Let me admit it on the very front end. I think I am making up a word. “Meta” is a prefix in our language that is used in a number of ways.One of the most powerful usages is to mean more comprehensive, or transcending, as with “metaphysicis.” Metaphysics is a division of philosophy that is concerned with the fundamental nature of reality and being and that includes ontology, cosmology, and often epistemology (according to Webster).
It is very often used with the name of a discipine to designate a new but related discipline designed to deal critically with the original discipline. For example, “metalinguistics” is a branch of linguistics that deals with the relation between language an dother cultural factors in a society.
Therefore, at one level, “metamissions” is the mission of missions. In 1959, Stephen Neill wrote in “A History of Christian Missions”, these very significant words: “If everything is mission, then nothing is mission.” We have “dumbed down” the concept of mission, using it to describe any and everything. In fact, in many churches, if true mission even exists, it exists only as one of many programs or activities of the church.
Emil Brunner said, “The church exists by mission, just as fire exists by burning.” The radical nature of that comment reminds us that if a congregation, or crowd, or group, is not engaged in the “mission of missions”, then it is not a church. So what is the “mission” of Missions? It must be defined by the one who commissioned the church, Jesus Christ. And He said it several ways. In John 20:21 He said, “As the Father has sent me, so I am sending you.” He said in what is likely our most familiar take on the Great Commission, “Go and make disciples of every people group” (Matt. 28:18-20).
So how did Jesus come? Matthew tells us He came preaching the Gospel of the Kingdom of God (Matt. 4:23). In Luke 10, when Jesus sent out the 70 He sent them preaching, “The kingdom of God has come near.” It just seems to me that Mission must be built around God’s heart for the world. So mission must engage the lostness of humanity. It must make disciples.
To the degree that “meta” speaks of that which is transcendent, the metamissional church is the Body of Christ which is organic. It is living, empowered by the Spirit of God. Jesus told the band of 120 gathered with Him the day of ascension, do not take one step forward to engage in the mission I have given you until you are clothed with my power by the indwelling Presence and filling of the Holy Spirit.
Any group, no matter what they may call themselves, that does not engage in Spirit-led obedience to the Great Commission of the head of the Church, Jesus, forfeits the right to be called a church. It may be a society to study the Bible. It may be a society to engage in humanitarian projects. It may be a fraternal group to promote the well being of its membership. But it is not in a true Biblical sense, a Church.