Archives For Missional

I live in New England, which doesn’t really have a ton of urban centers. And of all the states in New England, I live in Maine, with the total population of 1.3 million, as of 2012. I guess this is part of the reason that I often get emails asking about doing mission in a rural context. As way of preface, I do live in the second largest area in Maine, which is by no means a bustling metropolis. The population of the greater Lewiston/Auburn area where I minister is roughly 107,000 spread out over 497 square miles.

Cows on Meadow

All of that to say I have been thinking a ton about what it looks like to live on mission in a context where it is totally normal to drive 30-40 minutes to get your weekly ration of food, also known as grocery shopping. Or where your school district is three towns together and you still only have a few hundred students in the 9-12th grades. I have been thinking about this not only because I get emails about it, but because these are the people I minister to. These are the people who weekly call my church home. Below are some of my thoughts on ministering to people who are not within walking distance or even within a few miles.

One of the most forgotten elements of mission is simply asking the Spirit. It seems like a no-brainer, but in my own life and in the lives of people I chat with, it is often the last thing people think of. The most simple question that can be asked, whether you live in a big city or your closest neighbor is miles away, is “where would you have me connect with people?” When you seek the Spirit, know that He will answer you.

Along the lines of the asking the Spirit one helpful thing to do is to start figuring out what people are doing, and do that. Again, seems simple (it really is) yet we overlook this. We try to do bean suppers, or harvest parties to reach those in our community. However, if we were to give an honest assessment, we would most likely see that the only people at these events are believers. If Friday night high-school football is big, get connected there. If it is a fall fair, connect there. Don’t attempt to bring the people to a building for an event, but go out and do the things they are doing. Maybe this coming Halloween instead of attempting to do a harvest party, you should dress your kids up and go trick-or-treating with your neighbors.

No matter where you live, you should be living on mission. With this call to live on mission in our own context one thing I have found helpful is to target one place, one people, one target area. This doesn’t mean you only talk to three people and never anyone else, but what it does mean is that you are intentional about the places you go, the people you interact with, and the way you connect with those people. Part of it is repetition. Being in the same place week in and week out will cause you to build relationships.  If there is a local diner or hole-in-the wall coffee shop, even if it is not a cool, hip place, start going there, tip well, and go often. Maybe it is the local gas station that serves burnt coffee and stale donuts but people are there. The goal is not the food, it is the people that start their day at that same gas station every single day.

No matter how small the place you live is, there is bound to be some type of restaurant. Much like the thought above, be intentional about going to the same place with your family and friends and be a blessing to that establishment.

Get involved in the city council in some way. Serve on it, or simply attend the city council meetings. In many small towns, there are openings within the local city government, places where you can get to know people in the town, serve the town, and bless the town. These positions are not like the political positions that fill the TV each fall, they are usually a small group of people who like the way their town is, and want to make sure it stays that way. This is a great place to get to know people, love people and serve your town.

In most small towns, the public school will be a major center point and place where people spend their time. Where else in a town of 2,000 will there regularly be large groups of people who you can serve and bless? Where else will there be a place to connect with both those who are rich and well of and those who can barely make it by? The local school is that place. Maybe you can coach sports or serve at school events. Maybe you and your wife can connect with the administration and let them know you would like to help with fundraising, or whatever you are gifted in. If you have children who attend the local school you should be the first to sign up to help and serve in whatever way you can.

Besides seeking the Spirit, the most practical thing you can do to live on mission in a rural area is be a blessing. We have been blessed immensely by our Lord, not so we can hoard our blessings, but so we may be able to be a blessing to others.Whatever skills you have been given. Whatever financial blessing you might have. If you are an amazing cook, these things have been given to you, not for your glory, but the glory of God!

There really is not much difference between living on mission in a large urban context, and a rural context, other than distances. Those of us who live in a rural context can believe the lie that if only I lived in a big city, mission would be easy. Or we could embrace our call as ambassadors of Jesus Christ and live on mission because that is what Jesus did on our behalf. And Jesus did it in small towns with no Starbucks or foursquare check in. Maybe what we need to start with is a heart that is actually broken for those in our community. Maybe that is the best way to live on mission in your town, broken for the people who call your town home.

We are Not Missional

January 8, 2013 — Leave a comment

As the culture quickly moves from being formed by a Christian story to a story that is void of any Christian storyline at all, we as church leaders need to quickly move our people to live on mission.

Missional Church

However, the church is not reacting the way we would think or may hope. The majority of the church is not compelled to live a life on mission. It would seem that if we have accepted the gospel, and have received forgiveness from Jesus, then we would quickly run to a lost world and share the hope we have found. However, this is often not the case.

Here are a few of the reasons I have observed in my own life, my church’s life and in the lives of those I have interacted with as to why the church is not being moved to live a life that is compelled by the mission of God.

People are too busy - 

This busyness is not only from work, family, or hobbies, it is from the church attempting to build up the church. We pack people’s nights and weekends with church based activities. All of these things cause an undue stress and unneeded internal strife between doing what the church is doing or being with lost people. If the people who are part of your church are busy every night and weekend with church stuff, how will they ever be able to reach lost people?

They don’t know how - 

Far too many people think there is a magical equation, or formula that they need to master before they can minister to those who do not yet know Jesus. They are waiting for their pastor or leader to tell them exactly the right combination to unlocking the gates of heaven for lost souls. However there is not one magical formula, there is only people who live changed by the gospel and proclaim that gospel!

They don’t care - 

Since we have made the church service, the church programs, and the church function all about those who attend, we have also made their Christian walk all about them. Since it is about them, they don’t really care about other people, especially those who do not believe what they believe, then there is no point in caring about lost people.

Lack of prayer and Spirit leading - 

We don’t pray. We don’t trust the Spirit to work, so therefore mission is on my shoulders and yours, not on God’s! He is the One who leads, guides, and works, not us. Pastor, you need to know this. Church family, you need to know, understand, and embrace this truth. Seek the Spirit to change your heart to actually love the lost and lead you to reach them. If you’re busy, seek the Spirit to free up some time in your life so you can actually do what the Bible has called us to do.

You are not living on Mission -

Finally, and maybe most importantly, the leader is not living on mission, so how can those in the church live on mission. I know far too many pastors who do not actually have much, if any, interaction with unbelievers, unless they happen to stumble into their Sunday service. Pastor, this is not fulfilling the great commission. We do not see anywhere in Scriptures someone who sat for 30 hours in an office only to emerge and preach for 45 minutes on Sunday.

There are more things that could be added, but as I survey my own heart, the people in my church family, and those in churches I interact with, these things quickly rise to top. What could you add to this list?

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The other day I noticed a note card on my side table, next to my bed. I guess I had been using it as a bookmark or something. It was from a service I had attended on September 27, 2009.  The speaker was Viju Abraham, a pastor from India who is friends with our family and supported by EABC, the church where I was a youth pastor.

Seven

The card was from my notes of his message on how we are called to witness to people. Viju works in a part of India that is very closed off to the gospel message, so I was eager to listen to what he had to say, and see how the Spirit had been leading him to minister to people in India with the love of Jesus.

The following are 7 ways in which we can witness to people.

  1. Verbal – The message is for the whole world to hear. Romans 1.14-16
  2. Character and Radiance – A witness is to share what you know yourself. People are always watching our actions. 1 Corinthians 3.2-3; 2 Corinthians 3.17-18
  3. Ethics – We are the salt and the light. If we don’t have saltiness, we are useless. Matthew 5.13
  4. Works – All we are called to do is light a candle. Matthew 5.14-15
  5. Power - 1 Corinthians 2.1-5
  6. Community, Love and Unity – Men will know Jesus because of our love for one another - John 13.34-35. Our unity, as the church of Jesus, shows the world that it is for real - John 17.20-23
  7. Way of life – Our lives lived out for other people, not for ourselves. 1 Corinthians 10.31

Now I bet there is much more, helpful content within the whole message. These were just my rough notes from the message (and I could not find the sermon online). But these are good points to think about.

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Here is a video of Jeff Vanderstelt from the Verge conference entitled Why I’m Tired Of “Missional”. His encouragement is to stay where God has put you and called you!

This is Discipling

July 1, 2011 — 1 Comment

Here is a great video. In this is much of my heart for my church plant.

[If you are reading in RSS or EMail click here for video]

[HT: Timmy Brister]