — not by compromising with selfishness.

But then, realizing how much our human natures struggle to change, we take enough time to do it all gently and lovingly. But we do it.

It’s simple. And it’s missional.

About Jay F Guin

My name is Jay Guin, and I’m a retired elder. I wrote The Holy Spirit and Revolutionary Grace about 18 years ago. I’ve spoken at the Pepperdine, Lipscomb, ACU, Harding, and Tulsa lectureships and at ElderLink. My wife’s name is Denise, and I have four sons, Chris, Jonathan, Tyler, and Philip. I have two grandchildren. And I practice law.
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One Response to Simply Missional: There Is No Model

  1. Joe Baggett says:

    We are emerging from era in the churches of Christ where mission meant not changing your mind but winning doctrinal arguments with your religious neighbor and the word mission was almost exclusively referring to everywhere in the world but the congregation’s own backyard. The ideas and words of discipleship and personal transformation were not evenly remotely associated with “mission”. This is why true transformation and discipleship were and are so rare in traditional church circles. The power of the Gospel is lost when church members can subscribe to all the right doctrinal positions, follow all the approved acts of worship, but have little to no story of personal transformation! The search for the perfect church “model” does reveal how shallow our overall church culture has become. We can drag people to the Baptistery all day long and never make one single disciple. The church bubble has popped; the traditional church culture is collapsing right before our very eyes. We try to come up with things to continue our delusion such Flavil Yeakley’s recent comparison of the churches of Christ against other ailing denominations but the truth is most of the present church culture will be completely marginalized in a few decades. Just look at the other developed counties that have gone through the same post modern phenomena like England, Japan, Australia, and Western Europe. Francis Schaffer wrote in his book published in 1969 “Death in the City” of the coming post modern era. Very few paid attention to him. I bet many wished they had. This is the nemesis for Christianity; there is not a single Post modern area of the world where traditional Christianity had risen to become a major influencing factor in the broader culture. The differences for emerging generations are not in a new flashy approach to “Evangelism”, but theology. Post modernism is a search for meaning, not really a Christian one but meaning none the less. The reality is that emerging generations both in and outside of traditional church circles found very little meaning in the tradition, institutional, dogmatic, empty, arrogant religion of the modern era. Until the existing church culture is ready to be willing to continually re-examine all convictions and theology from an un-biased (as much as possible) viewpoint, the present church culture will continue to collapse.

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