As the Father has sent me, so I am sending you—John 20:21
The glorious vision of God’s love for the nations in Psalm 87 has provoked me to think seriously about the missionary call of every Christian in the world this week.
As you know, it is commonplace for churches to think of missions as one aspect of their ministry and missionaries as those particularly (vocationally) called to sharing the gospel with the lost. This form of thinking tends to relegate mission to a few activities like mercy ministry, evangelism, or the so-called “mission trips.”
In recent days, theologians and missiologists have sought to recover the true missionary calling of every Christian in the world, urging the church to adopt the thinking, behavior, posture, and practices of missionaries in every sphere of life. They use the term “missional” to describe this missionary stance in the world. In short, to be missional means you have adopted a missionary lifestyle in your everyday living. A Christian committed to missional living conceives of himself as on mission for Christ at all times, identifies himself as a missionary for Christ in the world, and seeks to bring every aspect of life into submission to this missionary calling.
This leads me to ask a question, “How missional are you?” Actually, that’s a question that Trevin Wax asked in a recent blog post at The Gospel Coalition. Wax adapted 10 questions from Jason Dukes book, Living Sent: You Are A Letter, to help us discern whether we’re living with a missional mindset.
- When you speak of church, what prepositions do you use? Do you focus on church as a place or event more than a people who are sent?
- When you think of missions, do you think of a mission trip to a distant city and a service project in your own community or do you think about daily life among your family, neighbors, and coworkers? The answer should be both. Living sent means you are a missionary in your everyday encounters.
- What is your common declaration about lost people around you? “Can you believe the way those people act?” OR “When can you come over for dinner?” Hospitality is a key to living sent.
- Is my tendency to disengage from culture and retreat into safer, more Christian environments? Or is it to engage culture even amidst discomfort and danger? We must be among lost people in order to be an effective witness.
- When you hear “make disciples,” do you think of a classroom or your relationships? We should be equipped to disciple people in the daily routine of life, not just the classroom.
- Do you spend a lot of time wondering whether you should quit your job to surrender to ministry? Or do you simply live to minister to anyone and everyone where you are currently? Pastoral ministry is vitally important, but too many Christians are unaware that they too are involved in ministry to the people around them.
- When you think of a friend who needs help, do you think, “I need to get him to see the pastor” OR “I wonder what I can do to help”? Pastors are to equip God’s people to do the work of the ministry, not be the only ones who minister and witness to the lost.
- When you think of heaven, do you think “kingdom come” or “kingdom is here”? As people who believe the kingdom is both now and not yet, we ought to live as people who are the “presence of the future.”
- Do you think godliness is measured with a mirror or within community? Introspection (the mirror) is not the only way we become holy before the world. Jesus said people would see our fruit through our love for and life with other believers. “An intimate, shared life with God is most clearly demonstrated in intimate, shared life with one another.”
- Do you have a lost friend who would actually introduce you as his or her friend? If we are to live sent the way the sent One intended, then we must have genuine friendship with the lost too.
These are thought provoking and convicting questions! Take time to discuss them with your family and Home Fellowship Group. Consider together how you might redeem the daily events and activities of your life for missional purposes, so that we stay on mission with Christ in the world (Matthew 28:16-20). Keep it simple. Start small. But start!