Clearing the Muddy Waters
So if we've made such a mess of missional, what's the solution?
Here's the best definition I've seen for what missional is so far: living on mission with Jesus. I like that definition, because it correctly implies that being missional isn't about how we "do" church, but implies a way of living 24/7/365. As much as I like that definition, I think it can be even simpler, because "living on mission with Jesus" can still be construed so many ways (the "social" and "proclamational" camps could both lay claim to that definition). So what does it mean to be missional?
One word: obedience.
Look what Jesus says in John 15:1-14,
"I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener. He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful. You are already clean because of the word I have spoken to you. Remain in me, and I will remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me. I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing. If anyone does not remain in me, he is like a branch that is thrown away and withers; such branches are picked up, thrown into the fire and burned. If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be given you. This is to my Father's glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples. As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now remain in my love. If you obey my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have obeyed my Father's commands and remain in his love. I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete. My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends. You are my friends if you do what I command."