Is Being in a Church Optional to Being Missional?

One of my team members, David Malouf, recently asked me this question:

“Does someone really need to be in a local church to be Missional? Something like Barna’s “Revolutionaries” (see the book by Barna) – loving God, reaching the world, bring Christ to many but no association with any local community/church. Is this an option in the Missional approach? Why or why not?”

Please comment…


Dave DeVries

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Dr. Dave DeVries is a coach, trainer, author and founder of Missional Challenge. He is passionate about coaching and training church planters and missional leaders. With 30+ years of church planting and leadership development experience, Dave brings his passion and encouragement to those he trains and coaches.
6 replies
  1. Missional Jerry
    Missional Jerry says:

    I asked this same question on another blog yesterday.

    I think its perfectly possible to have church, without being a part of “church”.

    When we begin to equate what we are doing as right or wrong, based on if we show up at a particular place at a particular time, then I think we have a wrong view of kingdom and missional living.

  2. ZooMuse
    ZooMuse says:

    Back to basics, the reason we are all asking these questions: what do you mean by local church? Interestingly, it seems that, whenever Heb 10:19-25 is discussed, those with a more traditional DNA will automatically connect the dots between these verses and the Sunday morning service. Here’s the passage:

    Therefore, brothers and sisters, since we have confidence to enter the sanctuary by the blood of Jesus, by the fresh and living way that he inaugurated for us through the curtain, that is, through his flesh, and since we have a great priest over the house of God, let us draw near with a sincere heart in the assurance that faith brings, because we have had our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed in pure water. And let us hold unwaveringly to the hope that we confess, for the one who made the promise is trustworthy. And let us take thought of how to spur one another on to love and good works, not abandoning our own meetings, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging each other, and even more so because you see the day drawing near.

    Without going into intense detail, it simply seems to me that, in these verses, we have a pretty good description of various elements which help us to know how/what church is, what some of the activities are and what some of the outcomes should be: corporate renewal of faith’s assurances, corporate reminder of the basis on which we draw near to God, challenging/stimulating one another to costly acts of self-giving which places the needs of others before our own, and encouragement for today in the light of the return of Jesus. Thee’s a whole lot more there as you know.

    I would simply say that every believer needs to have those with whom s/he is journeying which provides a safe place to be a person in process, and with those who will love me, remind me of the truth, and challenge me to go forward. We all need this, as my wife and I well know. We have been going through a ‘detox’ from church-as-we-have-known-it, many reasons, none of which is relelvant here. However, recently, we have come to see how much we need whatever we call it, a gathering and a people with whom we can obey Hebrews 10:19-25 over the long haul–or as long as God gives us to journey together.

  3. Simon
    Simon says:

    Isn’t their a hermenutic of living missionally that can only be experienced and discovered when living as a committed member of a faith community? Whether that takes the form of a home group, church, group of believing friends, etc.

    I think the individualistic bent we have ridden into the ground in the west – is bringing us to lonely destination.

  4. Bob Carder
    Bob Carder says:

    The question is flawed! We are never in the church -we as Christ followers are the Church and when we who are the Church gather as the Church we better all be missional as individuals and as a corporate body.

    To do otherwise makes us no different than what we have already produced historically in America -resulting in everything but missional. We can call her missional but we all know in far too many cases she is not.

  5. JR Woodward
    JR Woodward says:

    I would have to agree with Bob, in that the question is flawed as stated, and I think Bob made an important point.

    I think if we want to be missional as the people of God, we should be thinking about how we as the people of God in local areas can be a sign, foretaste and instrument of God’s kingdom. Those three words that I use from Leslie Newbigin and others are rich and deserve some deep reflection.

    It seems to me that we need to do some bilingual theological reflection, considering the grammar of our mission and the grammar of our culture, and cultivate communities that understand the various elements of the dominant culture that are trying to squeeze us into their mold and inhibit the people of God from bearing the fruit of the Spirit. As the people of God we should be thinking about how to be community or church that embodies the ministry of reconcilation and the fruit of the spirit, so that we might be a faithful sign and foretaste of the kingdom.

    In my opinion the anti-church, anti-structualism ideas that are floating around the blogosphere and some publishing firms tend to feed into the dominate culture in which we live. If we are to be faithful to are call as the people of God we must at least realize what Simon has mentioned, “I think that the individual bent we have ridden into the ground in the west – is bringing us to lonely destination.f”

  6. David M
    David M says:

    Bob, I fear you have read you cultural distaste into my quote a little too early. Unless you would espouse the idea that there is no recognition of a “local church” in the NT. At which point, yes, my question is without content.

    Missional Jerry did the same thing: I never said anything about a place and time.

    The thrust of the question is this: if Christians are “fully missional,” then what happens when the mission is succeeded? Was the point of it all to simply get others to join the cause of getting others, or was it more than that?

    Another way, If it’s “all about Jesus,” then how does it now become about others?

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