Part 1: What Does It Mean To Be Missional?
*Terms such as “Missional,” “Missional Living,” and “Missional Communities” are buzz words that are understood and often used by vocational ministers. However, I would argue that these terms are new to the average church member and need to be clearly explained. As our church seeks to equip our members to live on mission for Christ through missional communities in South Florida, it is essential that we teach them what these terms mean and how they are lived out on a daily basis. This five-part series will attempt to define “missional living” for Christ followers.
A little over a year ago, while serving as Student Pastor, I asked my students the question, “Why does the church exist?” The answers were varied and eye-opening. It became abundantly clear that my students could not accurately and Biblically articulate why the church exists. I do not believe that this is simply the case for students; rather I am convinced that it is true of most people attending our churches today. If we expect our church members to live on mission, we must first define what that means and then teach them how to do it.
The answer to the question “Why does the church exist” is found in Matthew 28:19-20 where Jesus says to His disciples: “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” Simply put, the church exists to make disciples of all people. The mission of the church can be boiled down to these five simple words and must be repeatedly taught to our people. This is especially true of well-established churches that for years have focused primarily on Sunday services, weekly programming, and consumerism. It is a difficult, yet essential, mind shift for members of these churches.
If the purpose of the church is to make disciples of all people, then it also must certainly be the mission of every Christ follower. Unfortunately, this simple truth is not currently understood or implemented by most church members. For example, a mother was once furious with me because she said that I did not tell her daughter’s boyfriend about Jesus. I responded to her by asking, “Are you a Christian?” She said, “Of course.” To which I replied, “Then you have just as much a responsibility to share Jesus with your daughter’s boyfriend as I do.” She responded, “But you are a pastor.” This prevalent mindset must be changed if churches are going to exist for the purpose of making disciples in their communities. It cannot simply be left up to the “professionals.”
We need to explain clearly to our people what it tangibly looks like for every Christian to live as a missionary or “missionally” every day. I believe that the best way to do this is by training them to live missionally in three major areas: where they live, work, and play. To be a missionary where one lives, works and plays means to see your neighbors, co-workers, work-out partners, and children’s teachers and coaches as people whom God has strategically placed in your life so that they may become disciples of Jesus. We must help our people understand that they do not have to quit their jobs, sell their homes, and move their families thousands of miles away to another country in order to be missionaries.
God has intentionally placed all Christians in their neighborhoods and jobs for the strategic purpose of being outposts for the Kingdom of Jesus in those places. This is much easier said than done, especially as we all grow increasingly busier and struggle to execute a full schedule. However, the solution is using our daily activities as our mission field.
Take a moment right now to make three headings on a piece of paper: Live, Work and Play. Under each heading, write the names of people you see every day or every week in those three places. These are the people God has sent you to make disciples. You are the only missionary these people may ever meet. This is what it means to live missionally.