(part 3 of a series on being a missional church)
In part 2 we saw that because of some seismic shifts that have undergone in Canadian culture, churches need to adopt a missional posture. A faithful church needs to communicate the never-changing gospel message into an ever-changing culture. Like faithful missionaries, a church needs to adjust their methods, communication, style and means to communicate the gospel in a meaningful and clear way to a post-Christian and de-churched culture.
As a missional community, a church should look the same as its culture, but live radically different than its culture. For many churches the opposite is true. They look very different than their culture: they talk with different language, they dress differently, they listen to different music. They spend their time in a Christian subculture. And yet, for all those differences in appearances from the culture, they live remarkably similar lives to the culture around them. These Christians get divorced at the same rate as non-Christians. They look at porn at the same frequency. They covet the same idols, and live for the same values. For these Christians and churches, they look very different from their culture in how they dress and talk, but their lives are lived remarkably the same as everyone else.
Instead, a missional community needs to look the similar to its culture, but live radically different lives. They should look similar to their culture in fashion, language, technology, arts and music. But they should live remarkably different lives. They need to be people of astounding grace and generosity in a consumeristic world. They need to be people of love and community in an individualistic world. They need to have strong marriages, a hope-infused worldview and a radical grace for others.
The difference between faithful Christians and the world around them is not in the clothes they wear, the idioms they use or whether they pray before eating. The essence of Christianity is not captured in suits or jeans, country music or indie rock, academic language or street slang. Christianity is seen in counter-cultural, grace-saturated, Christ-centred living.
A missional church is a community that embodies a radical counterculture. We take the radical grace-saturated message and lifestyle of Jesus and we live it out in a specific time and culture, complete with its trends and styles and forms of communication. A missional community looks different not because of its style, but because of its character. In a post-Christian world, a traditional church looks different, but lives the same, a missional church looks the same, but lives radically different.
(originally written for Delve on November 28, 2010)