He spends a great deal of time describing what a missional Church is and his not. A missional church then, is a church that realises this Missio Dei and has a "wholesale and thorough reorientation of the church around mission" (p16). “Mission is both the announcement and the demonstration of the reign of God through
Christ. "It is our automatic response to God's reign and rule, proven through Christ, revealed through the Spirit. Therefore,
any collective of believers set free from the disorder of this present age, who
offer themselves in service of the mission of their God to alert people to the
new unfolding order of things, can rightly be called a missional church."
To contrast, he makes it clear that mission is not primarily concerned with church growth. It is primarily concerned with the reign and rule of the Triune God. If the church grows as a result, so be it.” (p24). It "is not about evangelism, It is not about sending, but being sent. Missional is like slow cooking, where disciples incarnate deeply within the communities they are in or called to be in. No quick fix. No rush to pile up numbers of conversions. No snappy 'four spiritual laws.' " (46).
Since he recognizes that God reigns and rules through
whatever you do that alerts people to the fact of the rule of God, is
missional. The strength and problem with many of these contrasts is that there
is a lot of room for action. While he affirms this action by both ‘announcement
and demonstration’ (p35) almost all the focus and the examples are on
‘demonstration’. It would be best to look elsewhere for much of the "announcement" or content of the
message. Although Frost
quotes quite extensively from various missional authors, his treatment of the
Scriptural message of the "announcement" is infrequent. You need to
go though twenty-five pages before the first text is cited. Interesting Biblical treatment such as "The Cross as
Metaphor/Paradigm" (p. 90ff) are few and far between. Taking concepts like
the incarnation by quoting The Message
that "The Word became flesh and blood and moved into the neighbourhood"
(Jn. 1:14) is so offensive, that his argument for moving into the neighbourhood
(proximity) (p. 123) is undermined.
The missional approach often seems to be living out a "lordship" of
self-sacrificial life, but it is often not
careful in what it advocates. One, for example sees a renewal of
"monastic practices-confession, repentance, Bible reading, prayer..."
(p.79). Calling these spiritual disciplines "monastic" contradicts a missional connection with the
community. Likewise, the trend to define one's self on what you don't do (don't
drink/smoke/gamble/hang out with people who do) sounds more like old school
"fundamentalism" than "pietism".
Yet, I would agree with Frost that this kind of spirituality "outsources
the need to do the daily work of keeping in step with the Spirit of the
God" (p.85). Again a good point is made with a poor choice of terms:
"Church people worry that the
world might change the church, Kingdom people work to see the church change the
world" (p.103). Perhaps using a term like "religious" would have
been preferable for Christ came to establish a
"church", or called out people for Himself to be agents of His
There seems to be a very "grass roots" feeling to the work of mission. Things like structure, leadership, doctrinal standards and accountably are woefully lacking. Seeing congregations "led by humble men and women" (p.79) perhaps even hints at the author's desire for "egalitarian" leadership.
I found myself laughing in chapter four on "triumphant Humiliation" in the description of false persecution that some feel: "Maybe when your neighbor ignores you, it's not because he hates the light of the Lord that shins from you. Maybe he just thinks you're a jerk. Maybe we get most of the rejection we do because, well, we deserve it" (p.83). This is a much needed wake up call for contemporary Christianity.
Yet, it does no good to try to do the "mission" of
Christ and not proclaim His words while
doing do. Our message may counteract our methods. This work is helpful in
suggesting ways to live out the message of Christ. Yet, I fear
we may quickly forget and get side-tracked if we do not continue to learn about
the person and words of Christ in order to check our actions
to His mission.
Rating: 2.5 stars of 5.
- Paperback: 160 pages
- Publisher: Baker
Oct 1 2011)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0801014077
- ISBN-13: 978-0801014079
- Product Dimensions: 22.6 x 15.2 x 1.3 cm
- Shipping Weight: 227 g
"Book has been provided courtesy of Baker Publishing Group and Graf-Martin Communications, Inc.
Available at your favourite bookseller from Baker Books, a division of Baker Publishing Group".