English-speaking Christians, including many Southern Baptists, have increasingly used the word missional in recent years. This adjective has been used to describe individual believers, local churches, the church universal, and even God himself. The term has also elicted much controversy, in part because there is such a wide variety of churches and thinkers who embrace the missional label. Some Southern Baptists have been very hesitant to use the term, while others have unashamedly owned it, including several recent candidates for the Convention’s presidency.
Interestingly, the new SBC mission statement proposed by the Great Commission Resurgence Task Force incorporates the word: As a convention of churches, our missional vision is to present the Gospel of Jesus Christ to every person in the world and to make disciples of all the nations. If Southern Baptists are going to own this term in a formal sense, it would be helpful to clearly articulate what it means to be missional.
Between the Times has asked Keith Whitfield to help us think through this important question. Keith is the pastor of Waverly Baptist Church in Wavery, Virginia and a doctoral student in theology at Southeastern Seminary. His expertise is the intersection between theology and missiology, and its implications for local churches. We believe Keith is one of the sharpest young pastor-theologians in the SBC and we are pleased he has agreed to write for us on this important topic.
Beginning next Monday, we will publish a different article by Keith every weekday morning; five in all. The following week, Keith will offer a final article with some concluding thoughts. We hope these articles will make an important contribution to our public discourse in the SBC about the Great Commission, the nature and mission of the church, and the future of our network of Baptist churches.