What is missional?
There's been a ton of debate in recent years on what exactly missional is or is not. Although not the case for everyone, there are basically two camps: social and proclamational.
Those in the social camp claim that being missional equates with good works, especially in "the community" or in "the world." There's been a groundswell of awareness growing about problems such as sex trafficking, the need for clean water, homelessness, poverty, and injustice. All of these things are symptoms of sin. Being missional, therefore, is working to eradicate these things from our society and world. The rub is this–for many, we do these things without mentioning Jesus. The problem, therefore, with the social form of missional is that it helps meet felt needs without working toward addressing the greatest need: the need for forgiveness of sin through Jesus Christ.
Those in the proclamation camp claim that being missional equates with proclaiming the gospel of Jesus. The most obvious place this happens is during a worship service from the "pulpit." Being missional is declaring forgiveness and grace through Jesus' death and resurrection. Other things, such as meeting felt needs, are seen as good but are not part of being missional. Some in the proclamation camp would even call those in the social camp guilty of proclaiming a "social gospel" and trying to bring heaven to earth. The rub, however, is this–we're mostly preaching to the choir. With exceptions, a great majority of churches aren't reaching people who don't know Jesus. Their growth is by transfer–Christians coming from other churches. Even when new people do come, the proclamation is often in a vacuum–without a strong relationship with someone in the church, the chances of newbies leaving is pretty high. The problem, therefore, with a purely proclamational form of missional is that it proclaims the gospel without embodying the gospel.
There are voices calling for a hybrid, which is certainly an improvement. Yet, it's still overly complicated. I'm coming to the conclusion that people don't need more books and conferences on being missional. Heck, all the debate is a sign that "being missional" may be on the way out in years to come (I may be wrong). So what's the solution?
I'll post on that later this week. Tomorrow, however, I'll post about missional vs. attractional when it comes to church. Until then, what are your thoughts?