Missional or Incarnational?

There’s a prof at Mars Hill Graduate School named Dwight Friesen. He’s written an article for Mars Hill’s site about living incarnationally. He’s afraid the term missional is being misused. He says,

I have a growing concern that the proliferation of mission and missional language in many of our churches today may not do justice to the joy, mystery, and fullness of life that Christ invites us to share with the triune God. In its current usage, the word mission often paints a mental picture of a task to complete more than a picture of a life to live. Like the Blues Brothers on their ¢â‚¬Å“mission from God,¢â‚¬ anything that does not obviously contribute to the completion of the mission is treated without respect. So when we view individual conversion, or serving marginalized peoples, or saving our planet as the mission, then everything else plays second fiddle.

He prefers incarnational living. Friesen states:

At this time I find myself preferring the language of incarnational living instead of missional living. The language of incarnational living more meaningfully emphasizes embodying Christ in every situation and cultural context. The celebration of Christmas is the celebration of God with humanity¢â‚¬”it is the Incarnation, Emmanuel, God with us. Fully God and fully human, Jesus by his very life and presence was mission.

Incarnational living more meaningfully marries mission with the wholeness of life. Incarnational living places the mystery of life with Christ at the center of each follower¢â‚¬â„¢s life and each faith community¢â‚¬â„¢s life together.

Incarnational living invites all Christ-followers to flesh out their uniqueness, encouraging the totality of their being to reflect or embody Christ. When people and their respective communities see their ¢â‚¬Å“being¢â‚¬ as inevitably making the invisible Christ visible through their lives, then every interaction, every act, every moment of stillness becomes a Christ moment. This explodes the singularity of mission; now life becomes mission in a holistic sense. Mission is inevitable when Christ is incarnated, but without incarnation mission looks a lot like busy religiosity.

I am wondering if our real issue is that we want to evaluate and assign a quantifiable value to everything.  Numbers have to be evaulated, big events are done so we can count people and stuff, instead of a holistic view of loving others.  I’m not downing evaluations, we should look at how we are being effective, but there’s more to life, more important things than numbers.  Part of me wonders if the real focus of our calling isn’t simply helping people move closer to Christ as we move closer to Christ.  Our journey impacts the journey of others, or starts them on the journey.

But our pride gets in the way.  People want to see progress, numbers, activities, and we want to be able to quantify it all, that’s how we judge whether our ministry is better, or is being blessed by God.  Pride.

Stop comparing your ministry with others and compare it with Christ.

David has been a systems thinker most of his life. He has started three businesses as well as designed and developed systems and processes in existing organizations. He has a Doctorate in Leadership and has also done additional post-graduate work in communications.

He has also pastored 3 churches and loves to think about, write about and podcast about scripture, theology, and leadership.

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