Thursday, 25 April 2013

Unpacking the M-word:

Unpacking the "M-word":  a select Missional-English glossary
(with appreciation to Don Watson's books:  Death Sentence, Weasel Words, and Bendable Learnings)

Missional is a language spoken by many people in some churches, particularly by synod staff, Presbytery Ministers, and ministers of “regional” or “strategic” congregations.   The following selected glossary is provided as a service to enable non-Missional speakers to understand some key words and concepts in Missional.


Bandy:                                                Revered, semi-mythical source of wisdom, as in the phrase “Bandy says …”.  During much of the 1980s and 90s, the equivalent phrase was “Callahan says…”.  (See “Callahan’.)

Café-Style Worship:             (1) Having morning tea during the worship service.  (2) Having the worship service during morning tea.  Café-style worship is the “Fresh Expression” you have when you don’t have any fresh ideas of what to do.  (See “Fresh Expressions”.)

Callahan:                                           (See “Bandy”.)

Contextual:                                        (See “Maintenance Ministry”.)

Data Projector:                                  In English, a data projector is an expensive electronic toy with a high likelihood of malfunctioning whenever used in a worship service.  In Missional, a data projector is a necessary fashion accessory for any congregation engaging in “Fresh Expressions”.  (See “Fresh Expressions”.) 

Emerging Church, The:                   (See “Fresh Expressions”.)

Fresh Expressions:                For some Missional speakers, the preferred phrase is “Fresh Expressions of Worship”, while others prefer “Fresh Expressions of Church”.  “Fresh Expressions” refers to anything done in church that is likely to annoy the majority of worshippers.  “Fresh Expressions” frequently involve a data projector.  (See “Data Projector.)  If you want to start doing “Fresh Expressions” but are at a loss as to what to do, there’s always “Café-style worship”.  (See “Café–Style Worship.)  Congregations that do a lot of “Fresh Expressions” every week without anyone throwing things at the worship leaders are part of “The Emerging Church”.

Maintenance Ministry:                     A style of ministry to a congregation that tries not to annoy the majority of the people already in the congregation.  In Missional, “maintenance ministry” is a seriously bad thing.  If you want to speak about “maintenance ministry” in a positive way, you should always refer to the ministry as “contextual”.

Mega-Church:                                   A regional congregation on steroids.  (SeeRegional Congregation.)

Missional:                                           A term used by churchy-bureaucratic types to identify themselves to each other in mixed company, somewhat like the handshakes used by various fraternal organisations or the use of “justwanna” by some evangelicals. 
(Please note:  just as it is acceptable to count “justwannas” in a prayer, it is also acceptable to count “missionals” in a report at a presbytery or synod meeting.  However, there's a far lower annoyance threshold with “missional” than with “justwanna”:  ten “missionals” in five minutes allow the listener to throw their report papers in the general direction of the speaker, while normal liturgical etiquette requires waiting for at least sixteen “justwannas” in two minutes before throwing things.)  

“M-Word”, The:                               “Missional”, as in the sentence: “I liked your report, particularly the way you managed to use the ‘M-word’ eight times in five minutes.”

Regional Congregation:                    In English, this is any congregation where the worshippers include people who live outside the congregation’s immediate neighbourhood (in other words, most churches).  In Missional however, a “regional congregation” is a big church with multiple worship services, generally one that’s pretty conservative in its theology (although not big enough or conservative enoughto be a mega-church.  See “Mega-church”.)  Other than a token traditional service at an inconvenient time, a “regional congregation” does a lot of “Fresh Expressions” in its worship.  A “regional congregation” is what a “strategic congregation” wants to be when it grows up.  (See “Strategic Congregation.)

Strategic Congregation:        As the word “strategic” in English is based on the word “strategy”, you may think that a “strategic congregation” is a congregation that thinks about what it does before it does it.  However, in Missional, a “strategic congregation” is merely a congregation that’s trying to become a “regional congregation”.  (See “Regional Congregation.)  Not only is the minister of a “strategic congregation” normally a fluent Missional speaker, “strategic congregations” usually have a few Missional speakers among their key lay people, which helps explains the success of “strategic congregations” in writing successful applications for BOMAR funding. 

Obviously, this is not enough training in Missional to get you a call as a Presbytery Minister or a minister of a “strategic congregation”.  It may be enough, though, to assist you if you need to read a congregational profile or to write an application for a BOMAR grant.

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