Wednesday, August 07, 2013

Introducing Missional Church: A Book Review

Alan Roxburgh is a leader in the missional church movement.  He is not only a practitioner, coach, and conference leader but he is also an engaging writer on the subject.  In Introducing the Missional Church:  What It Is, Why It Matters, How to Become One, he has joined colleague Scott Boren to provide a simple primer on the missional church for readers new to the subject.

Roxburgh and Boren address three primary concepts in the book.  First, what does it mean to have a missional imagination, asking a different set of questions as one seeks to grapple with the current state of the church?  Second, what are the key theological considerations of the missional conversation?  Third, how can a congregation embark on the journey of becoming missional?

The first section provides a good introduction to the shift in paradigms necessary to understand the need for a missional church.  Using many biblical and historical examples, the authors help us to understand the opportunity to adopt a different mindset in order to become the People of God in our contemporary setting.

I found the second section on the three missional conversations most helpful.  Roxburgh and Boren present three theological concepts underlying the missional church idea—consider your context as a mission field,  recognize that the mission is God’s and not the church’s, and become a contrast community that is a sign of the Kingdom of God.

I have heard Roxburgh say many times, “It’s about God and not the church.”  The church is intended to be the People of God placed in a particular context as a witness to God’s dream for the world.” The missional conversation is about God and not the church.  The four chapters devoted to the missional conversation are the meat of the book.

The final section presents an introduction to Roxburgh and Boren’s process for becoming a missional church.  They are careful to emphasize that this is “a” process and not “the” process for this journey.  They are committed to the idea that “the Spirit of God is among the people of God” and is the most important source of guidance and insight toward becoming missional.

Although the final section is helpful, it primarily points toward resources that the authors provide in their training and consulting work. 

I recommend the book as a good introduction to the lay person or minister who knows little about the missional church movement.  Not only a new perspective but a new understanding—in reality, a conversion experience--is needed for a church to be God’s people today.

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