As the first order of business this morning, we passed a recommendation from the Permanent Committee on Theology that offers a definition of a “missional church.” I think this one is worth offering in its entirety:
Our denomination wants to clarify for its member churches who we are and what we do as the United States becomes a mission field that is larger, more spiritually diverse and more antagonistic to the Gospel than ever before.
The term “missional” has become common and therefore highly nuanced. We desire to define missional in a simple and specific way so that each EPC church can commit to a unified, obedient pursuit of the expansion of the Kingdom of God.
1. A missional church grasps that God is a missionary God and that “it is not so much that God has a mission for His church in the world, but that God has a Church for His mission in the world.” (J. Andrew Kirk, What is Mission? Theological Explorations)
2. A missional church believes that the mission of God is rooted unalterably in the Bible, God’s infallible Word. Therefore, a missional church believes that the essence of God’s mission is to extend the reign of God and is summed up in the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
3. A missional church is a visible community of authentic disciples of Jesus Christ who gather for celebration, prayer and teaching and then disperse locally and globally as His missionaries to love and serve people. In so doing, a missional church both pursues and welcomes those who are searching as they are drawn into a saving relationship with Jesus Christ. The greater purpose in all of this is that the earth will be filled with the worship of God.
4. A missional church believes that it is more than just a collection of individuals, but that it is a community called together by God both to love Him and serve Him.
5. A missional church is concerned with more than maintaining programs for existing members; it is called to mobilize itself both individually and as a community to daily self-sacrifice for the hurting world around them. A missional church is both inwardly strong and outwardly focused.
6. A missional church perceives that the essence of these things is the essence of its existence. Therefore, a missional church will constantly seek to reevaluate itself as to whether or not it’s emphasis, organization, and activity effectively
positions the church to partner with God in His mission.
7. A missional denomination a) Believes that the location of ministry is the local church; b) Is made up of local congregations committed to being missional; c) Believes that the Presbyteries and General Assembly, being expressions of the larger church, have an important role to play in identifying, equipping and supporting leaders and churches. They are a key link in the principle of mutual accountability toward missional ministry and Biblical standards. d) Constantly examines whether its polity, structures and programs are supporting or inhibiting that missional commitment.