Monday, November 07, 2011

book review: road to missional

title: the road to missional: journey to the center of the church
author: michael frost
publisher: baker books
date: 2011

"Missional" is one of the current buzz words in many circles. But many churches misunderstand the concept, thinking of "missional" as simply being an add-on to church-as-usual. And so what is really a paradigm shift, often gets reduced or domesticated to simply another modern church growth tool. Michael Frost, in his latest book "The Road to Missional", "reestablishes the ground rules, redefines the terms accurately, and insists that the true prophetic essence of 'being missional' comes through undiluted." [back cover]

Frost is concerned that "being missional [has become for many] more a state of mind than it is a whole new paradigm" [17]. I think Frost is right when he suggests that for many missional is a shift in language only and becomes a synonym for evangelism.

As one of the first users of the term, Frost wants more than words. For the church be missional, it has to be more than “just another way of saying get-out-there-and-invite-your-unsaved-friends-to-church, which it is definitely not.” This traditional paradigm for the church’s role in the world places the impetus on us. Frost clarifies the alternative: the church is missional only in its relation to God. Mission, then, must start with the Missio Dei - “the reign of God.”

When the church is about us, mission can turn into simply a sales pitch in the competing marketing of anything and everything. Frost labels this the “market-shaped church,” where evangelism - sharing the good news of Jesus Christ - measures itself in terms of efficiency and initial impact, instead of acknowledging the “slow” work of alerting people to God’s work in the work. The chapter “slow evangelism” is an incisive challenge we would do well to hear (and respond!).

For the church to be truly missional, Christians must give up control, being reminded of the mandate to follow the way of Jesus as Lord and not just Savior. Mission is about “participating” with God, not being gods ourselves. Instead of complex strategies to reach people, the church is with people in their day-to-lives.

"The Road to Missional" is the best summary of the missional church I’ve read. It’s accessible and readable, but without compromising a rich theological and conceptual foundation. Frost, himself writes with integrity. He’s personally wrestled through the subject matter himself. 

If you want to understand missional, incarnational, and shalom, in the context of being God's peaple I would highlyt recommend this is the place to begin. Frost brings clarification and inspiration on a topic so many confuse, abuse, or simply ignore.

Frost’s main point in "The Road to Missional" is simply this – becoming missional is not about making congregations more appealing for a new generation; rather, becoming missional is about equipping and releasing people to be the church in their neighborhoods, regardless of what style of worship they prefer of the size of the congregation. Becoming missional is all about tapping into the missio Dei in order to be a foretaste of the reign of God in Christ. This is rooted in the cross and God's shalom. And do, becoming missional is not simply a matter of language or programming – it is a never ending process and a “calls it followers to the disciplines of sacrifice, service, love, and grace; and a mission that delights in beauty, flavor, joy, and friendship" [146].

"Book has been provided courtesy of Thomas Nelson and Graf-Martin Communications, Inc. Available at your favourite bookseller from Thomas Nelson". 

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