What is the first thing that comes to mind when you think of missional churches? Is it cool young pastors with a few tattoos and unkempt hair? Did images of someone artsy pop up in your head?
There are countless things that probably came to mind. “Missional church” is a concept without one clear definition and readily applied to countless ministry activities. Although this is the case, the mission of the church isn’t hard to come by. It comes directly from the command of Jesus who said: “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age” (Matt. 28:19–20).
Jesus speaks of going, evangelizing, making disciples and planting churches that plant churches to continue the process. Therefore, the mission of the church is nothing less than to bring the entire world to Christian faith and maturity. A missional church must strategize how to carry out the mission to today’s increasingly non-Christian culture.
To this end there are 10 marks Gerry Breshears and I propose that characterize a missional church, one that is on God’s mission to make disciples of all nations. (Many of these marks are adapted from the book Missional Church).
1. A Missional Church Is a Biblical One
A missional church has a deep trust in and affection for the Bible. It seeks to anchor all of its teaching and life in the storyline of sacred Scripture.
Because it’s biblical, a missional church contends with grace and humility for those parts of Scripture that are most essential to the gospel of Jesus Christ. In our day this means we contend for the doctrines older creeds (e.g., the Apostles’ Creed and Nicene Creed) defined, but also for biblical answers to newer assaults on biblical truth.
Lastly, the Bible reveals God’s plan of redemption through Jesus Christ. This is why missional churches should always, passionately and uncompromisingly be about Jesus as God, Savior, Lord, Hero and Friend.
2. A Missional Church Practices and Preaches Repentance
Since missional churches are biblical churches, they have a high view of preaching and teaching. In teaching God’s Word, leaders of a missional church regularly call believing sinners, unbelieving sinners and especially religious people to repentance.
Missional churches should not only preach repentance, but their leaders should set an ongoing example for the church by openly confessing their ongoing struggles and failures. The hope is to establish a culture of humility and honest repentance in the church for others to follow.
3. A Missional Church Goes into Culture
A missional church knows God has sent it on mission to a time, a place and a people. Paul stated this very fact to the Athenian court of Mars Hill in Acts 17, explaining how God not only created us, but he also determined when and where we would live. Missional churches know this and pay careful attention to where God has sent them.