What does it mean to be a missional church in light of Pentecost? While most of the missonal church discussion is within the evangelical traditions, there is something about it in Pentecostal circles.
Let me be clear: I am a missiologist. My expression of theology is the completion of the Great Commission. I think evangelistically. To be fair, a biblical view of a pastor would see this differently. I am concerned with how the gospel to go to every people groups in our lifetime. This is important to understand.
What we are discussing here is not new, it has been developed since the 1970’s in some form. Missionaries have used this for decades. In more recent years, there has been popular works like Breaking the Missional Code by Ed Stetzer that helps bring understanding to the subject.
However, to date, there is very little popular or academic work on the idea of what means to be missional from the Pentecostal tradition. One of the reasons for this is that we are much better at doing theology than we are telling people what we have done. We are much more a doing people than an explaining people.
The Triune Missional Church
There is three areas that we must have to be a biblical, missional Pentecostal church. If any of these are missing or weak, we are not being faithful to be a biblical expression of the New Testament church.
The foundation of all things related to the Church must be theology. Pure theology is knowing Jesus and the power of the resurrection. Therefore, theology is not just quote doctrines but knowing the author of the scriptures, Jesus through the Spirit of God. Without theology, we are nothing more than a social club!
However, we must relate to each other to be the Church. Over and over in the Book of Acts it says they had all things in common. They lived together, they worshipped together, they prayed together, they had revival together. Community has been taken way out of context in recent years but the truth is that is does have a place in the church life of the believer. Without it, you have evangelism but not the apostolic Church!
The mission of God or the Great Commission is critical and required by the Church. If you are not living on mission and in mission; you are not being a biblical example of the apostolic church found in the Book of Acts. Testifying is second nature to a biblical follower of Jesus. With mission, all we have is education!
When all three of these come together and are of equal importance, the biblical concept of a Church is present and healthy. It is in his place that the Spirit comes and lives are changed by the presence of God. Any less than this is not what the Apostles would have understood as normative.
This is the missional church in light of Pentecost. We need it more now than ever!
Speaking the language!
As a missionary, the most important than you will learn is the language of where you plan to minister. Just like you would learn Spanish to reach the people of Mexico; you also have to learn the cultural language of your city.
This does not mean you water down the gospel to “reach them.” Without the uncompromised gospel, you have nothing to reach them with. The message is sacred and the avenue to reach cultural indigenous people is relating to them in their lingo!
I work with the homeless in Kansas City often. If I were to talk to them as I do someone in the richer parts of Kansas City, I would never seen them come to the foot of the Cross. In the same way, I can’t preach to most upper class white congregations how I speak to the homeless.
The key to being a missional church as Pentecostal, is allowing the cultural barriers to be broken so the sacred message of Jesus saves, heals, and delivers flow freely and lives are changed by the Spirit.
Let’s assume that you want to reach Korea Town in Los Angeles. You would spend time eating at restaurant that are Korean, shop at their stores, visit their cultural locations and you would visit the churches there to understand what the local understanding of culture is, right?
The same is true no matter where you are called to. If you are ministering to a wealthy area of Nashville; you would do the same things to understand the cultural language that relates to them. This is being the missional church!
Hermeneutics informs Missional church
One of the first classes that I took in bible college was hermeneutics. This is how to interpret biblical texts. However, I realized later than the same questions that need to be asked also work for missiology.
The first, and most important, is what did a text mean to the culture at the time. Being a missional church, you must ask the question of culture first and foremost. If you miss the culture question, you miss everything and your church has lost its’ voice.
The next question is about history. When looking a text, you look at it means historically. In missiology, you ask what has been done in the past to reach these people and how has it failed? You learn from the people who have gone before you just like you do in biblical interpretation.
The final question you ask about a text is about grammar. How does it fit into the bigger picture. When looking at a missional church issue, you have to ask how does it fit into the larger Missiology of the city, region or nation.
As you rightly divide the mission field you are called to as a congregation, you will have clarity that you did not have by applying the most basic things we learn in bible college.
Now, the question becomes if your Pentecostal church wants to be a mission community or they are happy with just having education (theology + family)?