Scott Hodge


Alan Hirsch on the misuse of the phrase “Missional”

Jun 23, 2008

The more I read and get to know Alan Hirsch, the more I appreciate and resonate with his thoughts on the term "missional" and what that means for us as individuals and for our church communities. 

His latest post Missional the New Emergent?  Not On My Shift! does a great job of communicating the different purposes of "emergent" and "missional" focuses.

From his post:

Why I am so fussy about this word is because I believe it
carries the full weight of the hope for the church in the West. I
wholeheartedly believe that the recovery of the missional idea of God
and Church is critical to the survival, let alone the growth, of
Christianity in the West. Much is at stake here!

Missional church is a community of God’s people that defines itself,
and organizes its life around, its real purpose of being an agent of
God’s mission to the world.

The mission of God flows directly through every
believer and every community of faith that adheres to Jesus. To
obstruct this is to block God’s purposes in and through his people.  (From his book, The Forgotten Ways)

in my opinion what is expressed through Emergent, the Alt-Worship movement, and what has been called Post-Evangelicalism, is not by-and-large a missionary movement, but is rather what I would call a renewal

As for me, I am happy to call the so-called ‘emergents’ friends and fellow travelers, I personally do not feel the need to question the inherited theological tradition as many of its adherents do.

Emerging forms of the church must always be subservient to the missional purposes of the church.  My advice to ‘emergents’
is therefore, don’t emerge before you have a mission.

My advice to all you folks on both sides of the debate that mix up the term, be warned!
What you are doing is only making it harder for the Church to come to
grips with its deepest sense of call and purpose in this time and
place–no less! For God’s sake, be clear in your use of the term or can I suggest that you stop using it.

To guard against a further degrading of the word, I want to suggest (as I did in The Forgotten Ways) that we combine the term ‘missional’ with the associated term ‘incarnational’ to come up with the term missional-incarnational.

If ‘missional’ carries the sense of being ’sent’, then ‘incarnational’
gives definition to the nature of that ’sentness.’ If ‘missional’ means
being thrust into the world as witnesses to the redemption that is in
Jesus, then ‘incarnational’ shows us that we ought to engage the world
in the same way that God did in and through the Incarnation of the Word
in Jesus the Messiah.

Mission always sets our Agenda and Incarnation must always describe our Way.

Read the entire post here.

2 Responses to “Alan Hirsch on the misuse of the phrase “Missional””

  1. good stuff Scott. Maybe the fact that there haven’t been any other comments is that everyone is sitting there feeling guilty, slapped in the face, and trying to figure out what the implications of this really mean to them (I felt all of things myself when I read this).

  2. hey there, Scott.
    saw your twitter, but you don’t follow me so i wasn’t sure if you’d be able to see my reply. twitter has been weird today. anyway… i use POP for my gmail account in mac mail app. but you have to also go to your prefs in and enable POP. that might be what is snagging you up.
    attached is what my mac mail looks like when i set up gmail.
    let me know if it works for you!
    Crystal Renaud

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