The Tension Of Being Missional

I come across pastors and leaders that describe their churches as being "missional" and that God has brought people into their communities that need to be reached. They have made a decision to pull back on their global mission support to help their people "be missionaries right here."

This begs the question, "Why are so many missional Christians uninvolved in God's global mission?" As the missional conversation continues and deepens, what has occurred that has led to our blindness to the lost world around us?

There are a couple of reasons I think this has happened:

1) In rediscovering God's mission, many have only discovered its personal dimensions.

I don't mean they have somehow localised mission into their interior, "private" life-- that would make little sense. Rather, the encouragement for each person to be on mission (to be "missional") has trended toward a personal obligation to personal settings, rather than toward a global obligation to advance God's kingdom among all the nations.

"Missional" has merged with privatised Christianity to serve as the reason for personal projects carried out in personal spheres. This is not bad, necessarily. But when the missional impulse is not expanded to include God's global mission, it results in believers moved only to minister in their own Jerusalem's with no mind toward their Judea's, Samaria's, and uttermost parts of the earth (Acts 1:8).

2) In responding to God's mission, many have wanted to be more mission-shaped and have therefore made everything "mission."

Missions historian Stephen Neil, responding to a similar surge in mission interest (the missio dei movement of the 1950s and following), explained it this way: "If everything is mission then nothing is mission." Neil's fear was that the focus would shift from global evangelization (often called "missions") to societal transformation (often called "mission"). He was right.