Missional – Your Time Has Come

Hear Ye! Hear Ye!

I hereby announce an international competition to rid the ears of the godly of a peculiar modern ugliness. Everywhere I go (and I’ve recently been engaged on a quest to go just about everywhere) I’m hearing the word MISSIONAL used in church circles. It seems to me that this is a modern phenomenon and one from which we need to be freed.

How long, oh Lord, how long? How long will you let your church think it can succeed in bringing your love to the world whilst it mangles English grammar?

Is it not enough that we have kidnapped the word INTENTIONAL and used it for our own devices and desires. It was clearly a sin for whoever first added those two little letters to have created such a hybrid monster. Greater though was the sin of those who GIFTED it from one Christian community to another.

No, no, and a thousand times no. Missional will not do.

Yet the trouble is, what should we use instead? Is there a simple word or very short phrase that is more acceptable to holy earlugs than missional?

I declare a competition to find something else. Bring out your simplicity. Wash your spotless grammatical linen in public. Wear your loveliest past participles on your sleeve. Offer up your adjectives. Pour a gentle libation of adverbs before the altar of the Lord.

Please, please. Offer an alternative.

Suggestions welcome in the comments below.

A crown of laurel to the winner.


  1. I’m lost. What’s your issue with the word exactly? It just doesn’t ‘sound’ nice…or the fact that it’s a made-up word, or something else?

  2. Both.

    It is made up and ugly.

    We need to use the best language available not create an ugly subculture in which to hide.

    Oh, and by the way, when we’ve managed to get rid of MISSIONAL, UNCHURCHED is next.

  3. A quick glance at ‘missional’ on Google, it looks as if it should have been ‘missionarial’, but that might have led to confusion with sex manuals….and isn’t very pretty either. ‘Missionary: persons sent out as envoys’ – how about ‘envoyristic’? Sorry that’s not very helpful 🙂 I share your distaste for ‘smart’ new words – but so far no inspiration. And as for ‘the churchless’ – how does one cover, in an acceptable word or phrase, so many categories – ‘the disillusioned, the tired, the lazy, the undecided, the disparaging, the too busy, the spoiled for choice……..’?

  4. Rosemary Hannah says

    It is made up and ugly and too often (NB not always) indicates a desire to fill churches for the good of the said churches, rather than reaching people with news of a better and more exciting way to live, and enticing them to join worship one expects to fll them with wonder and awe.

  5. I would like to propose “purposeful”.

    Or else a great uprising and a reclaiming of the word “evangelical”.

  6. Justin Reynolds says

    How about ‘open’? And another word to stop using: ‘unbeliever’.

  7. David@Montreal says

    Kelvin: in addition to ‘made-up’ and ‘ugly’ (inauthentic) by sense is the word reflects outmoded patriarchal/imperialistic thinking. the closest we might come in our language to reflecting current realities and our vocation to being the living Body of Christ, might be, ’embodied’ which directly references the ‘life more abundantly’ our Lord calls us live out daily.

  8. Suz Cate says

    Missional beats the hell out of talking about the “E” word, which it replaces in church argot. Let’s say our churches evangelize, spread the Gospel, preach the good news that the kingdom of God has drawn near.

  9. The adjective meaning ‘pertaining to mission’ used to be ‘missionary’, surely?

  10. With my seminary classmates I just respond “how is that relative?” as in “where does this build or breakdown relationships?”.

    A relative church and a relative Christian is one willing to have relationship with individuals and institutions outside of their definition of church for the sake of that relationship. This is the same move for relationship inherent in the actions of God to the world in the life, death, and new life of Jesus Christ. It recognizes that God is working in the lives of those outside of the church institution as well as inside and that change, possibly radical change, needs to occur in both.

  11. Please don’t excommunicate me, but I actually way the word sounds. And on top of that, it makes me think that we’re on a mission…we have a goal. We have a job. I think of it like some quest 🙂

  12. Mission centred, focussed, orientated, full, inspired, imbued…..

  13. Rosemary Hannah says

    These awful words hide an inability to think clearly. Often missional hides proselytising. Perhaps we should ensure we are thinking about ‘altruistic’.

  14. Rosemary Hannah says

    ‘A missional church’ ‘A church sent to bring joy’.

  15. outgoing? open? encouraging? alive? living? On the whole, drifting through these before setting off on my travels, I think I like ‘living’. What use is the existence of a church if it does not encourage the possibility of faith?

  16. a ‘sharing, caring church’ – oh wait a minute, that’s the co-op….

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