A topic that has dominated a lot of my reading and prayer lately has been that of missional living. Living intentionally in such a way that you reach others for Christ’s kingdom in the normal, everyday things. My mentor and I have been talking about it, there’s a group associated with my denomination doing such a thing in Chicago, and it is the “it” topic in Christian ministry publication right now. At least in the circles I run in.
And that’s fine and dandy for me. I’ve read a lot of the books. I follow a lot of the blogs. I have lots of discussions about this. But the real question is:
Am I living it?
That is what I struggle with. I want to and try to live this way but at the end of every day, I wonder. I find it difficult to live missionally in a subdivision that values privacy as evidenced in the very architecture of the place. Fences. Garage doors. Etc. It is feasible that I would never have to see one of my neighbors face to face if I didn’t want to thanks to my garage door opener.
So how do I reach those around me for Christ?
I’ve taken a job at a local community college in part to be able to speak into people’s lives the love of Christ. To share a talent I have (math!) with those who need it and help them succeed in their lives.
But regardless, at the end of the day, I still wonder if I’m making an impact. Should I be doing something differently?
It is here that I think I’ve stumbled on two issues concerning missional living.
First, I think it does/has to look different depending on the community. Those living missionally in a subdivision are going to do it differently than those in an apartment complex in a busy downtown residential area. I simply don’t have as many “contacts” with those around me as someone living downtown. As a result it may feel like my “progress” or “effect” for the kingdom is a lot slower.
That is the second issue: there is rarely measurable progress. It is a matter of degrees and relationships. Not boxes checked or steps accomplished. The achievement-driven side of me (really, there is no other side to me) struggles with this. I simply cannot sit down at the end of the day and mark of a to-do list as far as living missionally is concerned. It doesn’t work that way.
It is more organic than that.
It is more natural than that.
It takes time to develop the relationships and to show God’s love to the people in those relationships.
Thus my struggle with living missionally: it takes time.
Nonetheless, I believe this is what discipleship looks like going forward in the church. This is not just a new program or method to be added to the piles of others tried and discarded. This is a getting back to basics in a post-Christendom world where most of us are only used to a culture where Christendom reigns supreme.
So my prayer today is that God may grant us the grace to make the long, slow journey together that is missional living.
And hopefully, as a result, we will see the great commission fulfilled, piece by piece, relationship by relationship, and person by person.
Grace and peace.