A Missional Church is Spirit-Driven!

At the heart of being missional is the understanding that the ekklesia has received from the Lord a mandate to be a sent people to carry the gospel of redemption to the world.  The church is sent by Christ and is empowered and led by the Holy Spirit to carry out God’s mission.  In order to be successful in this mission, as Costas has noted, “The church needs to develop a spirituality of mission, learning to discern, discover, participate, be patient, and be dependent on God’s grace…As God gives birth to the church as the Christian faith community, the church is the object of God’s mission, it is also the subject of God’s mission.[1]  With this in mind, the most important aspect of the church is not what we do for the Lord but what he by his Spirit is doing through us. 

            A missional church comes together to worship God, and to be realigned with God’s missionary purpose.   A missional Church depends on the Holy Spirit to direct and define the ministries of the church. The community confesses its dependence upon the Holy Spirit as it seeks the Spirit’s will and direction.  To truly be missional is to follow the Spirit’s direction in making the name of Christ known and exalted in the world.  It is beginning to redefine “success” in terms of faithfulness to the Holy Spirit’s calling and sending, (Acts Acts 13.1-4). 

The Holy Spirit is the executor of the missio Dei in the world today.   “Thus, just as Jesus Christ is the center of God’s redemptive mission to the world—since it is through him that God made possible the reconciliation of mankind—so the Spirit is the executor of God’s mission.  In other words, he is the force that extends redemption, which has its center in God, out into the world.  The ultimate goal of the Spirit’s ministry is to fulfill God’s redemptive purpose in Christ, namely, the creation of a new humanity.”[2]   The church is the agent of the Holy Spirit, the great executor of God’s mission and the missional church, through communion with the Holy Spirit is able to find and fulfill God’s unique will for their fellowship.   As Costas poignantly point outs:

[The church is a] mission community of the Spirit.   It is the Holy Spirit who empowers the church for mission and discipleship.  It is also the Holy Spirit who pushes and surprises the church in mission, such as happened to Peter in his encounter with Cornelius in Acts 10.  The work of the Spirit, inside as well as outside of the church, requires serious and profound thought.  The Spirit works as a missional bridge, guiding the community of faith in its discernment of its mission, discipleship, and witness to the broader community and world.  The Holy Spirit pulls the Christian community into new and exciting missional opportunities and challenges.  This is a new theological dimension in missiological circles.  The contribution of the Pentecostal tradition has been and continues to be important in the development of a theology of the Holy Spirit in the context of mission.  To be a community of mission in the Spirit allows the church to live on the frontier of being a sign and agent of the mission of the kingdom of God; it confirms that the church is an object and a subject of the mission of God[3]

The typical pattern of the established and organized church is to rely on its structures, traditions, programs, and organizations instead of the renewing of the Spirit of God.  The missional church seeks to follow the Holy Spirit wherever and in doing whatever he may so desire.[4]  The missio Dei of God the Father, the Son, and now the H.S.  is lived out in the life of the church.  As the church seeks to commune with the Holy Spirit and follow his direction, it is then able to become more then a religious entity; it becomes truly missional.


            Being missional is something that every church can and should strive to be.  America is increasingly becoming more unchurched.   Most churches are declining or dieing.  Many churches exist as testimonies to past glory days.  Christians increasingly just merely “go to church” without an understanding that the Holy Spirit wants to work through them in impacting their world for Christ Jesus. 

            The missional movement is a return to the understanding that as Christ Jesus came to earth as a missionary, full of the power of the Holy Spirit, drawing near to people to serve them in love and compassion, so the church is also sent into the world.  A missional church is a Spirit-empowered, sent people, who penetrate the culture with their loving presence while communicating the gospel in relevant ways.

[1] Orlando E. Costas, The Church and its Mission: A Shattering Critique from the Third World,8.

[2] Ibid., 7.

[3] Ibid., 65.

[4] David Watson, I Believe in the Church (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1979), 37-38.

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