‘Missional’ is a huge buzz word in certain Christian circles. Mark Driscoll quipped at one conference that, “if you googled the word missional to find out what it actually meant, you’d probably blow up your computer.” He wasn’t that wrong. In fact, I think its fair to say that we have let the debate about the word and its connotations overtake the real discussion that needs to take place.
As such, it might be worth while to look at another word which should go hand in hand, side by side with the m-word. Intentional.
Being ‘missional’ is all about living life like a missionary where ever you are. Missional living is about living like a missionary without having to raise support and changing continent. Missional people realize that there’s a mission field, ripe for harvest, right on their door step. The problem comes when claims of being missional are are in fact a cover for compromise and laziness on the Christians part. This is why, in conjunction with living like a missionary, we need to strive to be intentional.
Intentionality means that everything we do is done with a purpose. It means we don’t simply live our lives in the hope that an opportunity to share the Gospel arises, but view our entire lives as an opportunity to share Christ with those who don’t know Him.
Surely the concept of living on mission is a welcome wake up for the Church in the post-christian West. In our religious bubble, missions and witnessing are something that we do, not a “way that we live”. If we as a denomination continue to believe that we can engage the culture only at the times and places of our choosing, I am convinced that we will only build a subculture, not build the church as the Great Commission calls us to do.
In fact, a recent Christianity today article indicates that at least 13,447,000 people in North America do not personally know any Christians. That number is simultaneously sad, shocking, and shameful.
This is why we need to share the Gospel. But, just as surely as it needs to be done, it needs to be done in conjunction with a certain deliberateness. Be intentional.
As we look at 5 tips for living on mission we’ll see that on their own they cannot be considered evangelism or Christian witness, but used intentionally they could present us with new opportunities to speak the truth of Christ to others. That is, using these tools for the express aim of building relationships in which the Cross of Christ can be proclaimed.
No. 1 – Eat
Believe it or not we can be intentional in the way we eat. There aren’t many things which break barriers down, start friendships and generally get us feeling like we belong together like eating food. The truth is we all eat. Most of us 3 times a day, some of us a few times more. Why not eat for Jesus.
Think about it. In terms of “winning someone for Christ” the likelihood is we’d prefer to take them through ‘2 Ways to Live’ than to share a bite in order to get to know someone and figure out exactly how best to apply the Gospel to their lives.
People will say yes to food. It’s not an end in itself, but it might just be a good place to start in getting them to say yes to Jesus.
No. 2 – Walk
All too often we spend our lives like battery farm chickens, cooped up in our homes, offices and cars. Traveling and the time we spend doing it could be a really good opportunity to meet people in your locality and begin to build relationships with them.
Think about it. Do you recognize those people who you drive past day in and day out? Often I feel like I know those people who I regularly see from the comfort of my car. The problem is we could never smile, talk to or share the Gospel with them because we’re too cooped up! For me, walking is the only way I meet my neighbours- here in the country. In a more urban or suburban setting, such as my former home, walking was a great way to build bridges, even if there was a language barrier. I have to acknowledge my wife as the personification of that, the only woman I know who can build a relationship without a shared common language while walking with her child to the park.
The point is though, that these relatively short journeys should be intentionally used to craft relationships and opportunities to share the Gospel.
Get out of the coop. Get on the pavement. Get your face known so that you can get Jesus known!
No. 3 – Be Regular
The great thing about caring about ‘doing local’ is that you get to be a regular. Think about it. Being regular is a great way of building relationships. Go to the same place for your coffee, be the person in the lineup that they like to see, not the customer that they dread to serve. Relationships are a great place to start telling people the Gospel. I think someone famous once said, “When preaching the Gospel always use words” J.
Words are vital. Words are more effective when someone is listening.
No. 4 – Go Clubbing
Yes, i just said that. As Christians we tend to spend all of our time in one of three places. The home, the office (or other place of work) and church meetings. If we are to take the Gospel to people (i.e. live intentionally) we need to get out more.
A great way of meeting people, who you’ll most likely have a natural affinity with, is to join a group or club or team.
Think about it. You’re likely to go regularly because it’s something you enjoy doing. You’re likely to make friends because you’ll enjoy the same thing as those doing it with you. You’ll meet people you can pray for and share Jesus with. It’s that simple.
Bottom line (you should be noticing a trend here) is that you can’t tell them unless you know them. So go know them. Intentionally.
Then, you can introduce them to your other family at church…and best of all, your church family can lift you up in prayer, support you in your one on one discipleship and hold you accountable to ensure that you keep the things of God as first things. That’s the one element of intentionality that can be dangerous- when we try to live life outside of the support network of our local congregation.
No. 5 – Take Part
Often, as Christians and churches we can become obsessive about creating community, putting community events on and even naming ourselves ‘community church’.
Think about it. How much time do we spend trying to create community events versus time spent participating in the events the community has already produced? A lot of what we do as ‘Christians’ is trying to recreate (poorly) what is already out there. “Ah,” the good churchman claims, “but we do it..with Jesus!” Indeed, but instead of trying to bring these community events to Jesus, why not let’s take Jesus to these community events?
Busyness is not a real excuse. But if we don’t get out of the house and into the community we’ll never get the chance to make those awesome Gospel links we’ve been thinking of as we interact with culture.
This list is by no means complete. This list is not even applicable to everyone. But the principles are for the entire Church. Getting out of our comfort zones will necessarily require some discomfort. But if our desire really is to see our friends, family and neighbours worshiping side by side with us in glory then we’ll put up with it in order to gush about our wonderful Lord and Saviour. Maybe these 5 tips are exactly what you needed to read and you’ll implement them straight away. Maybe they’ll prompt some thought about what it means for you to live on mission. Either way, live intentionally for God’s kingdom.
What do you think? Let’s hear your thoughts in the comments field below