In my last post, I passed on to you the startling critique of the missional church movement by Mike Breen, one of the leaders of that movement. “We are a group of people addicted to and obsessed with the work of the Kingdom, with little to no idea how to be with the King.” See the entire post here: http://storiesfromtherevolution.blogspot.com/2011/09/why-missional-movement-will-fail.html
This made me think of a comment by Lesslie Newbigin (theologian, author and missionary in India) in his Foreword to a biography of Roland Allen.
“Missionary thinking is still pervaded by Pelagianism. Mission is conceived as a task, rather than as a gift, an over-spill, and an explosion of joy.” (Pelagius was a fourth century British monk who believed that salvation could be achieved entirely through human effort.)
Newbigin goes on to say…
At the center of (Roland) Allen’s message was the conviction that the Holy Spirit is the active agent in the Christian mission. For him Pentecost was the key for the understanding of mission. Allen could write about the “Spontaneous Expansion of the Church” because he saw it, not as a human enterprise, but as a divine activity. To understand that, is to be delivered from the anxieties, the burdens and the sense of guilt which so often forms the atmosphere of discussion about mission.” Roland Allen: Pioneer, Priest, and Prophet, xiii. (See photo of Allen.)
If Allen is correct (and I think he is), the reason that the Church is not more missional is not for lack of knowledge and exhortation about mission. Rather, it is because individuals and churches do not know how to have an intimate, conversational relationship with the Holy Spirit (the “active agent” of mission). Or, as Mike Breen writes, they have “little to no idea of how to be with the King”.
Get people genuinely and deeply connected to the Holy Spirit and mission will be, as Allen would say, the spontaneous and natural result.