What is being missional?

Pastor Alvin Lim, Grace Assembly // September 13, 2018, 1:33 pm


I was at a shopping mall recently and was surprised by the huge number of people standing around, some holding two phones at the same time, charging them with portable chargers.

Then I realised that they were playing the Pokémon Go mobile game and were on a mission to catch Pokémon. I was surprised that they were still passionate about the game even though it was released more than two years ago.

See, we were all made with a mission in mind.

But as humans we tend to run after small, man-made missions when there is no God-sized mission around. Without a revelation of God’s mission – men perish (Proverbs 29:18).

What is the mission of your life? What drives and consumes you? What is worthy enough to spend your lifetime pursuing?

God, the King, invites you to join Him on the most worthy and exciting mission ever embarked called Missio Dei – the mission of God.

In 1952, theologian Karl Barth recovered the concept of Missio Dei as the Trinity leading in mission rather than the Church.

This theological theme gave rise to Darrell Guder’s Missional Church, a classic book addressing the questions of who is God and who is the Church, in the context of Western Christianity’s huge decline. Since then, the book’s revolutionary insights have inspired more than a thousand books on what and how to be missional.

Guder defines mission as “God’s initiative rooted in God’s purposes to restore and heal all creation.” This mission is more than the redemption of the spiritual souls of man, but includes the restoration of all creation as seen in grand narrative of the Bible.

Being missional is not a new church growth methodology but a returning to Scripture on who God is, leading to who the Church is – before jumping to what the Church does.

The Church is conscripted to participate in this mission by caring for humans and the world holistically. This means that the Church does not have the “task” of mission – but is missional in her identity and origins. Missional is the adjective that describes someone or something that participates in this mission.

Being missional is not a new church growth methodology but a returning to Scripture on who God is, leading to who the Church is – before jumping to what the Church does.

Missional theology seeks to create four main paradigm shifts which I will explore below.


1. God is love. God the Trinity is a missionary God (John 20:21-22).

God the Father initiates and leads the redemptive mission of all creation. God the Son is the biblical model and redeemer of humanity. God the Spirit is the empowering teacher in us for the mission of God.

Is your heart constantly captivated by the grace of the Holy God who came down to pursue us to Himself? Are you hearing, seeing and joining God in what He is doing now in the world?

… the Church does not have the “task” of mission – but is missional in her identity and origins.

2. Being missional is more than a task – it is a way of life.

The missional disciple is a beloved child of God, transformed by the Gospel to increasingly live out the reign of God in every aspect of life (Matthew 6:33, Colossians 3:17, 23). The missional disciple embraces the posture, thinking, behaviours, and practices of a missionary in order to serve and reach others with the message of the Gospel.
Who are you serving today? God, the world or self?

3. The greatest witness of the Gospel isn’t found in just missional individuals – but the Gospel lived out in “life-on-life” missional communities (John 13:34-35).

The world is looking for communities that live out the many “one another” commandments found in the New Testament church. Jesus did life for three years with twelve disciples in close community, modelling and teaching them how to love God, one another and the lost. This is still the strategy to reach the world today.

Do you belong to a Christian spiritual family that laughs and cries together with you? One that also overflows with love for the broken beyond the church?

4. The missional church is not contented with mission being just church-based (attractional), events-based (evangelistic programs) or geographical-based (local or overseas missions).

The Church is the people of God bearing the image of the missionary God, birthed to be the primary agent for the mission of God (Matthew 28:18-20).

This means that that the Church exists not for self-benefit, but to reflect the reign of God for the sake of redeeming the world. The Church gathers to be strengthened as a community of love and truth before dispersing to embody the Gospel and Christ in the context of our community, workplaces and the world reaching the least, the lost and the lonely (1 Corinthians 12).

Are you gathering to be strengthened before dispersing to be the salt and light that the world desperately needs?

Are you secretly jaded and disappointed by the man-made mission that you have created for yourself? Get ready for the ride of your life.

Say yes to God to join and establish God’s Kingdom here on Earth and see lives transformed.