Alan Hirsch seeks to provide clarity in the midst of mounting confusion over the word missional. After stating that missional does not mean emerging or seeker-sensitive, and is more than social justice and church growth, he offers his understanding of missional.
A proper understanding of missional begins with recovering a missionary understanding of God. By his very nature God is a “sent one” who take the initiative to redeem his creation. This doctrine, known as missio Dei-the sending of God-is causing many to redefine their understanding of the church. Because we are the “sent” people of God, the church is the instrument of God’s mission in the world. As things stand, many people see it the other way around. They believe mission is an instrument of the church; a means by which the church is grown. Although we frequently say “the church has a mission,” according to missional theology a more correct statement would be “the mission has a church” (Leadership, Fall 2008, 22).
I completely agree. Missional has been co-opted and turned into the next emphasis, a new technique, or some slick program. Instead, missional has to do with theology – our understanding of God; who he is, what he does, and his ultimate purpose. A clear understanding and use of missional is essential, if the church is to be God’s church. The church needs to hear anew that God is a sending God, and thus, the church is a missional people. She exists for God’s mission.