There are various definitions of what it means to live a missional life. The past several years I have given much thought to missional living, and I offer these daily questions to you as a tool. You might want to make these questions a part of your evening prayer.
What have I done to help the poor today?
What have I done to move towards holiness today?
Have I prayed for my enemies today?
Have I shared a kind word with someone today?
Have I given anything away today?
Have I been honest today?
You are the light of the world. A city built on a hill cannot be hidden. In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father in heaven.
—— Jesus of Nazareth
Lord give me the courage to seek opportunities of ministry today. Make my life one of prayer and giving, and let my presence be a blessing to all I encounter. Amen
- Live Like Jesus (trinityenglishyouth.com)
Originally published January 10, 2010
We ask ourselves that question every time there is a great tragedy in the world. The tragic event that took place in Haiti on January 11th (an earthquake that still causes suffering in that country)will cause long-lasting suffering. Our first reaction is to want to do something. When great tragedies strike we can give money, we can pray and we can even weep with those who are weeping. There are many of us want to put our hands on something that makes us part of the solution but that is not possible for the great majority of us.
Missional people are committed to applying the teachings of Christ to all situations, no matter how tragic. I watch the news each day and am saddened more by the seemingly hopeless plight of so many of the injured. I watch and gather hope from the courage of the rescue crews that have come from all over the world. They risk their lives to help others. They are truly Missional people. As Missional people we are a people of prayer.
I offer this prayer:
Lord you created the earth with all it dynamics. We sometimes question the reasons for suffering and pain. We even blame you and call you a harsh and vengeful God but when we see your power manifested in natural disasters we are reminded of your greatness. Lord allow us to learn to treasure our days as we watch the unfolding of this horror. Let us learn from the spirit of the first responders who risk their lives to save others. In all this help us to count our days and offer them to the service of the world.
I am the kind of person who likes to have things figured out ahead of time. That’s my style and I can be a little stubborn about it. I wonder if that a good thing for a Missional Christian? Let look to see how God handled people like me in the Bible. let’s pick three, Moses, Jonah and Peter.
Moses-Long before God had tapped Moses for his mission to lead His people out Egypt Moses had begun his own freedom movement. After seeing one of his fellow Jews being mistreated by an Egyptian he killed the Egyptian. The result. Moses had to live in hiding and exile for 40 years. Moses did it his way. When he submitted himself to God at the burning bush he became the leader of the nation.
Jonah-As soon as he received God’s call to preach to the people of Nineveh, Jonah ran away because he knew that “those people” were not worth his effort. After spending three days in the belly of the fish Jonah led one of the most dramatic revivals in history.
Peter- He was just a simple fisherman who just didn’t seem to know when to keep his mouth shut. In his time he had a tendency to talk BIG but on the night that Jesus was condemned he didn’t talk so big. Jesus later confronted him and he expressed sorrow for his denial. After that experience with Jesus he seemed to know when to talk big and when to be silent.
The point is simple. When we encounter God -things are different. It doesn’t matter that we have everything figured out. When we allow God to speak, and we really listen, things are just different. As Missional Christians we have to be forever aware of the still small voice of God prodding and poking us every moment of the day. He has a message for you. Please listen and things can be so different.
This a very interesting look at the church in this post modern world. WE all need to take a creful look at the mission of our church.
the long way home
For my Gospel, Culture, and Church course this past week, we had to read the opening chapter of this book on the Church as mission, rather than seeing the Church as something that does mission. We also had to read some mind-blowing pages from Hans Kung’s epic work The Church. It got me thinking a lot about what precisely the “church” is and how it is that thing. I just wanted to share some disjointed thoughts today.
Throughout the readings, the (perhaps over-used) term “Being in Becoming” kept coming to mind. (For my more philosophically-trained friends, forgive me if I’m simplifying this term too much; My main exposure to this has been cursory, in the context of the Trinitarian theology of Karl Barth and how he describes God).
In others words, the Church’s very Being is in its efforts to more faithfully “Become” what it is. It is not…
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One of the best things about riding a bicycle around town is that you get to observe things up close and personal. Bike riding puts you in the middle of the action. You can smell the smells, feel the heat, and hear the sounds you miss in your car.
In a recent ride along Bayou St. John(a natural waterway in New Orleans) I noticed a mother duck and her ducklings swimming in the bayou. I stopped as she came on shore and began to lead them to a new spot. One of the ducklings began to lag behind the group and suddenly the volume of her “quacks” went up to an ear crushing sound. Sure enough the little slacker knew that it was a signal to speed up and catch up. He did, and the rhymic quacking continued as they moved to a place to rest.
You may ask, how can this relate to the missional practice of a Christian?
Let’s think about that for a moment.
- The ducklings began as a unit. It was not the mother duck that left the duckling behind but the duckling that moved slower than the rest.
- The mother duck had the best and the brightest duckling right behind her.
- The slacker was slowing down the journey.
- The slacker caused the mother to expend more energy.
What missional points can we glean from this little story?
- We must allow for those who don’t follow the crowd.
- We must set the pace of our journey so that all can join.
- We must expend energy and time to help those who are less motivated.
Remember we are called to care for each other as we are on the journey.
You are the salt of the earth; but if salt has lost its taste, how can its saltiness be restored? It is no longer good for anything, but is thrown out and trampled under foot.
How many people do you meet on an average day ? Do you bother to even say hello ? Most of us go through our days ignoring the persons we encounter on a typical day. Christians are the salt and light of the world. It is our presence in this world that can make all the difference. If we are silent and fail to engage the world in conversation ten we have little impact. I can’t help but regret all the nice things I have left unsaid. all too often we are quick to criticize but oh so slow to compliment.
In our busy and anonymous world people are just blurs that pass us by and we think nothing of them. I wonder how different the world would be if we all just started a few conversations. Just randomly and casually. Here’s the suggestion. Take a day, just one day, and be very intentional about saying more than hello to the people you see that day. Who are those people ?
A possible list: (yours may be different)
The cashier at the coffee shop,grocery …
The garbage collector
The person who is 50 feet away from you at the office.
The kid in your class that never utters a word.
The members of the church choir.
The person who walks (jogs-they may not want to speak but who knows)by your house every day.
That person you see every time you are in that restaurant.
That just a list to get you started. There are so many more. If you have a few suggestions just post a comment. Take time to be the “salt and light” of the world.
Being a friend to someone is really very Missional, because because the whole world is crying out for friends. Becoming a friend to someone is a commitment. A friend is someone that we take time to be with, to help, and to encourage. It’s a discipline to be a friend. That may seem like a strange way of looking at friendship. Statistics tell us that the United States is one of the loneliest nations in the world. As we go about our daily walk ,being a friend is by necessity a part of being a person who is doing the mission of God here on earth. We as Missional people have a desire to reach out with love to others who need the loving touch that only a person who knows and feels the love of Jesus Christ can give.
- Write an unsolicited note, text or email to someone.
- Take someone to coffee or lunch.
- Make a phone call to someone who doesn’t receive many.
- Intentionally develop a new friend.
- Give your time to someone.
All of these small things can make a tremendous difference to someone who’s lonely. For in helping relieve loneliness in our world, we are truly people who are spreading the grace and love of Jesus Christ to the world. How many times in life have we failed to do what we could do if we just tried? I urge all of to you just try. In trying we can find the glorious blessings that God has stored up for us
Someone said to blessed Arsenius, ‘How is it that we, with all our education and our wide knowledge get no- where, while these Egyptian peasants acquire so many virtues?’ Abba Arsenius said to him, ‘We indeed get nothing from our secular education, but these Egyptian peasants acquire the virtues by hard work.’
—sayings of the Desert Fathers
This lesson from the desert takes us to the crossroad of learning and doing. Theory of life can only take us so far, but doing (work) is where we truly learn. Every follower of Christ wants to live a virtuous life, and many spend a great deal of time studying about such a life. Sadly, a life of virtue is never lived out in isolation. We must be workers in the world and flesh out our virtues as we interact with the world. For in the interaction we find the need to turn to God, and in our turning He gives us virtues that can never be attained by learning.
A pastor once told a story about a visitor to a heavy-duty grease factory. When they arrived they were ushered into a large room, and a tour host introduced them to the company history and the number of employees at work producing the best machine lubricants in the world. They toured the noisy factory with lots of machinery and wheels whirling, mixing, and packaging. This place was full of activity.
As the tour ended, one of the visitors said, “I didn’t see a shipping department.” The guide responded, “Well, we don’t have a shipping department because it takes all the grease we make to lubricate our equipment and keep the wheels turning.”
If you were asked, you would likely say that was a waste of effort. We all know that goods are manufactured to be distributed. The purpose of a factory is to produce goods to be used by people outside of the plant. The church, however, is a grease factory of its own. Year after year we turn inward and forget that the purpose of the church is the transformation of the world. We spend the bulk of our resources keeping the wheels turning. Jesus sent us into the world to make a difference, and we must turn away from ourselves to be effective.
This past Saturday I decided to get very adventurous. I got on my bicycle and rode the eight miles from my home to Downtown New
The San Francisco 49ers’ Super Bowl XXIX trophy on display at the 49ers’ Family Day at Candlestick Park. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Orleans on the Saturday afternoon before the Super Bowl. I expected to see the many media booths and other stages that had been erected before the game, the throngs of people milling about, but I saw something I didn’t expect. In front of the Prebytere there was what I would call a preaching “shout off” going on. It seems that some very conservative Christians had taken it upon themselves to convert the world, especially those that were having too much fun. At the same time there was a man who didn’t quite see things the way they did that was shouting back at the preacher with every breath.
Being the “think and let think” Methodist that I am, such a situation distresses me. I listened for a while and when the shout off had ceased I engaged the heckler. I simply wanted to tell him that though I didn’t hold the views of the street preacher who had just condemned to hell everyone from the party goers to the Archbishop of New Orleans, that I did not feel that his heckling was effective. He eagerly engaged me in conversation, grabbed my hands, and at about six inches from my face insisted that look him in the eyes. I was told microphone frequencies were changed in the 1930’s making all microphones the tools of Satan. I quickly excused myself and rode back home.
How often have you been caught thinking that things were different than they were? I wanted to support someone who seemed to want a more loving approach to the gospel, instead I was confronted by a rather delusional man. We are all called to be Missional and sometimes we may misread a situation, but we must press on to be the Missio dei of the world.