Jesus, Missional, and Cultural Influence

In current Christian circles there is a buzz word called “missional”. It’s the new word. A few years ago it was “emerging” and “postmodern” now it’s missional. And in a few years it will be something different.

I have no problem with the word, concept, or theology. In fact, I think it’s necessary and I even wrote my thesis on it. The basic idea is that Christians need to be partnering with God in making disciples, changing the world, and being a blessing to those around us. God is already active in the world, and we are called to join him in his activity. This is all good stuff, true stuff, and stuff that I preach consistently.

My worry is that all this good theology gets mixed with a bad economy and worldview of our culture. What happens is our cultural worldview of economics of production, exportation, and efficiency starts to influence our theology and activity. All of a sudden the missional work of the church can be co-opted by the consumeristic economy around us. We start up missional programs to ensure we’re making disciples and cutting edge. We start seeking how to most efficiently impact the community around us, taking our cues from books, conferences, and even blog posts. What can subtly happen is that, while we talk about being missional, we end up focusing on efficiency, metrics, individual decisions, and products.

Again, in general, none of these things are wrong, but when combined with theology they move against the grain of God.

The rhythm of God isn’t primarily about efficiency but faithfulness;

it isn’t about business metrics but Kingdom ethics;

it isn’t about getting people to make decisions about Christ but to be transformed into disciples of Christ;

it isn’t about products but people loved by God

So I’m in no way against leadership, business, and the seven habits of highly effective people. I read all of this type of thing, have been positively influenced by it. I just want to make sure that theology is dictating our business, leadership, and systems, not the other way around. I just want to ensure that while we are talking about being on mission and making disciples we are into it for the long haul and not for a flash in the pan. Because making disciples isn’t about efficiency it is about commitment and longevity. Jesus took three years to make 12 disciples. He lived life with them, he listened to them, cared for them, saw them fail and falter, and even saw one turn his back and leave him. This is the way we make disciples and are missional: in messy, convoluted, long, sometimes in-efficient, relationships where God is moving and working.

So yes be efficient, be missional, make disciples. Just make sure that how you do is influenced more by Jesus than anything else.

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