Friday, March 13, 2009

Why be a Missional Church?

For many years most statistical data has stated that 40% of Americans attend church on any given Sunday. More recently researchers have questioned this percentage and believe it to be overstated. It seems that people tend to answer survey questions by either giving answers that they think the questioners want or that are considered to be right. Simply, different questions yield different results. For example, in a survey you might ask, “What did you do last weekend?” listing for the person a number of possible activities, including church-going. This will yield a very different response than if you asked, “Did you attend church last Sunday?”

Dave Olson, director of church planting for the Evangelical Covenant Church, among many others, has now concluded that the percentage of Americans attending church on any given Sunday is less than 20% and will decline to less than 12% by 2050.

I don’t know if the correct number is 40% or 20%. But my “gut” tells me it is closer to the 20% number. This is a reminder that the church can’t operate like a Motel 6 and just leave the light on for people. We must move our ministry outside the four walls of the church because the vast majority of people aren’t coming to us.

Here are some of the best descriptions that I have found of what a missional church is trying to do:

1) exploring and rediscovering what it means to be Jesus' sent people as both our identity and vocation

2) willing and ready to be Christ's people in any situation and place

3) engaging with the culture (in the world) without being absorbed by the culture (not of the world)

4) becoming intentionally indigenous

5) aligning all our activities around the mission of God

6) seeking to put the good of our neighbor over our own

7) being desperately dependent on prayer

8) being orthodox in our message of the gospel and scripture, but culturally relevant in our methods and practice of ministry

The attractional model church does not seem to be working. When will we wake up and become a missional church?

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