Buzzword Buzzkill: Missional


You’ve heard the word. You’ve probably used it yourself a few times. Missional. But what does it really mean?

I’m not going to tell you. Instead, go read/watch/listen to what these folks have to say!

Julie Clawson: Missions vs. Missional

Andrew Jones: Is Mission the Mother of Theology?

Anthony Smith has an article coming out soon (sometime?) on the meaning of “missional.” I look forward to others reading that and engaging with it.

This is pretty funny (HT: Jonathan Brink):

I’ve been trying to start a meme on Twitter using the hashtag #missionalmonday. Hopefully in the future we’ll see more tweets on Mondays from folks engaging “missional.”

I have some other thoughts of my own on “missional” brewing, but I don’t have time to fully articulate them here now … So I’ll just give you my premise (in 140 characters or less):

“Missional” will replace “evangelical” as the primary adjective for “Christian” in this next era of the Church.

What do you think? Agree? Disagree? Let’s discuss … (see you in the comments)



Posted on 07-05-2009


  1. Jonathan Brink says:

    July 5th, 2009 at 5:44 pm

    I think it’s possible. But it will be a slow, painful process.

  2. Brit Windel says:

    July 5th, 2009 at 5:46 pm

    Hey man, love it. what would #missionalmonday look like? as for as ideas one could tweet themes about?

    And i think that missional has been taking root for quite awhile. I know at my University we were using the term a lot about 3-5 years ago! would love to hear some more of your thoughts

  3. Mike says:

    July 5th, 2009 at 6:25 pm

    Agree, with the caveat that in the end they’re both just words, and unless accompanied by lives/actions/ethics/practices they are meaningless.

  4. Jon Shriver says:

    July 5th, 2009 at 6:31 pm

    As long as it doesn’t come to mean the same, or have the same negative overtones as Evangelical.

  5. Blake Huggins says:

    July 5th, 2009 at 9:06 pm

    I agree. In fact, I said something similar over a year ago. But unfortunately, I think it will happen much slower than most of us would like.

  6. Steve K. says:

    July 5th, 2009 at 9:17 pm


    I don’t think I read your post from a year ago, but reading it just now I think you’ve said just about everything I wanted to say about the shift from “evangelical” (and the emphasis on one-dimensional “saving of souls for eternity”) to “missional” (a participatory life on mission with God). I may still try to put it in my own words at some point, but for now your post is an excellent start! In fact, I’d say it is perhaps the first shot across the bow …

    Steve K.

  7. Blake Huggins says:

    July 5th, 2009 at 9:42 pm

    I look forward to your unpacking it in the future!

    The shift from one dimension to many (what you note in the parentheses) is key, I think. It sounds so simple and almost boring to a lot of us, but I think we’ve fail to let it truly permeate everything. That’s why I think it will take a while (and maybe even draw some casualties). There are still a lot of tacit practices and theological points that we haven’t really began to critically evaluate and rethink (evangelism being the primary one, IMO). It may take a complete conceptual overhaul before we really make the deeper shift; we’ll see.

  8. Jeff S. says:

    July 6th, 2009 at 10:17 am

    I think the problem is that people still see “missional” as a segment/compartment of their life…they do this “God Thing” and then go back to their regular life, constantly shifting between secular and holy, secular and holy. I think if we really put on the “mind of Christ”, our lives will be holistically and organically “missional” – there is no division – and thus the name becomes useless.

  9. stephen ernst says:

    July 17th, 2009 at 10:43 am

    I am intentional about hating buzzwords :-). How u been man? Hope to hear from ya’…

  10. Dan says:

    August 5th, 2009 at 5:52 pm

    If what you mean by ‘missional’ is anything like what Christopher Wright wrote about in “The Mission of God”, then we can only hope for that Christians will be described as that sort of person, persons who participate in furthering the mission of God.

  11. jeremy says:

    August 6th, 2009 at 12:10 am

    I think one thing that needs to be addressed is the difference between “missional” and simply just conducting what I call “domestic evangelism.” Some people seem to think that “missional” means “domestic evangelism” or simply going door to door “witnessing” with gospel tracts in your own neighborhood or community like a street evangelist. The reason they see it this way is because of the concept of “being a missionary in your home town” is what people think of when they hear the word “missional.” Evangelicals can ultimately see “missionary” as “share the dualistic, 4 step systematic gospel with your neighbor instead of just Africa” and so this concept begins that being “missional” means to simply preach and evangelize the same way we’ve been doing for years (which has been proven ineffective) to your own kind.

    The problem is of course that 1) this spawns homogeneous affinity groups and ignores multiculturalism and 2) with living missional, we live out the scripture in a holistic manner. Instead of the gospel message being dualistic, individualistic, and separate part of our lives, gospel IS our lives manifested holistically.

    I think my definition of “missional living” would be: Living with the intentional mission of the Kingdom of God as He seeks to redeem and restore His fallen creation through the grace offered by sacrifice of Jesus on the cross and to invite others to embrace the holistic gospel that Christ brought and by believing that God is inviting all of us to be a part of His story of reconciliation and redemption of this broken world. God is looking down in his blessed creation of humanity with is arms open wide saying “It is finished. I love you. I want to forgive you and show you grace and I want you to work to restore what I created to you and love this world I created until I return to ultimately re-create it and bring us together. Will you join me?”

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