Missional. The new Christian buzz-word. Everybody wants to be missional. And that’s a good thing; after all, it only means that we want to be serious about the Great CoMISSION that Jesus called us to.
But the problem with buzzwords is that eventually everybody adopts them, so they lose their distinctive flavor. Missional is an adjective that was originally framed in contrast to terms like “missions-minded” or “mission-driven.” To give some more substance and clarity to the term “missional,” here is Tim Keller’s explanation. (It’s adapted from his white paper on Missional Church Planting. Apologies in advance to Evan, who is going to cringe at the twist of prepositional phrases. But Ev, come on… you have to admit that a mere preposition can change the whole meaning of a sentence!)
To be missional means that we are a church FOR the city/culture/people where God has placed us.
Some churches are OF the culture. They so embrace the culture that they lose their distinctiveness.
Some churches are AGAINST the culture. They so oppose the culture that they lose their relevance.
Some churches are ABOVE the culture. They so super-spiritualize life that they lose their point of contact.
On the other hand, a church FOR the culture engages the culture in order to transform it.