Great article on this. Click on link above for entire article. Check out this excerpt.
Alan Hirsch is an experienced church planter and the founding director of Forge Mission Training Network. His most recent book, The Forgotten Ways, represents an contemporary interpretation of the missional explosion of the early church and the recent house-church movement in China.
What does the term missional mean to you?
Well, that's one of those very difficult terms because it's so widely used. But for me, it primarily refers to a church that organizes itself around the mission of God, or the misseo dei, which refers to God's involvement in the world—his redeeming it to himself. In The Forgotten Ways, I say that it's not so much that the church has a mission, but that the mission has a church. So when I think of the term "missional church," it's in that order—that a church has somehow bonded itself or identified itself as a primary agent of the mission of God in the world.
Which came first: the mission or the church? I think I've normally thought "The church, silly." And then Jesus gave us the Great Commission and we go and do that now. But actually, when we study scripture we see that the missio dei (mission of God) precedes the church big-time. This is big for me because it reminds me of where I really am in perspective to God's mission. First God. Then sin. Then God's mission. Then the church to carry out the mission. Humbling.