raison d etre – missional is the new buzz word

Noun 1. raison d etre – reason for being
  2. raison d etre – the purpose that justifies a thing’s existence; – what something is used for; example:”the function of an auger is to bore holes”; “the function of Tim Horton’s is to wake you up.


I recently read this quote, no doubt asked by some rough and tumble Canadian hockey player: “ballet is beautiful but what use is it?”  Or maybe they were speaking about figure skating! Or opera. Or war. Or the third world with its poverty, pain and power abuse.

As people choose how they spend their money and their time, many are asking about churches, churches that once thrived at the centre of community life, but now are almost invisible:    

       “Does it have a purpose?

       “Does it serve a purpose?

       “Even if it does, how will help my family?” 

The Christian Church is not the ‘default loyalty’ setting on people’s Sunday morning schedules. Once it was. Now it is not. Don’t you wonder what people think as they drive around court house square and view three church buildings in the space of a few seconds? I’m curious.

 Why? – because it is my job to get into their world, try and understand it, become aware of the needs, and sensitively bring the kind compassion and life-giving grace of Jesus into that situation.

There are many “sending” verses in Scripture. John 20:21 is just one – “As the Father has sent me, so I send you.

There is a new term in Christian circles that has quickly become a popular and defining slogan for churches to embrace. Its roots, however, are quite ancient.

Missional” is simply the noun “missionary” adapted into an adjective. For example, an “adversary” is your enemy. Someone who is “adversarial” is acting like your enemy. A “missional church” is a church that acts like a missionary.

A missionary resides in a community, understands the culture, and proclaims the Christian Gospel in a way that people in that culture can understand. The Christian Church and its people have a role – no, responsibility – to the community. The commission of Jesus is for us.

We have a sender (Jesus), a message (the Gospel – which is word and deed), and a people to whom we are sent (real people in our community). It is worth the effort to go, because the love of Jesus expressed in your kind and caring actions, and your messages of hope, powerfully touch lives.

It has been my greatest pleasure over the years to assist many of you in discovering and embracing your raison d’etre –in churches, communities and in Christian camping. Perhaps that has been my mission?


About dougjohns

Doug Johns retired from ministry in Canada to devote more time to international work. Right now he pastors part time at the International Baptist Church in Bielefeld, Germany. He is a graduate of York Univ. (B.A.) and Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary (M.Div.). Doug is married to Yvonne and they have four grown children plus eight grandchildren. Doug has had significant experience as a Presbyterian Minister in Ontario, Saskatchewan, British Columbia and New Brunswick. He has served as Associate Pastor at West Congregational in Haverhill, Massachusetts; Doug is committed to international ministry in Romania; and he has taken leadership in Christian Camping as Executive Director of Camp Fireside, NH; Glen Mhor Presbyterian Camp, Ontario; Timberline Ranch, BC. .... avid baseball fan of the Toronto Blue Jays ... Managed American Legion Baseball Team out of Creston BC in North Idaho League. Doug is a serious runner with many international half-marathons completed over the last 6 years.
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