I wish I had a dime for every time I’ve heard the word “mission” or one its cognates over the last 10 years. I would retire to Vermont, where I would live in a mission-dime funded mansion, writing books and blogs pertaining to the necessity of missional living.
The term “missional” is even more fun than the word “mission.” We’ve always had “mission” in our language, but “missional” is like the cool HD version of that old familiar word, completely refurbished with a bedazzlement of bling. You know you’re hot when you grow an ‘-al,’ become an adjective, and every church leader is talking about you.
“Mission” is a noun. Here are a couple definitions:
1) An important task or duty that is assigned.
2) An important goal or purpose that is accompanied by strong conviction.
“Missional” is an adjective. Simply defined:
1) Of or pertaining to a mission.
Missional has become a leading buzz-word in Christian circles over the last few decades. I just glanced at the bookshelf near my desk and in 11 seconds I found books written by Christian leaders titled Think Missional, Missional Map-Making, Missional Renaissance, and Breaking the Missional Code. If I was not a mature man and father of three who just turned 32 years old, I may be inclined to roll my eyes and say something like “missional smishional.”
We have missional churches and missional communities, where we seek to foster missional mindsets, missional perspectives, and missional DNA, so that we can engage missional focuses and missional realities, as we live, move, and have our being missional-ly, because as true Christians our identity is missional in nature. That sentence you just read would preach if not for the over-excessive use of the word “missional,” which every Christian has heard, fewer understand, and the smallest percentage actually exemplify.
Why is “mission” so important? Why has it grown a few letters and become an adjective? Why are we being inundated with the admonishment to live it?
The mission is urgent because the message is clear.
I’m preaching on Mark 6:7-13 this morning. In this passage Jesus releases the disciples on…wait for it…mission. He gives them authority, sends them out, and warns them to stay focused. They are launched out with a message, a message that is clear and urgent. They carry with them the gospel message, and their proclamation to all who hear them is “repent.” Their message is undoubtedly the same message Jesus began his ministry with in Mark 1:15: “The kingdom of God is at hand, repent and believe the gospel.”
To repent is to turn around, to go the opposite direction, to turn away from something and face something else. I believe in this context the first “missional” agents were preaching: “turn from yourselves to Jesus.” Their message is clear: Jesus is the only way to salvation.
The mission is critical. I’ll take all the talk about mission and add to the dialogue, because as Christians we have to learn how to live it. The mission is urgent because the message is clear: salvation is found in Jesus alone.