Missional Church (Book Review)
Posted by Dennis Arve Wilkinson
Darrell L. Guder
The missional church movement is a large and growing river. You can buy books, go to conferences, visit websites. There is truly a wealth of information out there covering missional ecclesiology. What started all this? The more you search upstream, the clearer it becomes: This book, is the mountain spring that feeds the river. If you have the slightest bit of interest in the Missional movement of church, you won’t be able to put this book down.
The church is not a gathering of people, it’s not a location, it’s not a place where religious events happen, it’s a people who are on the mission of God. The idea of mission must no longer be thought of as a program of the church, but an identity of the church. The church is defined by mission, we are at the core a sent people. (4)
The context that the church is sent into is one of individualism, consumerism, and materialism. The result is, that for most in the North American context life really has become about economics, desire, and power. (38-39) This worldview is covered over with a strong post-modern gloss, which places very serious doubt on objective truth. The church has a radically counter cultural understanding of these topics. Unfortunately, in an effort to follow God, many have embraced the very concepts that are to be countered. For example: Churches have become dispensaries of religious goods and services to individualistic consumers. (84) Church becomes all about the production and promotion of programs. The good churches are the ones that are properly marketed. (85) Instead the church is to exist as community, servant, and messenger of the reign of God. (110) The measurements for the success of a church can not be determined by the size of its budget, the number of its members, the quality of its musical efforts, or the amount of its programs. Success is exhibited in the quality of Christian love experienced in the midst of its common life and ministry. (156) Church is a radical reorientation away from individualism and into true community — in many respects this is what baptism symbolizes. (162) The church must be about creating space where fellow human beings can be brought into a new relationship with God and with each other. (180) The church is to be communities of inclusion and interdependence, clusters of people who reflect gratitude and generosity (181)
Missional Church is a plea for the body of Christ to become missional communities again. For the church to return to its identity as a sent family of servants — and to cast off anything that gets in the way of living out this identity.