Around the world one of the most neglected areas of missiological research has been ecclesiology. Rather than finding new avenues for creatively contextualizing the congregation so that it might represent the gospel, we have exported church polities, church forms, church structures, and church traditions, superimposing them on all the cultures we have encountered. Although we have become conscious of the relationship of gospel and culture, we have yet to understand how drastically we must rethink that relationship.
To develop a congregational missiology for the Church is no longer optional. [Congregations] will either limp along struggling to maintain what they have, or they will rise to new life because they catch a vision of their unique purpose and mission within their individual context. This vision involves more than developing a philosophy of ministry—it impels action deeper than a call for better goal-setting and administration. Local congregations the world over will gain new life and vitality only as they understand the missiological purpose for which they alone exist, the unique culture, people, and needs of their context, and the missionary action through which they alone will discover their own nature as God’s people in God’s world.
~ Charles Van Engen; God’s Missionary People: Rethinking the Purpose of the Local Church