Posted by: Philip Rushton | September 29, 2014

Embracing The Missional Life

There is a huge shift taking place these days regarding what it looks like to be the church. The so called “missional-church” movement is trying to recover the idea that the church is more than just a building or an institution that we go to in order to receive religious goods. By contrast, a missional church is a community of people who gather together to be equipped and supported so that they can be sent out into communities and workplaces to be a light to the world.

This is a great video that helps capture the vision of what it means to be a missionally-minded church.

As this video explains, mission is not limited to getting people to come to us. The church is certainly meant to gather together and form a supportive community. In Acts 2:42 we discover that the early church met daily to devote themselves to prayer, study, and fellowship. However, the church is also meant to be a community of sent people, who live out their faith in their day to day lives. This is particularly important in a cultural context where people are skeptical of institutional religion and may not darken the doors of a church.

In John 20, Jesus encounters a group of disciples who are locked in a room because they are fearful of stepping out into society. He speaks a message of peace, breathes his spirit upon them, and says, “just as the father has sent me so I am sending you.” We are sent “just as” the father sent Jesus. Jesus is our model. He shows us a way of life that is externally focused. While he certainly spends time in prayer and in community with his disciples, he is also out in the world. We regularly see him developing relationships with ‘outsiders’ and meeting people on their own turf. He models an important balance of spirituality and mission.

I think most of us are aware of this reality. We know we are called to reach out to our community, work for the common good, and share our faith, but the words “outreach” or “evangelism” often have negative connotations. They evoke images of of awkward conversations, or religious people knocking on your door.

We are meant to be sent

We are meant to be sent

On Wednesday evenings this fall, I am going to lead a discipleship group that will explore what it looks like for us to embrace our missional calling. In this group we will attend to numerous stories in the gospels that illustrate what it looks like to be God’s sent people. We will also be drawing on a book titled, Sentness: Six Postures of Missional Christians. Here Kim Hammond and Darren Cronshaw explain that being missional is not about learning how to do a religious sales pitch to your neighbor. It is about learning to live out the gospel in organic and authentic ways in our community.
As Alan Hirsch says, “the missional-incarnational church will make Christian teaching attractive by living it under the very noses of those who have not yet embraced it.”

Hammond and Cronshaw illustrate how we can embrace our “sentness” by working toward shalom in or world, by seeing our workplace and neighborhood as a context for submerged ministry, by creating safe places where others can explore their questions about faith, by learning how to humbly share our faith in the context of authentic relationships, and by structuring our shared life together in a way the fosters missional living.

If you are interested in exploring what it means to live out the mission of God in everyday life, I’d love to have you join us on Wednesdays for this important conversation. The class begins on Oct 1 at 6:45 in the fireside room following simple supper in the fellowship hall.

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