The deception of the “Missional Call”

by Mike Ratliff

36 Therefore let all the house of Israel know for certain that God has made Him both Lord and Christ—this Jesus whom you crucified.”
37 Now when they heard this, they were pierced to the heart, and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles, “ Brethren, what shall we do?” 38 Peter said to them, “ Repent, and each of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins; and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. 39 For the promise is for you and your children and for all who are far off, as many as the Lord our God will call to Himself.” (Acts 2:36-39 NASB)

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 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 where we could come to be recharged 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.”

1 Therefore I urge you, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship. 2 And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect. (Romans 12:1-2 NASB)

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:

18 And Jesus came up and spoke to them, saying, “ All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. 19 Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” (Matthew 28:18-20 NASB)

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!

12 thoughts on “The deception of the “Missional Call”

  1. Thank you Mike for shedding light on this “missional” darkness. It helps immensely when you explain how this deceptional movement operates.
    Over the weekend I met a woman at the annual company Christmas Party who is a enthusiastic supporter of ecumenism. When I explained to her that after God had mercy on me and saved me, I had to really consider whether I could go back to the RC church. I told her I could not because they do not preach The Gospel plus they teach a lot of absolutely unbiblical junk. She told me that they used to do that but they have changed are quite good now. She was wrong. It is still the same old lies. I told her the ecumenical movement does not adhere nor preach “The Gospel”, she didn’t know what I was talking about but did state that there were many denominations who had many good things to offer to unite us all.
    I wanted to get into it more with her but there were a lot of people coming and going around us plus my wife pulled me away.
    It made me think of how much deception is all around us and how the elect need to be diligent in watchfulness, to be faithful Bereans.


  2. Missional = trash. Same as drifting into sacramentalism, as when an evangelical perverts himself into a Roman Catholic. Same as with the Gnostic emergents. Same as with the Finney disciples. Such people are everywhere and claim Christ yet deny Him with their lives and worship.


  3. Yes indeed Manfred. I got into a very long and ugly back and forth yesterday with a couple of guys in a Calvinist discussion group. Both claimed to be Reformed. Both claimed to believe the same doctrines you and I believe, however, both were saying we need to venerate Mary. Both said she was a perpetual virgin, et cetera, et cetera, et cetera… Well, you know me, at the end of it they were calling me all sorts of names and that I was Romanan-phobic whatever that means. Neither of them would go so far as claiming they were R.C.C. and when I called the Pope the antichrist and the R.C.C. a cult they didn’t flinch, but they claimed venerating Mary was something the early Church did prior to R.C.C. and in the end, venerating Mary always points to Jesus as the Christ. My point, we don’t need to do that. We have the Word of God for that….


  4. I’ve just finished reading a very good book that warns about drifting into lies: Evangelicals Adrift – Supplanting Scripture with Sacramentalism, by Matthew E. Ferris. I will be writing a review on this book and posting it on DefCon in a couple of days.


  5. This post is very timely. There is a bible camp that the church we attend has supported for a very long time. Spiritual Formation has entered the bible camp and when my husband learned about it he informed the elders of our church who said they would bring the matter up at a meeting which was held last Saturday. On Sunday my husband asked one of the elders what happened when Spiritual Formation was brought up by them and he was told that they never brought up even though they said they would. Its very scary what the children who attend that camp in the summer are now being taught and those who have been warned of the danger do nothing. Its all about the camp being big business and what was once a Christ-centered bible camp is now nothing but fun, fun, fun, and dangerous teachings.


  6. Matt 1:24
    And Joseph awoke from his sleep and did as the angel of the Lord commanded him, and took Mary as his wife,
    Matt 1:25
    but kept her a virgin until she gave birth to a Son; and he called His name Jesus.

    Matt 13:55
    “Is not this the carpenter’s son? Is not His mother called Mary, and His brothers, James and Joseph and Simon and Judas?
    Matt 13:56
    “And His sisters, are they not all with us? Where then did this man get all these things?”

    So if Mary was a perpetual virgin…which Matt 1:25 says, no longer after the birth of Jesus, how can Jesus have 4 brothers and at least 2 sisters?

    One has to be willfully blind to reject the clear teaching of Sacred Scripture!


  7. Thank you Mike for this informative message. I left an SBC church for this very reason…the pastor announced in his monthly newsletter that we were now an “Incarnational Church.” This came out of the blue and no one was privy to the prior planning and organizing of this change. It was all done behind closed doors. “What’s an ‘Incarnational Church,” I asked? Interesting, no one really knew, they just went along following the pastor’s lead because they trusted him. After some homework, I came to understand that it is simply the repackaging of the ‘purpose driven lie.” I appreciate your explaining this serious error in more detail. Before I left the church, I warned a few brothers and sisters in the Lord about this danger/lie. I was now considered the problem. I left, they remain.


  8. Nancy, yes, that lie is insidious. I know how painful it is what you went through there, however, we are all called to take up our own crosses and follow Jesus. Standing up for His truth against the lies of evil men meant to deceive the flock is exactly that. Standing firm is something we do after counting the cost, which can be high, however, that cost is only here in the temporal. The rewards for standing firm are eternal.


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