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Why the Church Should Stop Using the Word “Missional”

You may already know that I have a bit of an aversion to Christian-ese and labels. I find that all too often, us Christians are so quick to throw around buzz-words and discuss the next hot-button issue, meanwhile abandoning the issues that really need discussing.

Yesterday, I asked some of my fellow Rejects on Facebook and Twitter to share with me a few of the buzz-words that they too are sick of hearing (as a side note, if you aren’t following me on Facebook or Twitter, what’s up with that? No worries, let’s just kiss and make up).

You all had some precious gems to add to the list of over-used Christian terms, things like:

“community”

“intentional”

“doing life”

“love on”

“emergent”

“social justice”

…and my personal favorite, “missional.”

I could spend an entire post writing about each of the terms listed, but “missional,” in particular, really gets under my skin…and for good reason.

The very word missional means to simply be missionary minded.  Wikipedia says this:

“[Missional living] is a Christian term that describes a missionary lifestyle; adopting the posture, thinking, behaviors, and practices of a missionary in order to engage others with the Gospel message.”

Here is where I take issue...We need a new term in order to adopt “the posture, thinking, behaviors, and practices of a missionary, in order to engage others with the Gospel?”

Now, on the one hand, I understand why new terms spring up. Ideas and vision take shape. People become excited about said vision, and in an attempt to grow the vision and share the vision, they create new terminology to better articulate the vision.

The problem, however, is that this is not a new vision. Not even close. Remember that little ol’ passage at the end of the book of Matthew? It goes something like this:

“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 then in Acts 1:8, we are told,

“But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.”

Bible commentators understand this to mean very plainly, that we are to witness to those close to us, closer to us, and closest to us.” The ends of the earth, Samaria, Judea and Jerusalem. Basically, our life is a mission, wherever we are.

So, while I understand the sentiment behind the term “missional,” I find it to be yet another Christian term that muddies the waters. If we know that the Bible clearly directs us to live a life resembling that of a missionary, or better yet, to actually be missionaries, why do we need a new catch phrase?

Christian catch phrases are often redundant and while they echo the heart of scripture, they also add an often not so-scriptural element: Us.

Man, when we get our hands all over God’s vision, sometimes it comes out looking drastically different than He intended. A pastor I knew used to say, “We can’t make it happen, but we sure can mess it up.” So true.

More than that, I find Christian buzz-words to add to the clutter and the noise that the church is making. More labels, less action, it seems.

“Oh, my church is missional. I belong to a missional community. Missions is where it’s at! Missions!!!” (Hopefully no one is actually just going around yelling “missions,” but you never know). But, what does all of that mean to those who are yet to know Christ?

People don’t need a catch phrase. They need the power of the Living God.

The church doesn’t need more terminology. It needs a people desperately hungry for the things of God.

Words hold power, but action changes lives.

Jesus didn’t just talk the talk. He is the Way.

I know that this idea won’t be particularly popular. I know that many might disagree with me and argue that if the idea is scriptural and churches are enacting it, then where’s the harm? I also know that there are “missional” churches out there making huge impacts for God’s Kingdom. I get it.

Yet, I long for the day when the profundity and simplicity of the Gospel is enough, because guess what? It’s enough. We do not need to add to Jesus. We only need to live for Him.

Do you agree or disagree? How do you feel about the word “missional,” or any of the other buzz words listed? What would you add as another example of a perhaps unnecessary Christian term?