What is Missional?


Everyone is talking about being missional. So what does it mean to be missional and why does mission matter?

To begin with it is impossible to grasp the true heart and soul of Christianity without understanding the mission of the church. Christians have been sent as missionaries to share the Gospel in our present culture and to fulfill the Great Commission. The church is rooted in the concept of the Missio Dei, which recognizes that there is one mission and it is God’s mission. The Missio Dei is a Latin theological term that can be translated as "Mission of God." The word missio literally means sent. The church is not an end in itself; the church is sent into the world to fulfill the mission of God. Robert Webber reminds us, “The calling of the church in every culture is to be mission.”

God is a Missionary God

To understand what it means to be a part of the mission of God begins with understanding that God is a missionary God. The very being of God is the basis for the missionary enterprise. God is a sending God, with a desire to see humankind and creation reconciled, redeemed, and healed. God’s mission can be seen throughout the pages of the Bible and history. Nowhere is the mission of God better understood than in the person and work of Jesus Christ. John 3:16 tells us that “God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.” 

Many Christians and churches teach and preach that missions are something we support or do, such as sending or supporting missionaries in other countries. This was the case 20 to 30 years ago. However, in the 21st century the mission field has come to us. We live in a post Christian world where people simply don’t know the Gospel anymore. Therefore we are all called to be missional and share in the mission of God. Ed Stetzer says, “Being Missional means actually doing mission right where you are. Missional means adopting the posture of a missionary, learning and adapting to the culture around you while remaining biblically sound.”

Mission Shift

There is a healthy shift happening in the church toward a missional mindset. In Breaking the Missional Code, Ed Stetzer explains how the church has shifted to missional thinking in the following way: 

From programs to processes 

From demographics to discernment 

From models to missions 

From attractional to incarnational 

From uniformity to diversity 

From professional to passionate 

From seating to sending 

From decisions to disciples 

From additional to exponential 

From monuments to movements