Confession time: I’ve always—OK, for the past eight years, anyway—had a decided aversion to the term “missional.” I’ve never objected to what it actually means (or should mean), but I’ve also never quite understood why living out the Great Commission needed to be turned into a fashionable buzzword among publishers. All big-name marketing to the contrary, it’s not new, or cool; it’s doing what Jesus has asked us to do for 2,000 years—to be “in the world but not of it” and actually get involved outside the church walls.
Fortunately, despite its obvious usage here, Bob Logan gets all this, and has for a long time. It’s one of the reasons I’ve already been a reader of his work for the past decade or so. And it’s no doubt the reason that this is the first explicitly “missional” book that I’ve enjoyed reading from end to end.
Robert E. Logan, with Tara Miller. The Missional Journey: Multiplying Disciples and Churches That Transform the World. Commentary by Dave DeVries. Introduction by Neil Cole. 200p., $12.00, ChurchSmart Resources.
The tone here is decidedly instructional and hands-on, and yet thoroughly winsome. You want to go out and make things happen after reading this—and you’re given a healthy amount of tools to make it happen in the process.
The first section, “Discovering the Missional Journey,” provides the basic theology that drives truly incarnational ministry to the world. I particularly loved one comment, which tosses how most churches approach both relationship and ministry on its ear:
“Often we look for authentic relationships with other believers before engaging in sacrificial service with them. That approach is seldom successful, since it’s based on our own needs and desires rather than a willingness to give and pour out of our lives into the lives of others. But if we turn it around—if we engage in sacrificial service alongside other believers—it’s almost impossible to avoid authentic relationships. They just happen.”
With the groundwork now established, the second section, “Moving Forward on the Missional Journey,” provides us with both principles and ideas for engaging the culture, forming communities, as well as developing and multiplying leaders and networks. This is stuff written with the assurance that it works. Thus, also there’s a sensitivity (and a sensibility) in how to develop new believers organically, so that they too are “missionally focused” from day one:
“Whatever we do, if we want to make holistic disciples we’ll want to include authentic relationships, sacrificial service, and spiritual transformation…. They don’t need connection to the whole body at once—in some cases that will serve to cut them off from their own natural community. A good starting point is a relationship with just a few individuals who are further along the journey of faith.”
Each chapter includes a “Journey Guide” of questions, prayers, and suggested action points that can be worked through with your team, your coach, or preferably both. All of this is great material for a church-planting team or house church network—or an established church that realizes it needs to get out more.
In addition, the call-out sections provided by fellow church planter and trainer Dave DeVries throughout the book provide numerous practical touches, as well as gentle (or not-so-gentle) reminders to readers, “Wake up—this point is important!”
Whatever your church setting—institutional church, house church, or anything in between—The Missional Journey will help you discover how to shift your focus outward, build relationships and bridges naturally—and most importantly, make disciples.
(And disclosure time again: Yeah, I was editor for this one, too. In fact, I finally got a mention on an Acknowledgements page for the first time. [Which is especially amusing, because my discipleship pastor was just asking me whether that’d ever happened during this odyssey of the last two-plus years and I had to grumble a bit ’cause it hadn’t.] And again, it comes from a guy whose work I’ve followed since doing my ministerial studies with the C&MA. Ergo: How cool is that?)