J.R. Woodward and Mark Lau Branson Discuss Misconceptions of “Missional”
JRW—Alan Roxbourgh has said, “The word ‘missional’ seems to have traveled the remarkable path of going from obscurity to banality in only one decade.” I would agree, which is why I appreciate how you take an informed understanding of the missional conversation to bring fresh imagination for church planting.
What would you say are the biggest misconceptions about the “missional” church?
MLB—The term is used to describe sending more missionaries, or restocking the food pantry, or participating in civic activities, or fostering the arts. Some of these activities are good. But overwhelmingly, churches and planters embody the late modern practices of strategic planning, cultural hegemony, commodification, and consumer marketing.
So, when I hear or read stories and strategies that include those elements, I know they have not been shaped in the new habits that Newbigin and others have advanced. The theological praxis of discerning and participating in the always-already initiatives of God in a particular place is profoundly different than the common attempts to deliver religious goods, services, and concepts to what we assume are generic neighbors.
God is more contextually engaged than we can imagine! Craig Brown and AJ Swoboda note how they were awakened by neighbors. That needs to center missional life.