Missional Transformation is a process of discovery that begins when believers recognize their responsibility to align themselves (passions, desires, behaviors, habits) with the missionary purpose of Jesus. This transformation is fueled by a passionate, fervent commitment to the knowledge of the glory of God filling the earth as the water covers the sea (Hab. 2:14). As pastors and believers begin to experience Missional Transformation, there are significant shifts that begin to take place in the way we view our participation with Christ and His kingdom.
I will be posting a series of these shifts – which reflect a greater awareness of Jesus’ missionary purposes and a commitment to joining other to accomplish the mission.
SHIFT 1: From Assignment to Alignment
Many Christians view the Great Commission as the missionary assignment of those who are called by God to a foreign mission field. Others view Jesus’ commission as the original disciples’ assignment or task, but they do not believe that it is the responsibility of every Christ follower. For most Christians, missions is the task or assignment of specially-trained missionaries who leave their culture to reach those who are currently unreached. A relatively smaller number of Christians view missions as the global/local task of every believer
The reality is that many of the Christians in America view missions as an assignment. The compilation Perspectives On The Unfinished Task (1984) was an attempt by Ralph Winter, David Bryant and other missionary leaders to draw the attention of Christians in America toward accomplishing the assignment of worldwide evangelization and discipleship. This call was both necessary and appropriate – and many Christians and churches joined in.
However, during the last quarter of the 20th century, many churches have adopted an attractional approach to evangelism. Believers are encouraged to bring their friends and neighbors to church to be saved. This has become a popular model for churches in America. Thousands of churches across the nation are now orienting their Sunday (weekend) “church service” toward unbelievers. By inviting someone to church, a church member can fulfill their evangelism assignment. And the task of individual disciplemaking is greatly neglected.
When you read the Book of Acts, it is obvious that Christians in the first century did not view the Great Commission as an assignment given only to the original disciples. In fact, by their behavior it appears that proclaiming the Good News (Gospel) was not an assignment at all – it was a way of life. The early church was together on mission with Jesus. They turned Jerusalem upside down. How? They aligned themselves with Jesus and His missionary purpose. They saw themselves as those who were sent by Jesus with the gospel to those in the culture around them.
Missional Transformation requires believers to reject the idea that the Great Commission is the task of the apostles, the missionary assignment for specially trained believers who go to foreign lands, or that it is simply one of many tasks/assignments for believers to do. Instead, they embrace Jesus’ missionary purpose as their own and align themselves in such a way that they function as missionaries where they live, where they work, and where they play. Do you view the Great Commission as an assignment?
How have you aligned your life with Jesus’ missionary purpose?