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September 22, 2016

The Power of Missional Engagement

By Daniel Im

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Navigating Towards a Missional Engagement

There’s a debate between my friends and I regarding which navigation app is the best—Apple Maps or Waze. Just so you know, I’m perfectly comfortable with Siri giving me directions. However, I have friends that swear Waze is the best app, and they have demonstrated their loyalty as many of them rank in the top 1% of Waze users—also known as “wazers.”

If you aren’t familiar with Waze, Waze, “is the world’s largest community-based traffic and navigation app.” Waze acts as a social networking traffic app by sharing real-time traffic and road information, which provides up-to-date information about road and traffic conditions that enhance drivers’ travel. I have to admit, there have been times that Waze has helped me tremendously by giving me information about a wreck and providing an alternative route. But I still find myself many times going to Siri and asking for directions.

I bring this debate up because it reminded me of the whole “missional” and “missional church” debate that exists. Since “missional” became part of the church’s contemporary vocabulary, there’s been an ongoing debate about what it means to be missional or what is the best way to missionally engage our world and communities. In fact, Craig Van Gelder and Dwight Zscheile in their book, The Missional Church in Perspective, outline various ways Christians from a host of perspectives have navigated toward a greater missional engagement.

Although there are various ways and routes people advocate for navigating a church towards missional engagement, I do believe there are some common mile-markers that we will all see while moving towards the intended destination of missional engagement. In our latest New Churches webinar with JR Woodward, author of Creating a Missional Culture and The Church as Movement, JR shared with Ed and I some of the foundations of his missional thinking. During our time, JR mentioned at least three elements of his missional thought that I believe serve as common mile markers for those navigating towards a missional engagement.

Gospel and Kingdom

According to JR, there are Christians and Christian groups that have an inefficient or narrow view of the gospel. For instance, a narrow view of the gospel can occur when a group focuses solely on spiritually personalizing the gospel—saving people from their sins—without any interest or desire to engage the needs of the city. In addition, a narrow gospel can occur when a group works solely on social justice projects in communities and cities effected by the deteriorating effects of sin, injustice, and marginalization without the desire or impulse to share the good news of Christ’s death, burial, and resurrection. When a church or Christian organization embraces a narrow view or inefficient view of the gospel, it leads to a narrow and inefficient missional engagement.

What’s the cause of narrow views of the gospel? According to JR, they are caused by an imbalanced theology. Using the above examples, those who solely focus on the personal dimension of the gospel seem to be more captivated by the theology of Romans that espouses, “everyone who calls upon the name of the Lord shall be saved” (Rom 10:13). For those who concentrate solely on social justice issues, it seems that they are more gripped by the theology of the in-breaking of the kingdom of God, which is embodied in the person and ministry of Jesus. Both theologies are equally valid and important. Yet when one is prioritized over the other, it leads to theological imbalance and missional incompleteness. Therefore, navigating towards a missional engagement will come to see gospel and kingdom as symbiotic elements that form one mile-marker.

JR asserts that when we understand that God, in Christ, inaugurated the kingdom of God and is working towards its consummation, it brings a clarity and robustness to the gospel and its implications in our lives and in our engagement. As there are multiple dimensions to the already-but-not-yet kingdom of God, there are multiple dimensions to the gospel of Jesus Christ that saves people from their sins and transfers them into the kingdom. Thus, because the gospel and the kingdom work in harmony there will be personal, social, cosmic, spiritual, and material implications for how Christians engage the world.

To read the final two common mile markers for navigating towards missional engagement—click here for the full video and post.

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Tweetables:

  • An inefficient or narrow view of the gospel leads to a narrow and ineffective missional engagement.
  • Narrow views of the gospel are caused by an imbalanced theology.
  • Navigating towards a missional engagement will come to see gospel and kingdom as symbiotic elements that form one mile-marker.
  • Understanding the kingdom of God brings a robustness to the gospel & its implications in our lives & in our missional engagement.
  • When Jesus saves an individual, He not only saves them from themselves but He saves them to Himself and His kingdom.
  • Mission must be approached more communally. @dreamawakener
  • Missional communities support, foster, and fuel personal missional engagement.
  • Sometimes the missional discussion can become so technical and mechanical that it ceases to be practical or applicable.
  • How simple can navigating towards missional engagement be? If you have time to eat, then you have time for mission. @dreamawakener

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Daniel Im

Daniel Im (@danielsangi) is the Founder of NewChurches.com and the Director of Church Multiplication for LifeWay Christian Resources. He is a Teaching Pastor at The Fellowship, a multisite church in Nashville. He is the author of No Silver Bullets: Five Small Shifts that will Transform Your Ministry, and co-author of Planting Missional Churches: Your Guide to Starting Churches that Multiply (2nd ed) with Ed Stetzer. He also co-hosts the New Churches Q&A Podcast, the 5 Leadership Questions Podcast, and a brand new podcast with his wife on marriage and parenting called the IMbetween Podcast. He has an M.A. in Global Leadership and has served and pastored in church plants and multisite churches ranging from 100 people to 50,000 people in Vancouver, Ottawa, Montreal, Korea, Edmonton, and Nashville. Visit Danielim.com to learn more.

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