by Mike Ratliff
“Let all the house of Israel therefore know for certain that God has made him both Lord and Christ, this Jesus whom you crucified.” Now when they heard this they were cut to the heart, and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles, “Brothers, what shall we do?” And Peter said to them, “Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. For the promise is for you and for your children and for all who are far off, everyone whom the Lord our God calls to himself.” (Acts 2:36-39 ESV)
When I was a new Christian, through many interlocking circumstances, I moved my family back to the same town in Oklahoma in which I had grown up. We joined a very traditional Southern Baptist Church just a block or so from our house. We remained there about 13 years. When we first joined, the emphasis there was evangelism. We supported missions through the SBC. We had annual mission trips to Mexico and Central America. We had a very well run Evangelism Explosion program that was tightly integrated into our weekly prayer and visitation programs. I went from a trainee to a trainer after a year or so. That emphasis on evangelism was always outward. We went into areas outside of the Church and evangelized. God blessed this sometimes by using us to bring people into the Kingdom. However, in the early 1990’s, as I have shared in this post, we lost our pastors and the man who replaced them changed our church drastically. The emphasis was no longer an outward facing evangelism. Instead, it was on reshaping the church to be more attractive to those outside. The emphasis on the Gospel was muted.
Instead of the church being the place we could come to recharge through being fed the Word of God, fellowship, prayer, and worship, we always had some slick media stuff going on and we soon learned to just stay out of the way. The Missional deception is a change of emphasis in a church from outward focused evangelism with inward focused spiritual growth to inward focused “evangelism lite” with little or no emphasis on the spiritual growth of the members. The Church was viewed by our pastor and his people as their “church plant” in our community from which they would be a missional focused church ministering to the seekers who came to see what all the fuss was about.
What is “Missional”? Is it the same thing as having a missionary focus like that church I used to belong to before its takeover by the Innovation Cult? No, it is different. The first way it is different is that it sees itself as “incarnational.” What does this mean? Instead of the focus being on the church and what goes on inside as far as worship, Bible Study, fellowship, and preaching, the emphasis is on being involved in the community. I saw this a great deal in that church I came from after the new pastor got full control. He got involved in everything in the local school system. He was continually promoting the programs and stuff we had going on at our church. He wanted us to rub shoulders with the unchurched, to get involved in their problems and work with them in making our town a better place. There is something about that that sounds nice, but is that what the Church is to be about? There was little to no emphasis on evangelizing. This was seen as our actively participating in the missio Dei, or mission of God. This view sees that one of God’s primary missions is the redemption of world back to its pre-fall state. Really? Is that the purpose of the Gospel?
The missional gurus know that to transform a church to this model requires some radical changes. I find it troubling that they all emphasize that it must begin with an emphasis on Spiritual Formation within the Church. This is contemplative prayer, mysticism, centering prayer, the blending of Eastern Mysticism and Yoga with Christianity. The proponents of this claim the purposes of this is the spiritual maturity of the people. I can guarantee you that the only spiritual change you will have with this stuff is to turn further and further away from God’s truth into deception. True Christian spiritual maturity is not gained through any of this stuff. Instead, it is comes as believers spend more and more time in prayer and surrender to the will of God. They learn His will through learning His Word. Romans 12:1-2 is a very good summary of this “process.”
I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect. (Romans 12:1-2 ESV)
None of this involves mysticism or yoga, et cetera. The transformation is a work of the Holy Spirit in the hearts of those whom He matures. It is not an instantaneous process. It takes time to become a living sacrifice whose focus is the glory of God rather than self fulfillment.
The emphasis of a “Missional” church will be community and meeting every need it can there rather than evangelizing it. This is not Biblical my brethren nor should it be the “mission” of the Church. They will always emphasize the amount of time the members in the Church spend with unbelievers in places outside of the Church. Show me that in the Bible. Also, there will be an emphasis in these churches to view other religions as just another way to God rather than in error. This is why there is little to no emphasis placed on evangelism.
My brethren, this is not Christian. It is not what the Church should be about at all. The Missionary focus of a true church is that it goes out to preach the gospel to an unsaved world headed toward judgment with emphasis on repentance for the forgiveness of sin found in the death and resurrection of Christ. This mission proclaims the absolute truth of the Gospel, which is proven by Jesus’ resurrection from the grave. The Greek word translated as “Gospel” means “Good News” and that is exactly what it is because it provides condemned sinners with a certain escape from God’s wrath.
The emphasis in being “Missional” is on an uniting the world religions around good works to make life on planet earth a paradise now according to the Emergents. However, this is not the true focus that God gave His Church. Instead, we are to gather around the teaching from God’s Word, praying, and fellowship (Acts 2:41,42). From this we are to go into the world preaching the good news of the Gospel, making disciples.
Follow this link to an article titled ‘What is “Missional”?’ that is all about being “Missional.” I want you to see the complete lack of focus on the Gospel in this. Incarnational or Missional churches are not about evangelism, but are about unifying with the various other “faith streams” out there to do good works to unify everyone so the world can be made a paradise. Then go read Acts 2 and show me how anyone can take those truths and come up with the Missional deception. They can do that because they are ignoring what God’s Word says because they do not believe it. They are in unbelief and are part of the Innovation Cult. This cult’s emphasis will never be the Gospel nor the growing of mature disciples according to the Word of God, obedient to Christ in all things, and walking in repentance. No, it will not be those things.
The Church needs to become refocused here:
And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” (Matthew 28:18-20 ESV)
Genuine salvation will always be accompanied by a growing spiritual maturity as believers are fed and discipled correctly. They will do good works, but the emphasis will always be this great commission, not being “Missional.”
Soli Deo Gloria!