A group of evangelical leaders yesterday released their “Missional Manifesto,” a document aimed at explaining what it means to be “missional” and why it matters for how we understand the church. Framers of the document included people like Tim Keller, Dan Kimball, Ed Stetzer, and Alan Hirsch, among others.
According to the framers, understanding the missional nature of the church is vital for the church today.
A biblically faithful, missional understanding of God and the church is essential to the advancement of our role in His mission, and thus to the dynamism of Christianity in the world.
In the document, the word “missional” is grounded in two basic ideas: (1) the nature of the triune God and his mission in the world and (2) our calling to be ambassadors of that mission in the world. Regarding the former, they say:
Properly understanding the meaning of missional begins with recognizing God’s missionary nature. The Father is the source of mission, the Son is the embodiment of that mission, and mission is done in the power of the Spirit. By nature, God is the “sending one” who initiates the redemption of His whole creation. Jesus consistently spoke of Himself as being “sent” in John’s gospel and subsequently commissioned His disciples for this same purpose (John 17:3, 8, 18, 21, 23, 25). As the “sent” people of God, the church is the instrument of His mission (John 20:21).
They then move on to the second point, arguing that God has appointed the church to be the ambassadors of this divine mission in the world:
The Church, therefore, properly encourages all believers to live out their primary calling as Christ’s ambassadors (2 Corinthians 5:20) to those who do not know Jesus. The ministry of reconciliation is applicable to both its native culture and in cross-cultural ministry throughout the world. In this sense, every believer is a missionary sent by the Spirit into a non-Christian culture activating the whole of his or her life in seeking to participate more fully in God’s mission.
Finally, the document concludes with a number of theological affirmations on biblical authority, the Gospel, the kingdom, and the nature, purpose, and work of the church. It looks like they intend this to serve as the foundational document for a diverse, missional think-tank of some kind. With the people they’ve pulled together for this, it should be interesting.