Where Did the Term “Missional” Come From?

The term missional comes from the term mission: to go somewhere with a purpose. It is specifically used today as the latest iteration of how the church understands itself in regard to God’s relationship to the world and how God is working to redeem the world. The term is emerging as a result of the Western church coming to terms with its complicity in the colonization and oppression of the Global South throughout modern history. The Western church used to think of itself as the location in which people came to meet God. Missions was the task of the church to send particular people–called missionaries–out into the world to convert people and bring them into the church. Today, the missional church understands that the Triune God has a mission–missio Dei–to continually create and re-create and make all things new through the course of history. The church is gathered and sent by the Holy Spirit to be a sign to the world of what God’s way of loving co-existence and co-creativity–embodied in the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus–looks like in the flesh. We don’t often do a good job of this, but it is the calling of the church to engage the neighbor in the love of Jesus, see what God is doing in the world, and join God there.

The following Prezi traces the history of missiology–the study of missions–and tries to frame the current conversation around the missional church. I created this Prezi as a way to study for my comprehensive exams, so it has that emphasis. There is no prescribed order. You are invited to poke and zoom and explore as you desire. Enjoy.

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