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Is the Missional Movement Missing the Point?
by Brandon Hatmaker on October 10th, 2012

Bear with me, this won't take long.

I woke up early this morning to work on a new training for an upcoming conference. I'll be speaking primarily to pastors seeking to turn their church inside out, hoping to make missionaries out of consumers.

And when I say missionaries... I mean people who aren't afraid to invite a neighbor to dinner. Someone willing to program into their lives one whole day a month to "loving" other people and another day to "bless" a stranger. Someone who can actually cross the street and ring a doorbell with a plate of cookies (or bottle of wine).

Wait. Is that what I really mean? Does that define an American missionary? Could this really be all there is to the modern Missional Movement.

The answer is no. There's more to it than that. The truth is however, that we've fallen so far from a biblical understanding of "living on mission", that we've had to reduce our instruction to the lowest form of Sentness. We do this to help baby-step people into their mission field. Because, well... because people don't really want to do this.

But I'm NOT convinced that we DON'T know how to make friends or to be a blessing (yes, that was a double negative). I'm pretty sure we know how to be nice. We know how to be a friend. We know how to not be selfish. It's just that we are.

After working on my session this morning, I read this BLOG that my wife wrote yesterday from Haiti. For some perspective, do yourself a favor and read it. Try not to start making excuses for yourself and dismiss it half way through... just read it (sorry, I should give you more credit than that). Be honest with God. Take a look at the church you see in America and the kind of "hope" we hope for. See the difference?

Is it possible we're missing the point?

If you've read my book Barefoot Church, you know I'm not a guy who just likes to deconstruct the church. I love the church. I will fight for the church. There is always hope for her. But it starts with repentance and transparency about where we truly are, not an illusion of where we think we are.

Today, I'm simply peeling back another layer of scales off my own eyes. While there are amazing leaders and churches out there who are truly teaching and living a holistic gospel and who are making disciples who live on mission, it's still the vast minority. I'm thrilled that we are in a moment of time that we're entertaining new and innovative thinking in regards to mission... but as we start leaning that way... my prayer is that we identify a true biblical mission centered on Christ and His Gospel, one that loves mercy and seeks justice, and one that doesn't settle with just being "nice".

All this to say... keep going. Keep teaching people to cross the street and cross the tracks. Encourage random acts of kindness and city-wide service projects. They are necessary steps in getting us off center and moving us towards biblical discipleship and true mission. But don't stop there. Paint a bigger picture from the beginning. Help people know their trajectory. Point them towards a Gospel that saves, a Gospel that transforms, and a Gospel that renews a very broken and desperate world in need of Good News.


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7 Comments

Phillip Fletcher - October 10th, 2012 at 9:27 AM
Well said Brandon.
Brandon Hatmaker - October 10th, 2012 at 11:57 PM
Thanks Phillip ;)
Mindy W - October 10th, 2012 at 10:03 AM
Thank you for the encouragement. Just what I needed to hear.
John - October 11th, 2012 at 5:07 PM
Great word Brandon. Until "missional" begins to describe 'who we are' rather than 'what we do' we'll always be trying to get people to 'do missional things'. When the things we do begins simply to reflect our identity and self-perception, we won't have to come up with things to tell people to do.
Nick Barnes - October 12th, 2012 at 2:32 AM
Awesome
Landrum Leavell - May 12th, 2014 at 9:01 PM
The word "random" always gives me angst. Followers don't do random. Does not Missional equal intentional?
Good word. Loved your book and appreciated your bride's honesty at Catalyst
Chris Branscome - May 12th, 2014 at 9:11 PM
Thanks for this reminder. I used to throw around the phrase "Preach the Gospel wherever you go, and use words when necessary," but then I realized at some point that I was using it as an escape clause to get out of having to actually talk about Jesus eventually. I'm helping to plant a church this year, and we are some of the people to which you refer, who are trying to stir people up to be on mission. We have to be modeling what that looks like, and as you said, it's more than just being nice. Thanks for being another voice saying what needs to be said.
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