Recently, I read Michael Frost's new book The Road to Missional. I assumed, from its title, that it would be a book about how a church moves along the road to becoming missional. But that's not really the case. I was pleasantly surprised by the fact that the book places a great emphasis on evangelism, specifically sharing the Gospel with unbelievers.
For some reason the topic of evangelism from a missional perspective is not been much of a focus. The reasons are many, including the fact that the evangelical church has spent so much time talking about how to talk to unbelievers that we have not spent nearly as much energy on how to "be" the church on mission for the sake of redemption of the world. So during the last decade, there has been much ink spilled over the call of the church to be on mission and not just talk about how to lead people to a point of praying a conversion prayer.
In addition, the missional conversation has rightly challenged the individualistic emphasis on the conversion of individual sinners that diminishes the call to be a part of a social and participatory movement. In the book Stormfront (an early resource on "missional") the team of authors write:
"The biblical understanding of salvation is that our lives become swept up into something larger and greater than ourselves, into God's purposes for the world." (34) With this statement they are challenging the common "sales pitch" approach to evangelism that "meets their needs" and invites people into a better individualistic life. They point out that salvation is about being incorporated into a people who are seeking to live out the reign of God.
But as Michael points out, this does not mean that those on the missional "road" should ignore the fact that we are called to actually talk about Jesus with individuals, invite them into a life with Christ and participate in this reign of God movement. We actuaslly have a mandate to "present" the gospel verbally, although we might do so in a different way than we've done in the past. This is the most significant contribution of this book to the missional conversation and because of this alone it is worth the time required to read it. I especially like how he is asking the question "what does the reign of God through Christ look like in my neighborhood?"He writes, "Our involvement with this restoration will include both our lips and our hands. It will involve evangelism, advocacy, peacemaking, worship, and proclamation as well as service, justice-seeking, healing, building, and feeding" (57).