What is Missional?
“Missional is a Shift in Thinking.”
(quoted from friendofmissional.org)
Missional Church: Engaging the whole church in the whole mission of God for the whole earth through contextualized incarnational servanthood.
- Mission is about being sent: commissioned to particular responsibilities by one with the authority to do so.
- Christian mission – discipleship – is being sent into the world by Jesus to serve as He did with the same Kingdom vision and agenda as agents in the mission of God.
- Missional describes the journey of discipleship; a vision towards which the whole body of Christ is called.
- Missional church is church shaped by and oriented around the mission to which Christ has commissioned His followers. A journey or transition towards increasing corporate maturity of discipleship involving ….
- From sending a few out from the church … to all the church sent together as the body of Christ into the world.
- From uncritical consumers of culture … to contextualized participants in culture yet with proper critique so as not be of the world.
“We have ironically done what is seemingly impossible. We have inverted the dictum of Jesus: we are of the world but not in it. We have become ’both captured and intimidated by our culture.’” Don Posterski, World Vision.
- From church for the churched (a refuge for serving ourselves) … to the whole church as an active and transformational Kingdom presence in each culture, equipping one another for serving people and societies in the world.
- From formulaic and institutionalized programs … to servant, incarnational relationships of word, deed, sign and prayer.
“We have ironically done what is seemingly impossible. We have inverted the dictum of Jesus: we are of the world but not in it. We have become ‘both captured and intimidated by our culture.'” Don Posterski, World Vision.
MICN aims to facilitate the creative thinking that leaders need to enable multicultural international churches to be active participants in God’s mission in the diverse and transient contexts in which they live and serve.
- Missional is not a model or a program or a method. Missional is a way of thinking, a set of perspectives, an orientation, a set of questions, a vision for the Kingdom contextualized. Every context is unique and in each creative wisdom is essential for missional church presence and action in the world.
- Missional is intentional and proactive engagement with the full implications of Jesus being Lord of heaven and earth and ruling to fulfill all that the Kingdom represents. In this way missional shapes thinking and practices for every facet of church life and calls the whole church (as a whole body and not just a few individuals) to contextualized servanthood in the world through Word/Gospel, Deed, Sign and Prayer.
- Missional is a journey towards rather than something that is or is not. No church has ever been fully missional nor will be before Jesus returns. Too many human factors disrupt and turn us aside from the journey. So missional is a resolve to stay on the journey, to keep asking the questions, to stay grounded theologically so that good practice may evolve, to be constantly critiquing culture and ourselves, to keep on exploring what God is doing to fulfill His Kingdom promises in every place and figuring out each church’s particular calling so as to be His agents for His purposes – for persons, for communities, for families, for everything.
What is an International Church?
International churches (ICs) are those churches around the world that primarily serve people of various nationalities (expatriates ) and church backgrounds living outside their passport (home) countries. They are also increasingly including more nationals. The main characteristics are …
- They function in a language (mostly English) not normally spoken in the host country. Usually, there is a significant proportion of the church who have English as a second language.
- A majority of people are from other countries – expatriates / people of the global diaspora / foreign passport holders. (In some major cities, the growing numbers of nationals who have been internationalized through substantial overseas experience has resulted in some international churches with a majority of nationals who are culturally more at home here than in the national church. In some others, it is illegal for nationals to attend.)
- A cultural flavouring and rich diversity, with strong global and global-nomad perspectives, which reflects the mix of nationalities and cultures involved. Typically, multi-national, multi-cultural, multi-denominational. They are very intentional in preserving a focus on this diversity with a primary concern to serve (or minister to) expatriates.
Other typical characteristics include …
- There are at least fifteen hundred international churches across the globe. They can be found in nearly all major cities, especially where English is not the main language. Most major and capital cities have several international churches.
- They are growing into their God sized appointments around the world understanding their unique placement and therefore increasingly designating personnel, funds, strategic planning towards reaching least reach people groups.
- They are usually interdenominational, though a proportion are denominationally based. Denominational international churches may not always have the same breadth of multi-denominational expression
- They tend to have a high turnover of people as people transition in and out of the country.
- They tend to have fewer retirees (and a younger leadership) and fewer post high school students as retirees usually go back to their home country. Otherwise they are multi-generational.
- They range from very small gatherings with volunteer leadership through to large mega-churches with multiple sites multiple pastoral staff.
- They have a concern to reach out to and serve the wider expatriate community and, depending on the local context, often also have various roles in supporting the national church and contributing to the well being of the city in which they are placed.
- The practical challenges of living far from home country tend to be a significant part of the international church agenda.
- There are English speaking international churches in English speaking countries. The emphasis in these is on cultural diversity and the concerns typical of expatriates.
- Some international churches may have a majority of nationals but are very intentional in preserving a focus on cultural diversity with a primary concern to minister to expatriates.
- Expatriate churches that serve a single ethnic, national or language group. These too can be found in most cities across the world. They are not usually included in what we mean by international church. Ethnocentricity may be a challenge to overcome on the missional journey.
- Necessarily churches that include the word “international” in their name who do so to reflect the international character of the Kingdom but are not international churches as described here.
- National churches that include amongst their services an English speaking congregation. The church may not be international but the congregation may reflect the main features of an international church – language, passport and cultural diversity.
From the MICN website: http://micn.org/about-us/ic-definition/