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What is the Missional Church?

May 16, 2008

This is an extremely important question for the church going forward. It is still a new concept for many people. There are also lots of competing definitions of “missional.” So I thought I’d share what I found to be a helpful explanation and diagram from Kaleo Church (San Diego)


What is the Missional Church?

There is a distinct philosophical difference from where many evangelical churches begin their philosophy of ministry and the philosophy of the missional church. Popular theory has capitulated to a “Seeker” mentality that is fiercely pragmatic and consumer driven, and I believe ultimately ill equipped to proclaim the gospel in a postmodern western context.  The seeker church begins with a marketing approach to determine the “Target” audience’s needs and desires, and construct a church service and programs to meet those needs. This technique, though strategic and effective, panders to an individualistic and consumer base Christianity that moves into the business of the selling of religious “Goods and services.” This philosophy not only begins with man at the center, but creates programs and services that become the central focus of the mission, which neuters the idea that every Christian is a missionary to their culture. The missional church philosophy begins with the idea that it is God who is on mission for His own purposes and it is the church’s mission to become enlisted in that purpose in the world. To this David Bosch writes, “The term mission presupposes a sender, a person or persons sent by the sender, those to who one is sent, and an assignment.”[2] Verses such as John 20:21 become the interpretive tool for the missional church. This is referred to as the “Missio Dei” (Mission of God). Jesus Christ embodied that mission and sent us. The Holy Spirit empowers that mission, the church is the instrument of that mission, and the culture is the “Context” of that mission. The missional church is called to train missionaries to GO into our culture and be the gospel to their spheres of influence. Therefore the missional church doesn’t shape their programs around Consumeristic Christian needs, but around ministries designed to proclaim the gospel to the non-believer. This is not done as a program but a lifestyle. Adapting a theology of mission from missiologist Leslie Newbigin, George Hunsberger, develops 3 relationships that must occur between the church, gospel and culture:[3] 


According to the Gospel and Our Culture Network (, there are at least 12 hallmarks of the “Missional Church:”

1.  The missional church proclaims the Gospel

2.  The missional church is a community where all members are involved in learning to become disciples of Jesus

3.  The Bible is normative in the missional church’s life

4.  The missional church understands itself as different from the world because of its participation in the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ

5.  The missional church seeks to discern God’s specific missional vocation for the entire community and all of its members

6.  A missional church community is indicated by how Christians behave toward one another

7.  A missional church is a community that practices reconciliation

8.  People within the missional church community hold themselves accountable to one another in love

9.  The missional church practices hospitality

10.  Missional church worship is the central act by which the community celebrates with joy and thanksgiving both God’s presence and God’s promised future

11.  The missional church community has a vital public witness

12.  There is a recognition that the missional church itself is an incomplete expression of the reign of God

Great stuff!  You can see why I’m excited AND burdened to translate this into campus ministry praxis!

Read the whole article here.



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2 Comments leave one →
  1. May 16, 2008 12:00 pm

    These are very helpful comments! And as churches understand how they should be more missional, hopefully they will begin to see that their websites should also include these principles. At Internet Evangelism Day, we have produced a church website design self-assessment tool to help highlight these issues.




  1. Kaleo Church on “What is the Missional Church?” « Sets ‘n’ Service

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