Missional Church Resources – Missional Communities

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Missional Resources for Church Leaders – MISSIONAL COMMUNITIES

Part of LifeandLeadership.com ministry resources on Missional Church.


This Ministry Resource guide focuses on various proposals as to how missional churches should be conceived, designed, and sent into their ministries.

It is safe to say that most missional communities conceive of themselves in terms of missio Dei, at least to some degree. In its purest expression, however, missio Dei does not dictate a particular form or faith tradition. Thus many churches are simply missio Dei, making no assumptions about the shape their lives will take. They simply express the mission of God in whatever ways they discern by praying, dwelling in the word, and embodying Christ in their surroundings. Other churches, while adopting a missional mindset, insist on a particular form, theological orientation, faith affiliation, etc. For example, the Organic model is closely tied to the form of loosely-organized house churches, while the Convergent-With-Conventional approach stays connected with established, traditional churches, etc.

Missional communities come in several varieties. This guide is limited to some of the more common forms. They are listed in categories that may be helpful, with links provided not only to the books, but in some cases to essays that explain the categories.

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Missional Communities — Missio Dei (see definition)

The following resources are more purely missio Dei, and are not tied to a particular way of expressing missional. While adopting missio Dei theologically, they spiritually discern and act upon one or more of a variety of forms God may use to release people for his purposes, including, but not limited to, the established church.

First reads:

Respected works by Frost and Hirsch:

Other important works:

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Missional Communities — Organic Church

This is an expression of missional that is tied to the “organic” form. Not all who use the term “Organic Church” mean it in the same way. There are at least two common usages.

One use of “organic” simply proposes a more natural way of developing churches rather than forcing all congregations into a set mold that may not fit their identity. Unlike the model described below, it does not carefully prescribe what an organic church should look like, but allows for considerable diversity based on a congregation’s unique culture. See the Ministry Resource Guide for this model.

Within the missional-emergent conversations, however, “organic” most often refers to a strictly deinstitutionalized pattern for the church, most commonly facilitated by loosely organized house-churches or, if in a larger congregation, a very intentional organization around smaller units or “missional communities.” It elevates features such as meeting in homes, no official pastor, everyone involved in worship, congregational/consensus decision making, no official leaders or elders but teachers and exemplars, etc. Ed Stetzer (Evangelicals Engaging Emergent, 47-90) places these in the category of “Reconstructionist” Emergents.

Frank Viola and Neil Cole are the chief proponents of the missional-emergent version of organic. Viola has an extensive website, Present Testimony Ministry, for those who wish to know more about his philosophy and experience. Cole’s website includes an extensive interview/exchange between Viola and Cole that explains the essential features of the Organic Church.

Frank Viola “ReChurch Library”

Viola writes on a level that will be appreciated more by practitioners than scholars (though both may benefit). He enjoys a wider readership than Cole. His observations on the church in contemporary culture are respected by traditional, missional, and emergent enthusiasts alike. He is one of the strongest voices for radical church restoration in the postmodern era. He calls this “ReChurch” and has written a multi-volume series to describe it. Click below to find summaries.

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Neil Cole’s Organic Church

Other Organic Church Resources:

Evaluation of Organic:

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Missional Communities — Resurgent Reformed (see definition in Missionally Responsive Trajectories)

The following resources are missional, not necessarily in adopting a missio Dei theology, but in realizing the church exists in a missionary culture, and seeking fresh ways to faithfully indwell their communities. The chief distinction, however, is their adherence to a core of Reformed theology. The works by Driscoll represent his past ministry at the Mars Hills Church in Seattle and the church planting organization, Acts 29 Network. His past writings represent a four-part theological foundation: 1) Gospel-centered theology, 2) Spirit-filled lives, 3) Complementarian relationships, and 4) Missional churches. The other authors listed below operate out of similar convictions but different organizations.

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Missional Communities — Convergent with Conventional (see definition in Missionally Responsive Trajectories)

Missional Communities — Convergent with Attractional (see definition in Missionally Responsive Trajectories)

Missionally Responsive – Evangelical and Missionally Responsive – Eclectic (see definition of both in Missionally Responsive Trajectories)

Before the most recent Missional/Missio Dei conversations, most church renewal material was written to leaders of conventional churches, both Evangelical, Mainline Protestant, and Non-Denominational. There remains a robust discussion among established church leaders, as well as a healthy stream of publications designed for them. Many of these titles are distributed in the following Ministry Resource Guides.

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Related Ministry Resources

Missional Perspectives for Christian Ministry:

See Resources on Over 100 Areas of Christian Ministry:

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