Missional Shampoo – An Explanation

kinnon —  July 22, 2007 — 17 Comments

When Al Roxburgh and I were together with Jonny Baker, Jonny talked about how often he’s shocked by what people respond to on his blog. He pours his heart and soul into a post and gets little or no response. Then he tosses a post off and conversation explodes. I know what he means.

NewbiginsmissionalshampooWhen I created the Missional Shampoo graphic and wrote the post a few days ago, I thought I’d get more than a little response. (I do appreciate your brief comment, John.) I was mistaken to believe my sarcastic response to the ease with which folk appropriate the word “missional” would generate comments and push back.

One might legitimately ask, ‘Who is Kinnon to be commenting sarcastically or otherwise on how the word ‘missional’ is used? How long has he been engaged in this discussion? Didn’t he spend half of the nineties and the first four years and four months of the new millennium working with mega-churches?’ Too true.

I didn’t become seriously engaged in the missional conversation until a year ago last June – when Imbi and I attended an Allelon event in Eagle, Idaho. This, in spite of having been a close friend of Alan Roxburgh’s since the mid-eighties.

Mli-LogoIt is important to note that Imbi and I did have some understanding of missional as, in 2001, we designed the logo for the Missional Leadership Institute that Al created with Fred Romanuk, author with Al of The Missional Leader, released last year.

(I was in my “no caps – Myriad Pro Typeface” period of design when we created this logo.)

So why Missional Shampoo? My rather warped and truly Canadian, irreverent sense of humour (note the correct spelling) would partially be to blame. But mostly it was in reaction to how “missional” has become the latest buzz-word in Christendom (“Christendom” used intentionally). Do a “missional” Google search and today Google will return about 878,000 hits.

Missional experts exist in every corner of God’s earth – many claiming specific understanding and ownership of the word.

Probably the prime catalyst for Missional Shampoo was this post from Drew Goodmanson, Missional – Missio Dei, Missionary or Mission – written in early July.

At the Acts 29 conference Ed Stetzer spoke on the history of the word missional which traces it’s origins from three streams of thoughts: missio dei, missionary & mission. He presents why we may all use the same word, yet it means radically different things for emerging churches, evangelical camps and the reformed community. So when Tim Keller speaks about being missional it is not the same thing as when it used by John Franke or Alan Roxburgh. He plans to publish a paper on this soon which will be extremely helpful for the missional conversation. (The “He” here is Stetzer, not Keller.)

Apparently Stetzer is about to publish a corrective of Roxburgh and Franke. Their error – they see missional as being descriptive of the Missio Dei, or as South African Missiologist, David Bosch would say “It is not the church which ‘undertakes’ mission; it is the missio Dei which constitutes the church.” (As quoted by the iMonk @ BHT.) Missio Dei is a latin theological phrase that can be translated literally as the “sending of God.”

Goodmanson quotes what seems to be a straw man argument of Stetzer’s,

One danger of the emerging church is that they can reject the Biblical call of the church as the central place of mission (situational) and therefore see their call to be missional only from the Missio Dei perspective… <snip> …Stetzer provided one example where a missionary group helped fund the over-throw of a government as part of their missio dei understanding of being missional.

In the comments, Goodmanson responds to a question of what Roxburgh “miss(es) or overstress(es).

According to Stetzer, Roxburgh (and the GOCN) come at missional from a missio dei perspective. He asked me not to post too much more on this until his paper is out.

So, as I read Drew’s post, it would seem that according to Stetzer (in his ownership of the word “missional”), Alan and John Franke are guilty of misinterpreting “missional” in light of their focus on the Missio Dei, the sending of God – as it leads to emerging churches involving themselves in helping to fund the over-throw of a government. (Which leads me to ask the question of whether or not some governments should be over-thrown but I digress.) Yikes!

I just asked Alan whether or not Stetzer had discussed his concerns with Alan regarding Alan’s missional perspective. (They have spoken.) He hasn’t but it appears he’s about to publish a paper that will correct both Roxburgh and Franke in their misunderstanding of what “missional” is.

Would anyone like a case of Missional Shampoo?



A television editor, writer & director since 1978. A Christian since 1982. More than a little frustrated with the Church in the West since late in the last millennium.

17 responses to Missional Shampoo – An Explanation

  1. Ha Ha. Good stuff Bill. Thanks for “Missional Shampoo” part 2…

  2. Send me TWO cases! 🙂

    Make sure you link up to that Stetzer article when it comes out. I think these conversations, as crazy as they seem sometimes, help to clarify what we mean and, maybe more importantly, what we don’t mean, when we talk about missional. I don’t think our work will be helped by an endless back and forth, but it can help to tell more stories about what is and isn’t missional.

    The story of overthrowing a government is interesting. Perhaps we should have a conference now where we all learn how to overthrow governments and establish the reign of God in its place. In Hollywood we just participated in a Town Hall meeting to draw attention to the housing crisis in Los Angeles. I’d be happy to host a conference in Hollywood about how to run a town hall to draw attention to the housing crisis and get local government to do more. (Though, no doubt, I’ll need help with the title…that was a little long).

  3. Ryan,

    I was thinking about you and the Town Hall meeting when I wrote,

    Which leads me to ask the question of whether or not some governments should be over-thrown but I digress.

    I was also thinking about Bonhoeffer and his willing participation in resisting the systemic evil of the German government of his day.

  4. Bill, funny shampoo reference. I work for the same agency as Stetzer and I very much appreciate his input in our circles. He presents a fresh word/perspective from the norm, however I too was perplexed and a bit confused (not that you were confused) by the post by Goodmanson on Stetzer’s words.

  5. Brad,
    I don’t want to question where Stetzer is coming from in terms of “missional”. I’m just not sure how, if Goodmanson’s post is accurate, Stetzer has come to be in a place where he gets to decide who is using the correct interpretation of the word. Goodmanson’s post leaves Stetzer looking more than a little arrogant.

    If Stetzer wants to question Roxburgh’s and Franke’s theology, it is important to note that he has had the opportunity to do it directly.

  6. Bill,

    Where can I find a summary of Franke’s theology?

  7. Dan,

    Here’s a little background on John Franke from Theopedia. You can view of video of John talking about Missional Church @ Allelon. Here is John’s info @ Biblical Seminary. Scot McKnight on Biblical (with kudos to Franke) and another post of Scott’s here that speaks of Franke’s theology. Tyndale’s Craig Carter reviews Franke’s book, The Character of Theology.

    Friend of Allelon, Todd Hiestand points to a podcast of Franke called Made for Mission.

    Hope that helps.

  8. i have chatted with both alan and ed in the past few months. Ed is a smart cookie and hopes to make, IMHO, the whole missional thing less connected with the ecumenical/WCC movement. i can see his reasoning for trying to clean up the word and remove what might be a bad smell to some. lets see what he publishes.

  9. Excellent stuff, Bill. I didn’t comment before because I was eagerly waiting for the explanation… which I finally got to just this morning.

    I don’t think I want to pick a fight with Ed Stetzer on this, as he’s written some good stuff on missional themes and is helping to extend the idea into Baptist regions. I don’t know how that fact has changed the message or meaning of ‘missional’ (if it has) but I’m curious about whether the ‘corrective’ is hard or soft.

    I agree that missional thought or definition has variants and that some form of statement is necessary to clarify that fact, as it’s leading to some disagreements that I’ve observed or been a party to… and many misunderstandings.

    That said, I also approach via the missio dei so maybe I’m going to be corrected as well ;^) …but I’m interested to see how else you could get there without drastically redefining the word.

    Now, since the word ‘missional’ was first popularized for this context and usage by the GOCN (with Roxburgh) based on Bosch, it seems that Stetzer (with Acts 29) is not in a good position to ‘correct’ their understanding or use of the word, though if he wants to extend the definition that’d be another matter. It’s already being used variantly, so having people say what flavour of missional they mean might inform some discussions.

    Missional Shampoo — now in three bold new flavours!

  10. BroMay,

    I have no doubt that Stetzer has added to the conversation and no problem with him chasing the “missional rabbit” where ‘er it leads him. I am concerned when it appears (via Goodmanson) that he wants to correct others who’ve been engaged in the missional conversation far longer than he. Debate, discuss, disagree…no problem. Correct (which is what I read into Drew’s post, in fairness) would be a bit much.

    Ed has apparently upbraided Drew for his post that prompted my Missional Shampoo posts – I comment here. I’ve offered to send Drew a case of the hair product.

  11. ;^)

    I hear ye. I just lost a really good followup post on this to a browser crash… am attempting to re-compose since it had relevant thought despite the correction. I actually expect Ed will be more gracious than “corrective” in his approach to the broad discussion.

  12. Read the comments on Missional Shampoo – Rinse & Repeat. Drew says,

    His paper will surely still cause some controversy, I just don’t want to take his quotes outside of the context of what he said. Stetzer has spoken with a number of people to present the three diff’t views of misisonal. He said it should be out in a couple weeks.

    Gee, there’s only three different views of missional?! Who knew? <8-}>

  13. Wow. This is fascinating. I really look forward to the paper. Is Stetzer really making this argument?

    “So, as I read Drew’s post, it would seem that according to Stetzer (in his ownership of the word “missional”), Alan and John Franke are guilty of misinterpreting “missional” in light of their focus on the Missio Dei, the sending of God – as it leads to emerging churches involving themselves in helping to fund the over-throw of a government.”

    Yikes. That should be fascinating.

    Oh, but wait, I forgot. I am writing that paper. Grin.

    That does not sound like anything I am writing. And, my whole point is that no one owns the word– and people use it in different ways (compare the recent Leadership Journal to Guder, for example). Hopefully we can all learn from each other in the conversation. We are on the same team. It would be pretty silly to accuse anyone of misinterpreting a term that is used by different people in different ways.

    However, when Brother Maynard asked me to help clarity the use of the term (objecting to the definition at wikipedia), I started some historical research. When Biblical Seminary asked me to lead a day long faculty retreat on the subject, we had a great time talking about some of the implications and how some of us use it differently (with much commonality as well).

    So, please don’t create a straw man concerning what I am saying (while calling what I do a straw man). Grin.

    The paper will be out soon. I am thinking of doing it in parts so I might release it little by little so I can hear and learn from others on the way. But, it is not a corrective… it is a history, analysis, and then some suggestions of how we can all live out and in God’s mission, focused on the missio dei, and living as God’s missionary people— and learn from each other in the process.

    Have a great day.

    God bless,


  14. Ed,
    I’ve responded to you off-line.

  15. Ed, since I mentioned this yesterday as well, I’ve also responded privately… but thanks for posting this clarification here.

  16. Part of exploring what missional means is simply observing it happening. I make a lot of my thoughts and others thoughts on what it means and I think it’s good to think theoritically. But I was over at a friends house that lives in inner city of Winnipeg and they have struck up a relationship with some young aboriginal kids who have been terrorizing the neighbourhood. They have been offering the kids apples and this has evolved into their yard as becoming a “third space” to use some of the missional language. I witnessed the relationship occur as a young girl dropped by and picked up a hose and started watering their garden. She wanted to pick the unripe tomatoes but my friend explained to her about how it works and that when the tomatoes were ready she would pick them. So as much as I love talking about mission and the kingdom of God it is really wonderful to witness it in life. It reminds me to be open to it coming to me rather than me creating it.
    One of the kids had wrecked my friends water spout and my friend had talked to the kid and together they repaired the spout. Later my friend overheard the kid telling another kid about how he had repaired the spout. There are all these little encounters happening everyday and I’m starting to understand what it means to be open – empty handed as Allan R. talked about in his talk given in Winnipeg not too long ago.

  17. Bill,

    How do I take you up on the offer and get my shampoo?


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