So you’ve heard this word “missional” around Chrio- I hope you have, anyway. We have “missional communities” and we’re asking God to help us live, individually and together, in ways that demonstrate and incarnate (put skin on) the love and truth of Jesus.
But maybe you’re wondering where to start. Here are some great ideas- I’ve taken them (directly) from a guy named Jared Wilson, who is doing life missionally with others in Nashville, TN. You can check his church’s site out at http://www.elementnashville.org Take a look at these, give them some thought, try out what you sense God prompting you in. Here’s Jared:
Here are five things any believer can do to adopt the practice of missionalization:
1. Pray For a Changed Heart
All believers should be praying “without ceasing” anyway, but what is harder to do is to pray intentionally and regularly for people you don’t see . . . and maybe don’t like. Pray that God will give you a heart for those outside your sphere of daily life that you never see, and pray that God will give you a heart for those inside your sphere of daily life that you often would rather not spend time with.
One of the aims of missional life is getting outside ourselves and our self-interest, and one powerful way to do this is to pray that God will teach us to care deeply for people we normally would rather not spend even a few minutes with. This is the crux of incarnational living: emptying oneself for the sake of the quote-unquote “unlovable.” That is the purest heart of grace, and that is the missional aim.
2. Meditate on the Gospel of the Kingdom
The gospel is the power of salvation for all who believe. It is the gem of God’s revelation to us. There is no greater piece of information, no greater piece of news, no greater blueprint for living than the good news that Jesus is King and his kingdom has come. Read the Gospels and chew on them, pray through them, study them, memorize them. Read books and listen to messages that herald the kingdom. Talk to people about what it means to be the kingdom of God. A lot.
The more excited you get about the wonder and beauty of what it means to live as citizens of heaven, the more motivated you will be to actually live as a citizen of heaven.
Obviously you cannot stop at study and meditation.
3. Talk to Your Neighbors
Or do anything really that gets you out of an insulated existence and into the presence of your neighbors and others in your community. You can start small. Hang out outside. Walk across the yard or the street to chat. Offer a neighbor a piece of yard equipment or a tool you think he might want to use. Talk about the school, talk about your kids, talk about the weather. Talk about anything. Just get out and be present.
Over time a relationship will develop. You may actually find it happening more quickly than you imagined. I had only four or five conversations with my neighbor before he told me a close family member had just died and it made him think a lot about religion. I don’t believe he told me that because we were close or because I always brought up religion with him (I hadn’t mentioned anything spiritual at all by that point). I believe he told me that because he, like all of us, are starving to be known and to share. We’re chomping at the bit for relational intimacy.
Go help somebody. There are lots of volunteer agencies and charities that need help. Don’t worry about not having enough time. One day a month makes a difference to many of them.
The key here is not to just throw money at something (although that’s good too). It is to get out of your house and interact with people doing mission work and with people who need help.
5. Go Public With Your Church
Have your Bible study or small group in a public place. Coffee shops, cafes, food courts, etc. Exercise your spiritual disciplines in the public eye, not just in the privacy of your homes or church classrooms. And ask your church to have groups out in public like this. It may not work for everyone and for every purpose, but by “doing church” in public, we accomplish two things:
a) We make it a more comfortable environment for people to invite friends.
b) We get used to the feeling of living spiritually in the public community (as many members of the Church universal do every day around the world).
These five practices do not encompass missional living or missional ecclesiology. They are merely a start, just some basics. But these practices are a good Starting Five for individuals interested in what it might mean to begin thinking through missional discipleship.