Discipleship is the key to missional because it is discipleship — the process of forming a human into Christlikeness — that determines the shape of what the Christian will look like. So, we need to look at what folks are aiming at when they “disciple” someone. What is the goal?
Roger Helland and Len Hjalmarson, in their new book, Missional Spirituality: Embodying God’s Love from the Inside Out, are out to help form disciples into a missional Christlikeness.
What are the elements of “missional” spirituality? What are the major elements of standard spirituality?
One of their key NT texts is John 4:34:
“My food,” said Jesus, “is to do the will of him who sent me and to finish his work.”
If Jesus’ spirituality is to do the will of the missional aim of the Father, and if he is determined to accomplish that, then Christlikeness is about entering into Jesus’ own missional sending by the Father. Spirituality is about mission. It cannot be reduced to our personal relation to God, but must be connected to what God is doing in this world and entering into God’s mission.
I don’t believe “missional” is a buzz word. It’s too important for that. So they define it: “Missional means to participate in God’s mission as he and we work out his will in the world. [That “and we” surprised a bit. I’ll see where they take us.] Spirituality means to live in and by the Holy Spirit” (26). Then this: “To be genuinely spiritual is not institutional.”
They contrast missional spirituality with their polar opposite, Temple Spirituality. Here are some of their contrasts:
Contained in buildings; missional is not.
Dualistic in that Sunday is sacred; missional hallows each day.
God is church-based whom we worship once a week; Jesus is the mobile Messiah.
Builds around priests and rituals; missional commissions all to be priests.
The Christendom model builds churches and forms pastors/leaders to function in the church; missional expands what “church” means.
They quote Churchill: “We shape our buildings; and afterwards our buildings shape us” (27).
In sum: “a missional spirituality is an attentive and active engagement of embodied love for God and neighbor expressed from the inside out” (31).