January 17, 2013

Living Missionally [Part 2]

If you haven't called your mother lately, get on it. My Mom just got back from several weeks of visiting my brother and his family across the Pond, so we were catching up on the phone last week. On occasion, our conversations can be a bit "random". Out of the blue she hits me with, "So...what's all this missional community about? I've heard you talking about it - I've read it several places. How is it different from small groups?" And then she added this to the inquiry: "I know at our church they're always telling us they want us to 'Do life together'." Her last statement gave me the perfect opportunity to attempt to answer her question. Here's my response:

You can take a group of Christians - 6, 8, 10, 12 - men, women, couples - however you want to mix it up - and have them begin meeting together. They can come together weekly, study the Bible, pray with and for each other, be there when someone's struggling or hurting, provide meals when someone gets sick or loses a family member, and truly love each other. They can DO LIFE TOGETHER....and somehow, in the midst of all that, NEVER reach beyond that circle of people to share the Gospel with anyone. Because of this, we don't really want or encourage anyone to DO LIFE TOGETHER anymore; we want to lead people to LIVE ON MISSION TOGETHER. There's a huge difference.

As we began laying this issue on the table with our church family over the last several months, I believe we've had some confusion about missional community, living on mission, and how it all comes together. We will be working diligently over the next weeks and months to makes things as clear as possible. Allow me to begin that now by pinpointing a few things:

  • "Living on mission together" does NOT necessarily mean a group of people finding a common service project or "mission project" where they corporately focus passion and attention. Don't get me wrong; it may result in just that. A missional community may find that they all have a common interest in serving the poor, taking care of widows, working with Habitat for Humanity - the list could go on forever. But this is not the MISSION of Missional Community.
  • I was asked this question the other night: "If my husband has several people that he's investing in, building relationships with, and I have a different group of people that the Lord is giving me opportunity to invest in for the Kingdom, are we supposed to somehow bring ALL those people together for Missional Community?" Great question. And the answer is a resounding NO! Not that it would be a bad thing, but if you have a missional community made up of 8, 10, 12 people (couples, families, a widow, etc...) and you're able to reach 1-2 of those people who different members of your community are investing in, praise God! That said, you are probably not going to pull into your Missional Community ALL of the people you are investing in as YOU are living on mission. 
Here's the thing: If you're in a Missional Community of 10 people who are all living on mission in their daily lives (at work, at home, at the gym, on their kids ball team, serving on the HOA, etc...) and you, as a group, are living on mission TOGETHER, you are going to reach people. But not ALL people.

And the MISSION that brings us together, while it may (and most likely will) result in your community serving others in some way together, is much bigger than that. The MISSION is the Gospel! The MISSION is that you are a community bonded together by the fact that you have been saved, redeemed, and SENT by Jesus Christ into a world - a neighborhood, a workplace - filled with people who are not. Not saved. Not redeemed. Hopeless. Desperate to know the truth that the God that created them also loves them and longs to restore, renew, and redeem them. Let me put it in the plainest of terms: We are surrounded by people who are DEAD in their sin and we know the only hope they have for being made ALIVE: Jesus Christ. THAT is the MISSION!

"Doing life together" falls incredibly short of a Kingdom-sized view of the life that Jesus has planned for us as His people. It's like trying to achieve Acts 2 while removing the salvation of Christ and the power of the Spirit. What's the point?

"Living on mission together" is what happens when the people of God, pursuing the Son of God, filled by the Spirit of God, GO! When this happens, look out world!

Are you ready?
What's keeping you from living on mission?

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