It is common to put a distinction or hierarchy on people in the church. And at the very top we place pastors and missionaries. But the reality is that we are all called to be missional in our daily lives. Bearing witness to the reality of God’s kingdom and the reality of God’s king-ship in our lives is the basic call of every Christian. Too often we get into this zone of thinking that only the special few are called to do this. A couple months ago, I was able to lead a workshop at Multnomah University’s Global Ministries Conference in Portland, OR. We talked about three steps to becoming missional.
The workshop was InFaith’s first Reach Local Idea Lab. There were three main components to the workshop.
1. Consider God’s story.
Consider the grand story of God’s salvation. This story has been described (here and elsewhere) as an unfolding drama with four major plot developments: creation, fall, redemption, and restoration. This drama is found in the Bible. It is also found in the lives of countless Christians who have found healing and transformation through Christ. We are in the part of God’s story where the church, empowered by the Spirit, has been sent out into the world to bear witness to God’s salvation through Jesus Christ.
2. Consider your story.
Ben Bobeda, who works with us in Oregon, began the idea lab with a simple statement: “Often our experiences give us our passion.” This powerfully set the stage for the idea lab and is the next step in becoming missional. Our experiences do give us our passion. Often our good experiences give us an interest and skill in some particular thing. I grew up on a farm. I grew up watching my dad fix anything and everything under the sun. Today I have a passion for fixing things, or at least trying to fix things. I had a real conversation with a housemate that went something like this: “Don’t throw away that clearly-broken, cheaply-made, plastic fan! With just a little bailing wire and (a lot of) duck tape, we can have that fixed up as good as new!” I’m also passionate about cultural differences. I grew up in an agrarian context in Kansas. I lived and worked in China for a time and now live in the Philadelphia metro in the Northeast. I love to see and experience cultural differences. It fascinates me. It is sometimes awkward and hilarious. It is at other times scary and, if I’m honest, disturbing. But it has given me a passion for experiencing, understanding and translating differences.
Our bad experiences can also give us our passion. Often these experiences give us a desire to work against evil and stand for what is good. Victims of abuse or violence sometimes dedicate their lives to preventing abuse and violence. Failures in life can help us know what we are good at (or not good at) and teach us lessons on how to improve. These focus and shape our passions.
Becoming missional requires us to understand who we are and from where we come.
3. Consider your context.
It is easy to take the first two steps and forget about this important third step. Thinking about what we are passionate about and connecting it to God’s story can be a powerful exercise and very enlightening. But it can also blow up into an overwhelming mess. We suddenly discover that God’s story is so big and our story is so layered that there are countless directions we could go and passion we could press into. The third step, then, is to root the first two in a specific context. The fact that Jesus came to earth (i.e. the incarnation) shows that God’s mission does not happen in a vacuum. It happens in a concrete, messy reality.
Becoming missional, therefore, requires that you look around you. Where do you see God already at work? Where do you see voids of life where suffering and sorrow reign?
When you put these three things together, where do you find yourself? What are ways that you can begin to step out and be a part of the story of salvation in a real place?
My own reach local ministry is to bring diverse people in the church together to engage in mission. That’s why I’m here at InFaith. That is how I bring together God’s story, my story and my context.
So what about you? What are your plans to become missional? If you are feeling particularly inspired, get in touch and we can talk about how you might be more missional through joining InFaith! firstname.lastname@example.org