Missional Does Not Equal Young

On Actscelerate, “Missional” seems interchangeable for young, hip, loud. NOT SO.

Being missional is being like Hudson Taylor of the Inland Chinese Mission. He dressed, ate, and spoke like the Chinese in order to share Jesus in a transformational way. He immersed himself in the Chinese culture for the sake of Christ and the love of China.

Our pastors in the COG are aging. But, so is America. Rather than watching our pastors get down on themselves as they cross some imaginary age line, we should use the credibility of age to our advantage. Here in S. Florida, there are tons of 55+ communities. These places are itching for a church that targets their demographic.

We need “old” guys doing church plants to reach these people with music and ministry focuses that speak to their hearts. These communities are jam packed with money for the mission of Jesus. With new advances in medicine, these communities battle with STD’s, infidelity, and relational heartbreak. There are amazing opportunities to share the love of Jesus with a rapidly growing demographic.

Maybe instead of retiring or looking toward the end of our ministry road, we need to rally an army of church planters that can reach this demographic in a big way.


9 Responses

  1. Retirement… What’s that?
    While I understand that many ministers do retire, I don’t see how. Most organizations have little to no retirement benefits. Perhaps that’s why some guys hang on too long. But I like your idea here. I’m sure Florida has a ton of retired ministers that could team up and do some church planting. I’ve never been a fan of “old guys” putting themselves out to pasture to do nothing. There is a wealth of knowledge us wipper snappers could gain from.

  2. Good words! Yes missional has nothing to do with age, style or model; it is about understanding the nature/essence of the church as the sent people people of God who are called to participate with what He is doing in the world. Look forward to keeping an eye on your site. Keep up the good work.

  3. Thanks, Brad…enjoyed your stuff as well.

  4. What are some good examples of missionality?

    Get away from the relevant buzz word as its associated with blue jeans, spiked hair, and goatees. What are some of the great missional people, movements, ministries that come to mind?

  5. My understanding of being missional is doing whatever it takes to reach the people in your community. What works in a small town in Oklahoma may not work in Miami, Florida or New York, New York. It takes time to get to know your community and to build trust. People care less about what missional “looks” like and more about how it changes their life.

    Love this site, its full of great info.


    I don’t think anyone would argue with me that the Baptist denomination, at least in the southeast, is the dominate force among evangelical churches. In my region (Chattanooga, TN), that is definately the case. The pastor of one of the largest Baptist churches in Bradley County, the county the COG has its headquarters in, produced a staggering report I’d like to share with you. These #’s are based on the last US census report…

    1. Bradley county grew by 14,753 people, but the net gain of all baptist churches in the county was 24.
    2. In 2001, 74% of all SBC churches baptized less that 10 people.
    3. In 2003, 14,000 of the 43,500 SBC churches batized either 1 or 0 people.
    4. In Nashville, TN the SBC experienced a decline in membership while the city grew by 14%.
    5. The SBC brags about the 20,000,00 people affiliated with their denomination in the US, but 8,000,000 of them are unaccounted for, and 4,000,000 of them have not become members.

    The problem above is not just in baptist churches! Practically every mainline denomination in America is experiencing membership decline….
    United Methodist -16%
    Presbyterian -20%
    Episcopal -20%
    Disciples of Christ -42%
    Church of Christ -15%

    Between 80–85% of all churches across all denominations are plateaued or declining. David Barrett says that more than 53,000 people leave the church each week never to return. Only 17% of all Protestant churches have more than 200 or more adults attending weekly services across America.

    In 1991, 24% of American adults were unchurched. In 2002, the figure jumped to 34%. In September of 2004, the barna group reported that the number of unchurched American adults is currently 75,000,000, a 92% increase in only 13 years.


    According to Thom Rainer in his book, The Bridger Generation, here are some sobering facts about the ineffectiveness of the American church in reaching the rising generation….

    BUILDER GENERATION (born b4 1946) 65% Christian
    BOOMER GENERATION (born 1946-64) 35% Christian
    BUSTER GENERATION (born 1965-76) 15% Christian
    BRIDGER GENERATION (born 1977-94) 4% Christian

    The church in America has only reaced 4% of those under the age of 27! Church cannot continue in the “business as usual” mode of operation. If we do, the church in American will not survive another generation.


    It is time for the American COG to make a crucial decision. Are we gonna go fishing, or just keep maintaining the aquarium of fish we caught 3 generations ago?

    I’ve been a fishing nut and know what it takes to succeed at fishing. You have to catch fish on their terms. You get a boat, tacking, rods, reels, clothes, etc. designed to make you effective. You put on hip waders and go out into the raging stream where the trout are! You don’t sit in the boat with the anchor down hoping the fish will find your boat and jump in.

    I’m 40 years old and can be missional minded. All it takes if for me to think like a fish. I don’t become the fish, I do what it takes to reach the fish in his culture and environment.

    Its time for the COG to pull up the anchor take the boat in for an overhaul, and get ourselves equipped to reach today’s fish! Or we can keep sitting around waiting on those 27 and under to jump into our denomination and be transformed into what we have been the past 100 years?

    Insanity is defined as continuing to do what you’ve always done and expect different results!

  8. Mike,

    Great posts! You have clearly illustrated how serious the situation is for the Christian church in America, not just the COG. There is still a place for traditional churches. However, the majority of our churches and church plants should adopt a missional paradigm so they can reach the unchurched in their community. If we refuse we will continue to decline and it will be up to the Indonesian and Korean church to come to the US as missionaries and reach our neighbors.

    I’ve been reading John Maxwell’s new book called the “Difference Maker” and in the chapter on change he says that he used to think change was difficult for everyone but leaders. But now he thinks change is difficult for leaders too. Unless it its your idea. I think he has a good point. We need to be prayerful and function in love as we seek to help our church shift paradigms.

  9. Really good post…thank you!!!

    I don’t know anything about the scene on actscelerate, I have never found it remotely interesting.

    But as a young church planter in the COG, I have often observed that we have only 2 massive categories of “old” and “progressive.” The fact is, there is as much divergence among those of us who wear jeans on Sunday morning as those who wear suits! And certainly some of my most kindred spirits in ministry are twice my age.

    The emphasis on style over substance, the superficials of image management is truly old and should be actively rejected by ministers of any generation.

    I embrace the term “missional,” dislike the overuse of “relevant,” and want to see more play for the word “faithful.” Fidelity means we will be relevant in the deepest sense of the word. It means also that being missional will have as much to do with going ancient and deep than fast and loud.

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