According to Alan Hirsch, in The Forgotten Ways, a missional reading of the Great Commission (Matthew 28:18-20) “requires that we see that Jesus’s strategy is to get a whole lot of versions of him infiltrating every nook and cranny of society by reproducing himself in and through his people in every place throughout the world” (p. 113).
A non-dualistic understanding of discipleship does not place church leadership as the pinnacle of Christian maturity. Rather, church leaders are supposed to equip the saints for the work of service (Ephesians 4:12) so that they can be the embodiment of Christ in every aspect of culture.
The goal is not so much to “save people” by attracting them into the church since we see it as God’s mediating institution in the world. No, the goal is to send people into the culture as incarnational “little versions of Jesus” invading every institution and sphere as God’s instrument for bringing all things under the Lordship of Christ and His Kingdom.
As Abraham Kuyper famously said, “There is not a square inch in the whole domain of human existence over which Christ, who is sovereign over all, does not cry: ‘Mine!’”
When we understand that this is the mission of God in the world, we understand our role as being a movement to bring about this mission. And the mission is not simply to save people from this evil world, but to “restore and heal creation” (as Darrel Guder says in Missional Church: A Vision for the Sending of the Church in North America, p. 129).
Alan Hirsch makes the case that our ecclesiology must follow our missiology, which must follow our Christology.
The “missional-incarnational impulse” (as Hirsch calls it) will be awakened in the church when we intersect God, the world, and the church so that it is all one cohesive whole. “Church is not something done in abstract from the world. Our evangelism and social action are communal, we join with God in redeeming the world (he’s already there), and our spirituality is of the all-of-life variety” (p. 239).