Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Curiosity killed the cat, God brought the cat from death to life. . .

I feel the need to define what it is to be “missional” from a purely one-sided and personal viewpoint. Usually when we talk about missional attitudes or missional paradigms, the discussion leans heavily on the church as a whole and where we hope every disciple ends up (or at least a large community within). But today I just want to say what is pouring out of my heart as it applies to me.

I have inside of me an ever-increasing desire to see God move. And to be perfectly honest it’s 50% selfish ambition, 50% inspired. I’ve lived a life in service to a King, I’ve seen His power manifest through great movements and through the unexpected (maybe even mundane) events of everyday life. These experiences have continually brought me back to a place where I fully admit that I have no idea what He’s up to. And still I seek out His Hand. Now, it’s not my intention to wax poetic, on the contrary, I fully intend to show the practical application of this internal compass.

While I’m under no constraint or obligation to see God “do His thing”, I’m drawn to it. I’m always curious about what He is doing in the lives of others. Not in this monumentally overshadowing (often fictional) thing we’ve affectionately term a “calling”. No, I want to know what He is doing inside of others. For some it may be ministry but in most cases it’s a simple lesson that can be easily explained by open and honest communication. This is where community comes in. If I have truly connected with someone, this process is as natural as commenting on the weather. And I get excited about this stuff. To be more precise I get fueled by this “day-to-day” acting out of what God is doing in us. When I turn the spotlight around and place it on myself in this context I can see God doing the same type of thing in me. He’s teaching me (seemingly) simple lessons by the experiences I go through. In some cases I get it right away and move on to the next, at other [full disclosure=most]times I wrestle with the validity or truth of the thing that God is trying to reveal to me.
Now what does all that have to do with missional. Well, seeing the hand of God move in my own individual life (regardless of the enormity or commonality) births a greater desire to actively give myself to the community God has placed me in, which in turn fuels my passion to promote the Gospel which, of course, compels me to seek out the lost, to heal the broken, give to the poor, and love people. To me missional is this life lived toward others, giving myself away for the promotion of the Gospel. And not the Gospel as a formula, but as a redemptive story lived out by anyone turning away from darkness and embracing the light in any capacity.

That’s how I see it today, it will likely evolve. I’m curious about what it looks like in the actual lives of others.

A Calling Falling. . .

I don’t want to be unfair to those people who feel genuinely “called” to a specific task in the Kingdom. But often when we refer to a “calling” we really mean “the thing we ought to do”. While I fully believe that God has a path laid out for each of us; we are not called to a path we are called to Christ. Put another way Christ is our goal, our milestone, and foundation of the journey (put simpler still He “is the way the truth and the life”). Those things we should be doing are simply ways of getting to him, but even in those there is failure and dependence. In those areas His grace brings the Goal to us.

I feel like the more we over-emphasize the calling the more we exempt people from the things they ought to be doing regardless of calling. This is what brings on responses like:

                “I care about missions, but I’m not called to missions.”

Really? Seriously?!? You're not called to make disciples and give yourself away? My only floored response to that backwards materialistic [reason i rant in the first place] mentality is, “When did Jesus call you to watch TV 4 hours a day, or buy your fourth vehicle? And yet you still manage to accomplish those tasks, hmmm?"

James 4:17 is a serious indictment against this attitude.  Mistaking a calling for a ministry or a position is one of the leading causes of apathy and slothfulness in our modern churchscape. We must cry out, make clear, and teach sensibly that the Gospel frees us from seeking position and status and releases us to do His will and not please men.

The Call to Christ is foremost; everything else is fluxing between what we should do and what we were each individually created to do.

The Big 3

Mission – Vision – Strategy
“The founding of a movement should be organic.” 
A valid statement, for sure, but a little muddy when it comes to the specifics. These are three general ingredients to address on the road to building community. Not 3 steps, or 3 must haves. These pieces will be confronted in the natural process of acting on the call to Christ in you, however, if we define and shape these ideas beforehand, I believe we will be in a receptive position that recognizes and acts on their approach.

Missionthe specific thing we will accomplish (example: Bring salvation to the unchurched population)
Visionwhat God gives us to accomplish mission (example: the direction and leading of the Holy Spirit)
Strategythe plan we apply to the vision to accomplish mission (example: draw ppl to community serve others and weekly small groups)
They may be consecutive in application but they are definitely not consecutive in conception. Sometimes God births a vision that draws you to a mission, sometimes you get mission and nothing else, I’m my case I responded to an opportunity to develop strategy and out of that process I found a mission to invest in and God started to grow a vision in me. If starting the movement or being a catalyst to community or change is in your heart, studying these themes may be extremely beneficial.

We should not become so tied to any of the three that we get them confused with each other or the bigger picture of what God is trying to do in us. We should re-approach them at common intervals to see if we are still “in step” with what God actually wants. I have friends who experienced deep (even tragic) loss that pulled them away from ministry. At the time failure is all anyone could see, but I can say with confidence that the plan of God isn’t predictable and many times the immediate struggle is necessary to get to the place where the right mission can be accomplished effectively.

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