by Rev. Laura Barclay
Introducing the Missional Church:What It Is, Why It Matters, How to Become One by Alan J. Roxburgh and M. Scott Boren is a resource for persons interested in thinking differently about the way in which church operates. The authors talk about how church has been traditionally attractional, meaning that the goal of the ministers and laity was getting persons from the community into their church through different programs and ministries. Roxburgh and Boren present another idea: The Missional Church. A missional church would be engaged in the community outside the church walls for the sake of relationship and community building, not merely for proselytizing. This hospitality embodies the example of Jesus and reorients the church to think about how they can help further the mission of what God is doing in the community. They refuse to give a model for how to transform from attractional to missional, because they say that the institutionalization of a model will actually keep a church from being able to adapt to its situation and community. Instead, they offer markers and a process for holding grassroots discussions in congregations that will help the members think outside the church walls and build relationships in the community.
Roxburgh and Boren stress the importance of the transition to a missional church not being a hierarchical decision; rather, they want to begin with house meetings with suggestions, questions, and concerns from the congregants. Findings from the congregations will be made public in a report, and discussion will ensue around the congregations’ observations within the church community. Some congregants will become interested through this process to venture outside the comfort of the church walls into the neighborhood. Roxburgh and Boren share a story about one congregation that notice a large influx of youth in the community, loitering on the streets because there were no community centers or youth activities. Members of the church built relationships with the youth and realized they wanted a facility to keep them occupied. The church then organized to build them a community center simply to be a good neighbor and better the city.
While the book can be frustrating at times because the authors stress that there is no road map to being missional, the ideas and resources provided allow churches to begin toward a path of looking outward into the world to find and work alongside with God’s mission. To access their Mission-Shaped Field Guide or Mission Shaped 360 assessment tool, visit www.roxburghmissionalnet.com. Also, you can find this book on Amazon.com here: http://www.amazon.com/Introducing-Missional-Church-Matters-Allelon/dp/0801072123.