#GodWhoSends: Missions vs. Missional

God Who Sends by Dr. Francis Dubose“Missions? This is something we pay others to do. And pray for others to do. And they go. And thank God they go. But is the Christian mission an elitist vocation? Is this what the Bible says? Is this what we sense from Jesus?

“Where have we missed the meaning of our pilgrim faith? Why has the biblical meaning of mission so escaped us? Where did we abandon the legacy of the Jesus way? We live before the mystique of the missional vision. But we seem to be able to keep it a vision — a vision at a safe enough distance to keep us from being compelled by its power.

“Do we not need to move closer, to move within the reach and influence of that vision? Do we not need a fresh quest for the meaning of this missional vision — and especially a renewed understanding of our relationship to it?”

—Dr. Francis DuBose, God Who Sends: A Fresh Quest for Biblical Mission (p. 14)

Post your thoughts/reflections in the comments and/or tweet them using the hashtag #GodWhoSends

  • http://www.thecommonplace.org Keith Adams

    Missions is what we do, or as the writer states pay others to do. I find the word a strange word. To me it is kind of a dumbing down of the word mission. To me mission is an exciting almost romantic word about being sent on an adventure. Toss an “s” on it and it looses something for me. It becomes almost business like. Missional is who we are, what we live as people on a mission. It describes the essence of mission and applies it to us. By the squiglly line I always get when I type it, it is a new invention in popular culture but as an adjective form of mission I think it suffices. The word is our attempt to take everything that is meant when we speak of a God who sends and apply it to the ones sent. It is an incarnational word. It describes in aspiration what God’s people are, even if we rarely live it. I for one seek to live into the adjective, missional.

    • http://www.missionalshift.com Steve Knight

      You’re actually one of my missional heroes, Keith! I think it’s an interesting distinction DuBose is making between “missions” being something other people do (or, as you re-stated, something we pay other people to do!) and “missional” being our own living out of “the legacy of the Jesus way.” I’ve just never heard it described exactly that way, but I think I like it ;-)

  • Miguel Labrador

    As a “missionary,” I’ve struggled with this concept much. I’ve come close to reconciling this by understanding that there might just be a difference in Apostolic Workers and the general missional import of all believers. Some, as in my case, are sent in a specific time, to a specific people, or a specific place. Others are not.

    That said, I like what Hugh Halter says: “Best way to say ‘missional’ is to say ‘missionary-ish’

    • http://www.missionalshift.com Steve Knight

      thanks for sharing your thoughts here, Miguel!

  • Lupe Geiss

    I work in a field where you cannot use the word. So I call myself as a self exiled pilgrim and student of and on the journey where CHRIST chooses me to be and where HE wants me to go in His way and with HIS purposes by HIS means of faith and grace.

    • http://www.missionalshift.com Steve Knight

      thanks for sharing a little about your journey here, Lupe! I wish you all the best wherever you are.

  • http://against-a-brick-wall.blogspot.com Linda Ford

    It’s interesting to see what you’re taking from that book, Steve, bringing back a lot of memories of important challenges and ideas that helped shape me in seminary. I think this particular quote is really interesting in light of Dr. DuBose’s own experience. He was denied the opportunity to be paid to do “missions” in the strictest sense by one arm of his own denomination because of his openness to an expression of faith that was considered heretical at the time. A painful experience for him, as I recall, but it opened his eyes to a theological perspective about the mission of Jesus and our participation in it that I believe is still very critical for the church to grasp. Dr. DuBose lived by this conviction and the lives he impacted throughout his years of ministry in cities across the country are countless. His unwavering commitment to living the gospel, whether affirmed as doing “missions” or not, has on more than one occasion helped me to get some perspective on my own experiences with churches.

    Keith’s comment about the “s” added on to mission is precisely a point that Dr. DuBose drove home in his classes. If you ever dared write the word “missions” in a paper in his class, you paid for it. :)

    • http://www.missionalshift.com Steve Knight

      great insights and backstory, Linda, thank you!


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