The Promise and Potential Danger of Missional

David Mathis:

In the last decade, a new term related to missions has come into use among evangelicals doing domestic ministry: missional. The most insightful of those using the term recognize that the West is quickly becoming post-Christian and that this shift raises important questions about what it means to do domestic ministry. Europe and North America have become more and more like a mission field – but a post-Christian, rather than pre-Christian, field. Since the term evangelism carries for many the baggage of Christendom – recalling the days when the general biblical worldview was prevalent enough in society that street-corner confrontations and stadium crusades found more traction and produced more genuine converts – the emergence of the term missional (in place of evangelistic and as a more holistic kind of evangelism) signifies that the times are changing in some significant degree, calling for new missions-like engagement. This new thinking is a good development, but with it comes a danger.

The danger is that with the discussions about “being missional” and “every Christian being a missionary,” the pursuit of all the peoples by prioritizing the unreached may be obscured. We need to preserve a place for the biblical category of reaching the unreached. The biblical theme is not merely that God reaches as many people as possible, but all the peoples. He intends to create worshippers of his Son from every nation. The push for being missional captures something very important in the heart of God, but the danger is when it comes at the cost of something else essential in the heart of God: pursuing all the nations, not merely those who share our language and culture.

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