Scot McKnight Explains “Missional”, Part Two

Here is part two of my interview with professor, author, and blogger Scot McKnight; for part one, click here. In this post, Scot discusses how church leaders can encourage missional motherhood amongst those in their congregations, and how to encourage missional mothers in the workplace.

Helen (HL): How would you suggest churches help the mothers in their congregations to embrace missional living?

Scot McKnight: Pastors can start asking women to give testimonies as to how they are serving. Many women are already missionally involved in other people’s lives. It takes a far-sighted or insightful pastor who says from pulpit and in different ways of teaching, “Here is a concrete example of how a mom is living in a missional way,” or to give suggestions along these lines.

Church leaders can encourage everyone in their congregations to pursue other-oriented service that ultimately leads to Jesus Christ. They can encourage moms in particular to get involved in public education, in local mother’s groups, in their workplaces, or in soup kitchens, to give just a few examples. Pastors can also encourage mothers to become intentional in helping her children to see and develop missional behaviors.

HL: You mentioned the workplace as being a potential missional context for mothers; how can the church help to encourage moms who are in the workplace to have a missional perspective and lifestyle?

McKnight: Women in the workplace need to ask that same central question, “How can I help?” Then, they can begin responding to the needs people have in that setting. It is fairly typical and traditional for men who have been involved in workplace ministry to offer something like a Bible study at lunch or before work. But it is not the same as being missional. I don’t want to demean it, but that type of ministry involves a little bit of Bible study and then prayer. A missional group would be more active as its members are truly striving to help others in their workplaces.

At the same time, I’m concerned about an overemphasis on parachurch groups versus a local church focus. Let’s say you get involved with a missional group at work. It’s officially now a parachurch ministry, and it’s going to take an investment of your time. If you travel to Chicago from the suburbs for work, for example, the ministry you do at work will not do much for local church, and I do not want to see a devaluing of local church ministry. We need to integrate parachurch with local church ministries. This is controversial for some, but I sense we need to re-examine this one much more thoroughly.

HL: What are some changes that have to happen in the church in order to help mothers to adopt a missional lifestyle?

McKnight: The big picture is that mothers have been doing the missional work of churches for a long time. But there are some strains of evangelicalism today that are so strongly male dominated that women-initiated ministries have been suppressed. Women in the church often have to gain the approval of the senior male pastor or the male elder board, and sometimes they experience roadblocks to the spontaneous ministries and ideas that they are creating in world today.

Although I don’t see much active discouragement towards mothers and women toward missional behavior, I will also say that I don’t see a whole lot of encouragement, either. This goes back to the original point, which is that a church has to embrace a missional theology before it is able to fully appreciate and encourage missional behavior in its members.

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Does your church intentionally encourage missional behavior in mothers, specifically? If so, how? I’d love to hear examples of what churches are doing in this area!

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