What does it mean to live missionally? It’s a word we hear a lot, but many of us may struggle to fully grasp. Here’s my thoughts:
First, it is important to understand that as Christians we serve a missional God. A God on a mission to redeem his creation.
“The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us.” John 1:14
Secondly, the Bible also affirms that as followers of Christ we are part of this mission agenda. The mission, as declared by God, has a church.
“Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, so I am sending you.” John 20:21
So how do we as sent people (the church), sent by a missional God, practically live this out? Theory becoming application…. daily.
Living missionally begins by seeing the place where you live and the activities that you participate in each day as your mission field. The simple things that put you in contact with everyday people. The neighbor next door, your mailman, the women in the cubical next to you, the 7-Eleven cashier, or the girl that pours your coffee at Starbucks. It’s these people that you interact with daily that you should be deliberate about getting to know and building a relationship with. Who are they? Take the time to notice them. Be intentional.
As Jesus demonstrated throughout his life, people matter. And because people matter, living as missional people happens through building relationships. First with those you crisscross daily, next perhaps with those on the fringes. Maybe with those that are not quite as natural for you to connect with. Those that are often unseen or unappreciated. You may not see them at first, but they are there. The shut-in down the road or the kid always playing at the park alone. The single mom raising her children alone or the refugee family in the low-income apartment behind the shopping center. They are the vulnerable, the at-risk. Get to know them. Ask them questions. Ask about their children, their families, what music they listen to, or what sports they like to play. The goal is to love them, just as Jesus would.
As Christians we need to go to them, get to know what they are like and what they are interested in; love them just the way they are. We aren’t there to convict them or tell them how to live, but rather to encourage, accept, love and value them as people. People with magnificent gifts, desires, personalities, experiences and each with a story. Take the time to listen. As your relationship grows and you hear their story, you may be given the opportunity to share your story. When you do, be prepared to share what Jesus means to you. As they see you love them as a person, first, they may be willing to listen with open ears.
Living missionally takes time, and a concerted effort towards intentionality and commitment is needed. Just as Christ has never stopped pursuing us, may we be aware of the needs in our midst and never stop pursuing Christ by loving our neighbors.Photo by Vichaya Kiatying-Angsulee