10 Marks of a Missional Church

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Mark Driscoll: "The mission of the church is nothing less than to bring the entire world to Christian faith and maturity."

What is the first thing that comes to mind when you think of missional churches? Is it cool young pastors with a few tattoos and unkempt hair? Did images of someone artsy pop up in your head?

There are countless things that probably came to mind. “Missional church” is a concept without one clear definition and readily applied to countless ministry activities. Although this is the case, the mission of the church isn’t hard to come by. It comes directly from the command of Jesus who said: “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” (Matt. 28:19–20). 

Jesus speaks of going, evangelizing, making disciples and planting churches that plant churches to continue the process. Therefore, the mission of the church is nothing less than to bring the entire world to Christian faith and maturity. A missional church must strategize how to carry out the mission to today’s increasingly non-Christian culture.

To this end there are 10 marks Gerry Breshears and I propose that characterize a missional church, one that is on God’s mission to make disciples of all nations. (Many of these marks are adapted from the book Missional Church).

1. A Missional Church Is a Biblical One

A missional church has a deep trust in and affection for the Bible. It seeks to anchor all of its teaching and life in the storyline of sacred Scripture.

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Because it’s biblical, a missional church contends with grace and humility for those parts of Scripture that are most essential to the gospel of Jesus Christ. In our day this means we contend for the doctrines older creeds (e.g., the Apostles’ Creed and Nicene Creed) defined, but also for biblical answers to newer assaults on biblical truth.

Lastly, the Bible reveals God’s plan of redemption through Jesus Christ. This is why missional churches should always, passionately and uncompromisingly be about Jesus as God, Savior, Lord, Hero and Friend.

2. A Missional Church Practices and Preaches Repentance

Since missional churches are biblical churches, they have a high view of preaching and teaching. In teaching God’s Word, leaders of a missional church regularly call believing sinners, unbelieving sinners and especially religious people to repentance.

Missional churches should not only preach repentance, but their leaders should set an ongoing example for the church by openly confessing their ongoing struggles and failures. The hope is to establish a culture of humility and honest repentance in the church for others to follow.

3. A Missional Church Goes into Culture

A missional church knows God has sent it on mission to a time, a place and a people. Paul stated this very fact to the Athenian court of Mars Hill in Acts 17, explaining how God not only created us, but he also determined when and where we would live. Missional churches know this and pay careful attention to where God has sent them.

Pastor Mark Driscoll is the Preaching and Speaking pastor of Mars Hill Church in Seattle. He is one of the world’s most downloaded and quoted pastors. His audience—fans and critics alike—spans the theological and cultural left and right. Follow his updates at twitter.com/pastorMark.

More from Mark Driscoll or visit Mark at http://www.marshillchurch.org/

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  • Gration Perera

    Excellent presentation that encapsulates vital need for the Christian church in the Year 2013 to engage in renewed dialogue with the Scripture which in turn sparks a dialogue with culture and its context.

  • John G. Innis

    Thanks for the Jesus taught his disciples, healing the sick, meeting the needs of the poor, speaking for justice for the oppressed and making sure that peace, love and unity become strong pillars of Christ’s church. Finally, a missional church is required to make the presence of Christ felt through out the world. Thanks Pastor Mark for the wonderful gifts of Jesus you have shared with those called to do the will of the Lord.
    John G. Innis, Liberia, West Africa

  • Ginklestinker

    To my mind, the Gospel mission has to start firstly with the individual believer bearing witness to the saving power of Jesus Christ. He alone is able to turn people from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan to God (Acts 26:18). The witnesses will begin immediately at their ‘Jerusalem’, and then move out into the community and beyond. They don’t NEED a congregation to function, but they are greatly blessed if they have the prayers and support of God’s faithful people. The local church/congregation’s main purpose is to facilitate these individual believers in their walk with Christ, by providing the enhanced dynamic of group Worship, Bible study, Soul saving and Fellowship. Of course, individual believers and congregations may well join with others to engage in larger projects to fulfil the ‘mission’ , but the effectiveness of the work always comes down to the soul-winning fire of the individual followers of Jesus Christ. This is where our focus should be .

    • Wendy

      I am Wendy P___. I am visiting to inform you of a Christian
      church where members have been sharing the good news of God’s kingdom here on
      earth. The news of Christ’s death as a ransom sacrifice for sinners everywhere
      and his resurrection from the grave to everlasting life with his Father in
      Heaven.

      We share from the Bible all our beliefs and CAN back up all that we share with
      people. We go out Daily to meet people and share this good news as Christ
      commanded of us in Matthew 24:13, 14. This has been going on for decades and we
      are now more than 7,000,000 strong and growing at a phenomenal rate as people
      are encountered, led to the truth by Bible study and Baptized into the truth.
      If you are interested contact Jehovah’s witnesses locally. They would be happy
      to discuss the truth with you IF you truly wish to discuss it with an open
      mind. The road into the truth is narrow and few are those who find it (Matthew
      7:14). Before they can enter on the narrow road, they must be witnessed to. So
      sad that the people of Christendom are only now starting to do this in any
      numbers, but they still do not get out in public much to do this, going town to
      town and house to house as the bible tells us to do, in Matthew 28:18-20. Read
      Matthew 10:5-15. Verses 16-42Warn of what we believers will go through on a
      daily basis if we go out to preach the good news as Christ did. We are accused
      daily and have to bear outrageous taunts and sometimes-physical attacks and legal attacks against us even though we live under the freedom of religion under the constitution of this country, just as you do. I make my choice not under that document, but under the words of Christ who tells me I will be the victim of intolerance and violence.

      I grew up in a Fundamental Christian church and I have been to just about all the Major faiths in the last 40 years. I know what most Christians believe about the faith and beliefs of Jehovah’s witnesses. I was wrong in what I knew. What I know now and believe now is the Bible. I have 10 translations and use them all in my studies and witnessing. What I have found is Biblically-based faith that is faith in action. I bear witness to people because I have found the truth and I want as many to find it as well–before it is too late for them. It is urgent that we witness to as many as we can. The Bible tells us – The harvest is ready but the workers are few. We pray for more workers. Do you?

      Thank you for your time.

      Wendy

      • Ginklestinker

        Wendy, the authentic Christian church consists only of those who believe in the divine nature of Jesus Christ ( He is Jehovah God, through whom and for whom the universe was made ), and who also put their full trust in His atoning work on the Cross for us sinners. This is the good news of the Gospel: that God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto Himself. In His earthly life, Jesus Christ displayed enough of His divine nature for people like Thomas to say: “My Lord and my God”. If anyone denies these essential teachings of the Gospel, they are still in darkness and in error, and without salvation. Come to-day !

  • Ben

    Happy new Year to all of the saints washed in the blood of Christ Jesus. the article that was written by Brother Driscoll, goes to show you that he is as much as man as we are not prefect but being perfected, Brother Ben

  • Tai Arogundade

    Dear Pastor, I love to read ur book from now on. I need ur advice on how to set up a tv program on the Youth and Women Ministry. Am Evangelist Tai Arogundade from Lagos, Nigeria. Tx

  • Ben

    Brother Driscoll, would you explain what is a believing sinner? I can understand unbeliever as a sinner. but how can believer in Christ be a sinner. Ben

    • Dustin

      1 John 1:8

  • Mar Komus

    Good article. As a general rule I take “missional” as a mainstream buzzword (like the words “mainstream” and “buzzword”) and so am not sure Mark would have had to use it at all.

    But I do like the article. Especially the sensitivity to those of us who aren’t married and often feel VERY unwelcome at “family” churches–not because they hate singles, but because we are treated as second tier or emotional cripples.

  • Festus Akinnifesi

    I enjoy the discourse by Mark above and its timely lesson. However, I am worried about Wendy’s attempt to present apostacy as a model of Christ and the Great Commission. For much as I know Jehovah Witness does not make disciples for Christ until it teach truth of the gospel. I dont care how many millions are being brainwashed by human deceptions. Heaven is open to those who will worship the Father in spirit and in truth.

  • Khadga B. Magar

    I am blessed by the article. Theme of the year 2013 is “Everyone A Missionary For Christ” that God gave me. So I already declared this morning 12:05 a.m. in the church. How can I have this book Pastor? I am Khadga from Nepal: Asia.

  • Newmn

    TRUTH!

  • Chip Ward

    Great points, Mark. I don’t know if you read people’s comments on here or not, but I pose one question to ponder: Is there a difference between a “Christian” and a “Missionary”? I’ve honestly wrestled with this for a long time. The purest form of the word Christian is being a Christ-follower. But what about a missionary? Is it another level of Christianity or is it a way to encourage those with a stronger faith to explore how God can use you? In some ways, I’ve never been a fan of that term “missionary”. It’s not really used in the Bible directly (like the word Trinity, but we use it.). I’d almost rather stay true to calling missionaries what Christ called them: Disciples. Just a thought.

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