I love how Brian McLaren outlines his development from the typical Evangelical understanding of mission as, “Making more Christians and better Christians” (a phrase I’ve always hated) to missional as, “To be and make disciples of Jesus Christ in authentic community for the good of the world.” He writes that this understanding of missional says, “Christians are not the end users of the gospel. It says that the gospel of Jesus is not ‘all about me'” (107). Amen to that!!!
Here are some more of his comments from the same chapter:
“This approach [being missional] gets rid of distinctions like ministry (what we do in the church) and mission (what we do outside it), since ministry is for mission from the start. For example, I seek to develop virtues not just for my own benefit, but so I can inflict less damage and more blessing on the world. I seek to better understand Scripture not just for my own sake, but so I’ll be better equipped to serve God and my neighbors. It also gets rid of terms like missionary and mission field, since now every Christian is a missionary and every place is a mission field.”
“One of my mentors once said to me, ‘Remember, in a pluralistic world, a religion is valued based on the benefits it brings to its nonadherents’… the gospel brings blessing to all, adherents and nonadherents alike.”
As McLaren says in another chapter, Jesus is saving the whole earth, not just individual souls who will go to heaven when they die. He is saving planet earth, its people and its history — all of God’s creation is being reconciled back to God (Col 1:19-20). Salvation, and the gospel that contains it, is simultaneously implementing God’s dream begun in Genesis 1 and 2 while rescuing it from the distortion of Genesis 3.