Roland Allen

What does a missional missionary do?

Paul established the Church in four provinces of the Empire, Galatia, Macedonia, Achaia and Asia. Before AD 47 there were no churches in these provinces; in AD 57 St. Paul could speak as if his work there was done, and could plan extensive tours into the far west without anxiety lest the churches which he had founded might perish in his absence for want of his guidance and support.

Roland Allen

When in 1912 Roland Allen wrote these words in his classic, Missionary Methods: St. Paul's or Ours? there was no need to explain what he meant by the term "missionary".

One hundred years later, there is no clear consensus of what "mission" is, and what it is not.

Some have a very broad understanding of mission. Thus a whole variety of activities can be "missional" — from aid and development, to political action, to drinking coffee with friends. You can even be a "business apostle."

Some reject the idea that mission has anything to do with conversion to faith in Christ or starting new churches.

So whenever I hear the terms “mission”, “missional”, and now “missional community”, I always ask: What does that mean? and What does it look like? I never cease to be surprised by the responses.