I am sitting on the back porch of a friend in Lynnwood, WA. Ann and I are here preparing to fly to So. California for a week-long training for Celebrate Recovery. We are beginning that ministry at College Church.

One of the challenges that the church of today faces more than anything is the loss of the 20 and 30 somethings in the church. Their reaction to "same old church" is quite startling. They desire to have an authentic encounter with God and feel that this is missing in much of what goes on in the church today. Couple that with the church's unwillingness to change to meet their need and we have a tragedy. This is one of the reasons that I have so passionately involved myself in the missional church movement coupled with the best of the emergent village material

Often people ask me "what is missional church?" The following article will provide some light. Below is a very interesting read that my friend Robin Dugall posted on his blog. He says very clearly what I would have said.

“…the missional church…is a renewal movement. I see it as a moving of God’s Spirit within the Western church at a very critical time in its history. We find ourselves (most Christians probably agree on this) in a time of decline. Churches in the West are in trouble: internal dissensions, the failure and discouragement of leadership, loss of our youth, widespread negative perceptions of Christians by outsiders, and the death of many congregations. Just the kind of dry-bones situation where the breath of the Spirit often begins to blow!

(but)…I am impatient for the transformation, and that’s where the trouble begins . . .I imagine those of us in the missional church movement sometimes sound a bit
(critical) to believers perplexed by massive changes in the church and culture, and are not sure “missional” is the way to go. They may hear the message as, “move out of the way,” “get with the program,” “admit you are wasting your time,” or something equally uncharitable. To them the missional discussion seems like just another way to “diss” the past. When missional leaders point out current problems in the church, they often appear to have an arrogant disregard for what God has already done—as if the Holy Spirit has been totally absent for the last century and nothing of eternal significance has really been accomplished! Good people thus feel attacked and undervalued, their contributions unwelcome and unneeded. I suspect most renewal movements, whether by intention or misunderstanding, have conveyed such messages.

To those who have felt attacked, I apologize. The point is not to discredit the sincere and often productive endeavors of the past, but to ask, "How can we be faithful to the gospel in the new cultural situation of the 21st century?" Of course any attempt to answer this question involves evaluation of our current situation and some level of critique of the current state of the church. (But we)…need to remind (ourselves) that if this is indeed a movement of the Spirit of God, it will make its way among the people of God with power and certainty.

Another problem many people detect in renewal movements is a prideful spirit. In the case of the missional movement some folks have sensed a triumphalist spirit among its proponents, as if we are saying, "This is THE ANSWER, we have found THE WAY, wisdom now resides with US!" Certainly triumphalism in all its forms is divisive and offensive. To the degree that missional church leaders are guilty of this, we need to repent. Triumphalism is not helpful and does not honor the Lord or his people. However, I would like to offer a note of caution to those who think the missional church is triumphalistic and who are tempted to dismiss the movement on that basis. Part of what initially attracted me was the willingness of missional leaders to admit that they did not have all--or even many--of the answers to the problems facing the church today. The point is that this discussion is not about having all the right answers, but rather trying to identify the most important questions before the church--and working toward biblically and theologically sound answers.”

It is our purpose at the Institute for Missional Directions that we maintain a humble and yet challenge spirit. We know that we don't have all of the answers, we are on a journey of discovery. The challenge, however, is great. What will happen to the church in the next 10 to 20 years? I know, Christian history has taught us that God had a way of preserving his church. Interesting enough a thorough read of Church History announces the reality that most of this "saving" of the church takes place in reformative ways. The question before us today is whether we move into and embrace the changes needed.