Missional Pattern 7: Journeying Toward the Reign of God
The missional church understands its vocation within the context of the reign of God. The church has seen God’s rule in the past and present, and anticipates that in God’s future that reign will be fulfilled. Someday “every knee shall bow in heaven and on earth and under the earth” (Phil. 2:10).
The missional church has a “journey” mindset. It knows it has not yet arrived, but it is on the road to the reign of God. It knows that the church and the kingdom of God are not the same. It is not the reign of God, but points toward it. It is a sometimes fuzzy, sometimes clear picture of what God intends for the whole world. So the missional church is always engaged in its own transformation. Missional congregations are generally modest about how far they have come on the journey. They expect that the Spirit will transform them more and more into what God wants the church to be. They are open to change.
The missional church teaches its members about the reign of God. It is sometimes easy for the concept of the reign of God to get lost in countries that have no king or queen. Not everyone comes into the church knowing what the reign of God means. As the missional church trains its members, it tells them about the reign of God and teaches them the practices of the reign of God. This is a continuing process of discovery for the church.
The missional church is an instrument of the reign of God. What the church does in the service of the reign of God is determined by its missional vocation. Through this vocation, the church participates in God’s mission in the world. The church discerns what God is doing and joins God in that action, aligning itself with God’s purposes.
The missional church is a sign of the reign of God. By its life together and its witness in the world, the church demonstrates the character of life in the reign of God. Not only through its doing and speaking, but through its being, the missional church points toward the reign of God.
The missional church is a foretaste of the reign of God. In this age, the church still awaits the fulfillment of the reign of God. But the life and witness of the church now are a sample of God’s future. Missional congregations have hope in that future, in spite of the way things may look now. They experience tension, struggle, resistance to change, and exciting breakthroughs into new understandings of what it means to be a preview of the reign of God.