Missional Spirituality — thoughts and reading from Revd Martin


At St Philip's, we began our thinking on Missional Spirituality in Sunday sermons from our Rector, the Reverend Martin Johnson.

Martin writes:

One of the texts I am reading in preparation for our project is Missional Spirituality: Embodying God’s Love from the Inside Out, by Roger Helland and Len Hjalmarson (IVP Books, 2011). Part of the book endeavours to answer the question: ‘What are the elements of “missional” spirituality? What are the major elements of standard spirituality?’

One of their key New Testament texts is John 4:34: “My food,” said Jesus, “is to do the will of him who sent me and to finish his work.”

If Jesus’ spirituality is to do the will of the missional aim of the Father, and if he is determined to accomplish that, then Christlikeness is about entering into Jesus’ own missional sending by the Father. Spirituality is about mission. It cannot be reduced to our personal relation to God, but must be connected to what God is doing in this world and entering into God’s mission.

Unfortunately “missional” has become something of a buzz word, but it’s too important for that. Helland and Hjalmarson define it:

“Missional” means to participate in God’s mission as God and we work out God’s will in the world. Perhaps for some that ‘and we’ is surprising!

“Spirituality”, Helland and Hjalmarson write, means to live in and by the Holy Spirit.” “To be genuinely spiritual is not institutional.” They contrast missional spirituality with its polar opposite, Temple spirituality.

Temple spirituality is: Contained in buildings; missional spirituality is not.

Temple spirituality is: ‘Dualistic’ in that only Sunday is sacred, God is church-based we worship once a week. Missional spirituality hallows each day; Jesus is the ‘mobile Messiah.’.

Temple spirituality builds around priests and rituals; missional spirituality commissions all to be priests.

The Christendom model builds churches and forms pastors/leaders to function in the church; missional spirituality expands what “church” means.

Helland and Hjalmarson quote Churchill: “We shape our buildings; and afterwards our buildings shape us.” They sum up: “a missional spirituality is an attentive and active engagement of embodied love for God and neighbour expressed from the inside out”.