Please feel free to give input on the initial format of my dissertation…

MISSIONAL TRANSFORMATION – Fueling Missional Movements that Transform America

Seattle, Washington, USA

Statement of the Problem

The problem this project addresses is how to encourage and empower local church leaders to mobilize every member as a missionary who engages their culture with the gospel, and how to equip denominational leaders to strategically fuel missional movements across America.

Context of the Problem Nationally: Most Christians in America don’t understand the mission of the church. They often view buildings as the “church” and redefine evangelism as inviting someone to come to their church building. Their “pay, pray and get out of the way” approach to missions has left the true mission of the church to trained professionals who leave their own culture to reach those in another culture with the gospel. As a result, “missions” is viewed as something that only happens in a foreign geographical context.

American churches have become obsessed with size and buildings as the measure of success. Local churches are more dedicated to the programs of their church than to the mission of the church, and many have entrusted the church’s mission to paid professional clergy. The attractional approach that is evident in most churches has resulted in minimal conversions and increased shuffling of the flock. Churches rarely function as missionary training communities which mobilize every member to be sent “on mission” as a missionary in their own culture.

There are a growing number of missional churches and missional leaders who are abandoning Americanized Christianity and seeking to return to the mission of the church by mobilizing every member as missionaries. However, the absence of more missional churches, missional leaders and missional movements in America must be addressed.

Personally: My passion for missions and my desire to serve God as a missionary led me to attend The Master’s Seminary. My dream was to be a church planting missionary, so while in seminary I was involved with a church plant in Newhall, CA. When I graduated from TMS in 1990, I partnered with the Missionary Church Western District (MCWD) to start Lake Hills Community Church in Castaic, CA. Over the past sixteen years as senior pastor, I have seen Lake Hills grow and expand, using similar approaches of many church plants

While continuing to pastor, I have also served as Director of Church Multiplication for the MCWD. Through assessing, training, coaching and supervising church planters, and strategizing at both a regional and national level, God has increased my passion for missions and church planting. Recently I resigned as Lake Hills’ pastor to become a missionary to the United State with OC International. I am now focused on fueling missional movements by equipping and empowering pastors and church planters to embrace missional practices, and partnering with denominational leaders to strategically multiply churches across America.

Desired Outcomes

1) To encourage and empower local church leadership . .

a) To abandon Americanized Christian practices

b) To return to Christ’s mission for the church

c) To develop local churches as missional training communities

d) To mobilize every member as missionaries who engage the culture with the gospel.

2) To equip denominational leaders and missionaries with strategies to fuel missional movements that transform America . .

a) Mobilizing missional leader

b) Integrating missional practice

c) Initiating missional strategie

d) Planting missional communities and churches

Integration of Transformational Leadership

Transformational leadership is critical to transforming the mission of local churches. Local church leaders must enlist, equip and empower every believer to engage in missional practices where they live. It is only as church leaders are being transformed by the Holy Spirit and initiating missional activities themselves that the Church will be able to fulfill its mission in the world. Understanding their calling, gifting, and responsibility to “prepare God’s people for works of service” (Eph 4:12) will enable leaders to train others toward missionality.

Theological Basis

The biblical understanding of the church as God’s “sent ones” is foundational to missional transformation (John 20:21). The mission of Jesus to “seek and to save the lost” is the mission of every believer. Jesus sends His followers into the world as the Father sent Him. Local churches that experience missional transformation will affect transformation of both people and places.

This will have profound implications for the church in America. By examining the Gospels and the Book of Acts, we see that the church is not a physical place or destination, but the Church is people – every believer together sent by God with the gospel to the culture. The invitation in Scripture is not to come to church; it is to come to Christ. As believers embrace Christ’s mission as their ultimate priority, both lives and communities are transformed and the gospel is truly seen as good news. The biblical concepts of kingdom, grace, incarnation, community, culture, stewardship and obedience must be further explored to grasp more clearly what missional transformation is all about.

Missiological Basis

Missionaries will transform America. Local churches must prepare missionaries for both global and local ministry. God is the one who sends; local churches are to prepare those who God is sending. Every believer is sent somewhere – either to their local culture or to a distant culture. The training of every believer as a missionary who is sent to their neighborhoods and workplaces is the responsibility of every church leader. Every Christian must adopt a “missionary mindset” – knowing that they’ve been sent with the gospel in community to the culture.

Practical Basis

Too many churches in America are failing to make disciples of non-disciples. The mission of many churches is internally focused on more people, more money and more buildings, rather than on the mission of God. Churches need to abandon Americanized Christian practices that attempt to attract people on Sundays. Instead, they must train every member to initiate incarnational attempts to engage the culture with the gospel. As every believer practices missional activities, both individuals and communities will experience transformation.

Research Methods

  1. Input of practitioners at MCWD Missional Summit (March 28, 2006).
  2. Survey of local pastors in the MCWD regarding missional activities.
  3. Follow up interviews of MCWD pastors.
  4. Survey of district leaders in each district of the Missionary Church regarding missional movements.
  5. Interaction through internet blogs and email.

Specific Studies

  1. The Profile of a Missional Leader
  2. Best Practices of Missional Churches
  3. Denominational Strategies for Fueling Missional Movements.