To Be Or Not To Be Missional

Dave Harvey is an expert church planter and an astute observer of trends in church leadership.  At the Spring 2007 Leadership Conference of Sovereign Grace Ministries Harvey assessed the strengths and weakness of the missional movement in an address titled Watch Your Mission: To Be or Not to Be Missional.

One observation Harvey offers is that sometimes missional practitioners muddy the Cross-centered focus of the Church. 

Here is a sketch outline of Harvey’s message:

What are the Strengths of Missional Churches?

  • Missional Churches Have a Commendable Passion for Evangelism.
  • Missional Churches Have a Laudable Commitment to Engaging Culture.
  • Missional Churches Have a Profitable Impulse for Reexamining Church Tradition.
  • Missional Churches Possess an Admirable Devotion to Social Impact.

What are the Weaknesses of  [Some] Missional Churches?

  • Missional Churches Tend to Be Mission-Centered Rather Than Gospel-Centered.
  • Missional Churches Tend to Have a Reductionistic Ecclesiology.
  • Missional Churches Tend to Confuse Culture Engagement with Cultural Immersion.
  • Missional Churches Tend to Downplay the Institutional and Organizational Nature of the Church.
  • Missional Churches Tend to Have an Insufficient Understanding of Apostolic Ministry.

As one who desires to be both Gospel-centered and Misisonal, I take Harvey’s cautions seriously. I think he has a valid point. I would say that while being Missional does not inherently make one guilty of this, I would have to concede that many who are Missional are guilty of this. 

I suspect this results from an imbalance with the Prophet, Priest, and King tri-perspective. Too much emphasis is placed on the role and influence of the King.  This seems only to be natural since, afterall, one of the important principles recovered by the missional movement is that our mission matters; our mission is as much an expression of who we are as is our theology.

So what is the solution?  Uncompromising Tri-Perspectivalism.

Read Harvey’s full outline here; Download the mp3 for FREE and listen to the audio here.

Note: Thanks to Tony Reinke of Miscellanies for the links.