Three Ingredients for Missional Living
You’ve heard that Christians are called to live “missionally.” Your pastor says it. Your favorite authors say it. It’s mentioned on the podcast you sometimes listen too. It’s been a Christian buzz word for years.
Missionaries are sent overseas to be missional. Pastors are hired to be missional right here at home. But how do you, a lay person, actually make the rubber hit the road and live out a missional life?
If you are uncertain as to how to be missional in your neighborhood, in your workplace, amongst old friends or new, here are some ideas to guide you. My husband and I were recently surrounded by church planters and their wives—men and women who are years ahead of us and who offered us much wisdom. These wise mentors say there are three ingredients in any missional relationship:
Missional relationships are not projects. We have all experienced what it’s like to be someone’s project—a friend who wants to enroll you into a MLM scheme or a Mormon neighbor who aggressively invites you over for Bible study. We must first see our neighbors, coworkers, and lost loved ones as true friends and people we enjoy being with. If you sense that God is calling you to live missionally amongst someone you don’t particularly enjoy, pray and ask him to change your heart and give you an abundance of love and interest in them.
When we actually care about others, we want to know more about them. We wonder about their families, their work, their interests, their history, their own spiritual beliefs. As we pursue missional relationships, we must not rush in to conversations with all the answers, but rather listen to our friends and hear what life is like in their shoes. Our genuine curiosity will be felt and they will know we value their perspective and experiences.
As we hear our friends' stories, we must process them through a biblical lens. We should not just listen to their words, but sift them through the words of God. As we get to know them better we will be more and more aware of how their worldview impacts their own relationships and decisions and lifestyle. Knowing that God is their creator and that he has a purpose for their lives, we can pray for them, according to scripture. But we must not stop there.
At some point in the friendship, we are called to share with them what the Bible actually says. When we have gained their respect, when they have shared from their hearts, when we have invested genuine care and time, it’s our calling as Christ followers to actually tell them about him. This does not need to be a full-on gospel presentation on the front lawn or at the water cooler, but it can be. But we must also look for opportunities to point them to the truth when they’re chatting with us about struggles with their kids, difficulties in their marriage, job loss, whatever. We know that the Word of God is living and active and able to speak to every human need. Let’s not hoard it.
We Are Sent Ones
This video is a quick and excellent reminder of what it means to be a Christian: we are sent ones. As the Father sent Jesus into the world to proclaim his name, so Jesus has sent us into the world (John 17:18). We are called to share the truth that we know, not hoard it. In every relationship, we are sent. That’s missional living. You and I are not free to coast through relationships and opportunities where Christ is not known—he has sent us.
And that’s what it means to be missional. Simple, really. But faith requiring, for sure.
If you feel called to a missional relationship and you’re nervous about it, share that need with a friend who can hold you accountable and ask you how it’s going. As you are sent, cover your relationship in prayer and remember that God “is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen” (Ephesians 3:20-21).