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Institutional v. Missional: 12 Marks of the Missional Church

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I found a great article from the Acts 29 church planting network on the Missional and Institutional church.  The article is written with an overview of terms and cultural contexts from which the terms arise.  If the terms “institutional” and “missional” don’t make much sense to you when applied to the church, this article will help.  It’s well worth your time, if you choose to read it.

Though I am unconvinced the Missional Church’s worship must be unpredictable and messy (sounds like chaos?) as described in point 12, I would agree that routine within worship kills.

At the end of the article, the reader is given an opportunity to evaluate the church of which they are a part by judging 12 markers of either the Missional Church, the Evangelical Church or the Institutional Church.  Just to whet your appetite, here are the 12 marks of the Missional Church:

The Missional Church:

1. Sent by God as missionaries in their own culture (Mt. 4:19).

2. Exists to take Christ to the lost: Go to the world (Mt. 28:18-20).

3. Members are personally engaged in their communities (Acts 16:20; 17:6).

4. Submerged into its culture like Christ (Luke 7:34).

5. Main focus is training and equipping others to be missionaries (Eph. 4:11-16).

6. Dependent upon Holy Spirit to use individuals as agents for evangelizing (Acts 1:8).

7. Develops relationships with the lost on purpose (Matt. 5:13-16).

8. Relationships are the means to influence others in their journey toward Christ (John 1512-17; 1 John 4:19-21).

9. The goal is to help others find Jesus in their own way and timing (1 Cor. 9:20-23).

10. Participants are affected in every way through a calling by God to be an agent for the gospel (Acts 4:13, 31-35).

11. Faith is practiced in community – groups of people together (Acts 2:42-45; Phil. 1:27).

12. Worship is unpredictable, spontaneous, Spirit-directed and messy (John 4:23-24).

The Evangelical Church:

1. Has a program of missions alongside numerous activities of the church.

2. Exists as a place for the lost to find Christ: Come to the Church.

3. Members are supportive of mission efforts.

4. Separated from its culture as a holy quest.

5. Main focus is supporting mission works – mainly overseas.

6. Dependent upon altar call and big events as its main tool for evangelization.

7. Knows a few lost people and prays for their salvation.

8. Uses marketing techniques & business principles to draw people to a corporate gathering.

9. The goal is to produce salvation results.

10. Participants conform to man-made standards through guilt and pressure. Change is through self-will, not Spirit.

11. Faith is practiced at the church building during prescribed gathering times.

12. Worship is structured, predictable and orderly.

The Institutional Church:

1. Sends money to missionaries in foreign countries if it is convenient.

2. Exists for the members of the church: Join the Church.

3. Members expect pastors to bring in the lost and unchurched.

4. Has become a sub-culture of Christians living in a parallel universe.

5. Main focus is supporting church activities to attract new families.

6. Dependent upon pastors and staff to evangelize the lost.

7. Stays away from the lost; has very few dealings with those outside the church.

8. Uses tradition, denomination and family ties to attract and keep members.

9. The goal is to increase attendance.

10. Participants compartmentalize their religion and their lives – generally facades of religious adherence.

11. Faith is a routine activity that is private and personal.

12. Worship is ritualistic.

You can find the scoring tool at the end of the article.

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4 Responses to “Institutional v. Missional: 12 Marks of the Missional Church”


  1. Richard Harrison
    on Nov 3rd, 2010
    @ 9:04 am

    That article was written in May of 2006. I wonder if the article was rewritten today, Nov 2010, what the difference would be ? Quite a difference or maybe much the same ?


  2. art rogers
    on Nov 3rd, 2010
    @ 10:00 am

    I thought that I had noted the date written in my article, but I must have edited it out. Maybe I just never put it in.

    Anyway, I thought that it was still relevant. I guess that’s obvious.


  3. art rogers
    on Nov 3rd, 2010
    @ 4:20 pm

    As I reread that comment above, it came off as flippant. Sorry. Didn’t mean for it to read that way.


  4. Keith Cape Town
    on Nov 7th, 2010
    @ 12:29 am

    We see the same in South Africa. However there is a groundswell of people, actiavted by the Holy Spirit who are planting the Gospel into people’s lives and we’re seeing communities of people, who are freely expressing their love for Christ and their neighbours. It seems a new wineskin is already taking shape and missional lifestyles are more common than before. Africa is rotten with religion and ripe for the Spirit.

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