Home > Brian's Blogs, Missional Church > Missional Renaissance (4): Internal to External

Missional Renaissance (4): Internal to External

Today we continue in Reggie McNeal’s Missional Renaissance and discuss the first missional shift: from and internal to an external focus.

Here is Reggie’s grand summary of this missional shift, and why it is different from merely “doing something” in the community:

When most people think about going missional…they picture shifting ministries from an internal to an external focus, meaning some kind of community activity or involvement.  Unfortunately, many church leaders think that simply their engagement in some kind of community service makes them missional.  But that’s not the case.  That would reduce what it means to be missional to just being another program or methodological approach to “doing church.”  It misses the point.

The shift from an internal to an external focus signals more than an emphasis or an activity; it is a tectonic shift.  It involves changing the very understanding of what the church is, not just what it does, though that changes dramatically as well.  Moving to an external focus pushes the church from doing missions as some second-mile project into meing on mission as a way of life. (p. 42)

Here are a couple of points to flesh this out:

From church-centric to kingdom-focused.  Traditional church centers most/all of their activities on the church itself (usually in the church building).  In many respects, “an entire parallel culture was created so that Christains wouldn’t have to venture out much into that world” (p. 43).  But this shift moves focus away from the institutional church to the kingdom of God.  “They don’t bring people to churhch; they bring the churhc to people” (p. 45).

From destination to connector.  The church is not the ultimate destination for Christians, the kingdom is.  “The church is a connector, linking people to the kingdom life that God has for them” (p. 45)

From attractional to incarnational.  Reggie acknowledges much good (and even necessary) in attractional.  But, “we’ve spent so much time in the attractional church trying to get the community to connect to us; now we need to learn how to connect to the community” (p. 53).

From member culture to missionary culture.  “The member culture views society as a series of silos: politics, business, education, arts, media, technology, health care, social sector, and so forth  All of them are separate.  The church culture has developed it own silo – a parallel culture in many respects – complete with schools, businesses, educational institutions, sports clubs, travel associations, and social agencies…The missional church views the church’s position in society very differently.  It understands that God has his people – his missionaries – deployed across all domains of culture” (p. 55)

This is getting long, just a couple more that are self-explanatory:

From worship services to service as worship!

From reaching and assimilating to connecting and deploying.

From congregations to missional communities.

The point in all this is that the missional shift is a major shift in how the church views itself.  This leads to dramatic changes in what the church does.

In my next post I’ll outline Reggie’s practical thoughts on moving from internal to external.  It will be very “rubber meets the road.”


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