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What Does It Mean To Be Missional?

January 27, 2013

“As the Father has sent me, I am sending you” (John 20:21).

When you hear the word “Missional” what comes to mind for you? As I write this, I am in the final stages of completing my doctor of ministry degree in the area of Congregational Mission Leadership through Luther Seminary.  These past six years I have been dwelling in the meaning of the word Missional. It is the buzz word right now in the Christian world. What does it mean to you to be missional? Is it something you do? Is it something you are?

In the words of South African missiologist David Bosch: “It is not the church which undertakes mission; it is the missio Dei (the mission of God) which constitutes the church.” Or stated in a slightly different manner; it is not so much that God has a MISSION for His church in the world, but that God has a CHURCH for His mission in the world.  You see, we don’t have the mission, God does! And, therefore, God created the church for His mission.  That’s right!  We exist as a congregation in order to do God’s mission in the world.

The attraction model of ministry (the “build it and they will come model), which has dominated the church in America for the past several decades, seeks to reach out to the culture around us and draw people INTO the church so that they can become like us. This is not what God’s mission has been about….ever.  Rather, missional churches see their primary function as one of actively moving OUT into a community to embody and enflesh the word, deed, and life of Jesus into every nook and cranny. This tends to be a challenge for churches who have been so used to expecting people to come into their building and to become like them.

Being missional people is all about identifying ourselves with the hurts, needs, and missio Dei in the world and then meeting it head on. It means that we will probably need to change in the process.  It means not worrying about “the way things have always been done” but rather looking at how things “need to be done” in order to complete God’s mission in the world.  This means that to be truly Christian people is to be flexible people.

As we look toward 2013 at St John’s Lutheran you will hear more and more about what it means to be missional people. This year we are very excited for ministry at St. John’s and especially the three Ministry Initiatives that you will hear about at the Annual Meeting and also read within this report. But, to simply have these initiatives and to celebrate the other ministries without considering what is means to be missional is missing the point. Everything that we do at St. John’s should be about engaging the world around us.  That means we are going to have to change some old patterns of thinking. That means we are going to need to change, rather than expecting others in our community to change. That’s not easy, nor comfortable.  But, as you know, Jesus never said that being a disciple was easy.  In fact Jesus said that it would cost us something to take up our crosses and follow Him.

I want us to wrestle with what being a missional congregation means for us.  And, I want you to wrestle with what this means for you and your family. Our winter Small Group Ministry focus will be to study Rick Warren’s “What On Earth Am I Here For?”  Sure seems to be a missional question!  Friends, the work we do in fleshing out what this means for St John’s will have a profound impact on our community of Mound, the Westonka School district, and our greater world!  Join me in helping St John’s claim our calling as missional people!  And, commit to being open and wiling to see where God is leading St. John’s into the future. It’s a little scary and exciting all at the same time! That’s missional!

Blessings,

Pastor Jeff Heiderscheit

 

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