Book Review: Introducing the Missional Church

Reviewed by Steve Manskar

Introducing the Missional Church: What It Is, Why It Matters, How to Become One
by Alan J. Roxburgh and M. Scott Boren
Baker Books, 2009
ISBN 978-0801072123

In their introduction to Introducing the Missional Church: What It Is, Why It Matters, How to Become One, the authors quote Dr. Rowan Williams, the Archbishop of Canterbury:

“It is not the church of God that has a mission. It’s the God of mission that has a church.”

The authors continue, “[Williams] is saying God is at work in the world to redeem creation, and God invites us to participate in this mission. God is not interested in getting more and more people into the institutional church. Instead, the church is to be God’s hands and feet in accomplishing God’s mission.” These lines capture a definition of “missional church.”

A Gift to Church Leaders

Roxburgh and Boren have given a gift to church leaders who understand that we live in a post-Christian, post-Constantinian, postmodern world that regards the church to be irrelevant and out of touch. They offer a vision of the church that turns the church as we know it upside-down. The missional church understands that it belongs to God and exists to serve with Christ in the world that God loves. The missional church aligns its mission with Jesus’ mission summarized in Mark 1:15, “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God has come near; repent and believe the good news.”

Introducing the Missional Church has its roots in an earlier book, Missional Church: A Vision for the Sending of the Church in North America, edited by Darrell L. Guder, published in 1998. The latter was a project published by the Gospel in Our Culture Network. However, its impact has been limited because it is perceived to be too academic and theoretical. Alan Roxburgh served on the Missional Church writing team. Introducing the Missional Church is his attempt to help pastors and church leaders apply the ideas presented in the earlier volume in their context.

Become Missional Step-by-Step

Roxburgh and Boren do an excellent job of helping the reader understand what it means to be a missional church. They then provide a step-by-step process designed to help new and existing congregations become missional in their identity and ministry in the world.

This book is particularly relevant for United Methodist congregations interested in reclaiming their Wesleyan DNA. I say this because the Wesleyan Methodist movement was, at its heart, a missional movement. Introducing the Missional Church is a resource that will give you a language and strategy for helping your congregation make the shift from “church-centeredness” to a Christ-centered community that is a sign and foretaste of the present and coming reign of God.


This review is shared from the General Board of Discipleship of the United Methodist Church. Please visit the original article for more information and related resources. Copyright General Board of Discipleship. Used by permission.