Recently, I volunteered to participate with others in answering this question. There’s been a lot of blogs about “being missional,” “missional living,” and “missional behaviors.” I’ve posted a lot about missional Christianity, missional transformation, missional distinctives, and missional practices.
When I finished my doctoral dissertation last year on Fueling Missional Movements that Transform America, I thought that I would eventually post most of it on my blog. Slowly and steadily, I keep pulling content from my dissertation and posting it on my blog along with current activities and interactions.
So—when I began to think about how to answer this question, of course, I figured I had already addressed it numerous times. However, here are some additional thoughts…
In its essence missional living is simply about “embodying the mission and message of Jesus.”
As followers of Jesus, we ought to seek to “be Jesus to everyone everywhere.”
In Acts 1:8, Jesus tells His closest followers, “But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be My witnesses both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and even to the remotest part of the earth.” The mission of Jesus does not begin at the ends of the earth or the other side of the planet. It started in Jerusalem, which is right where they were.
For believers today, the mission of Jesus starts right where you are. The Church does not exist to bring people in; rather it exists as those who are sent out with the mission and message of Jesus, those who are sent to be His witnesses.
Mission is not merely an activity of the church. It is the very heartbeat and work of God. It is in the very being of God that the basis for the missionary enterprise is found. God is a sending God, with a desire to see humankind and creation reconciled, redeemed, and healed. The missional church, then, is a sent church. It is a going church, a movement of God through His people, sent to bring healing to a broken world (Shaping of Things to Come, p 18).
Jesus calls His followers to join Him in His mission to save the world! Jesus said, “Follow Me and I will make you fishers of men.” He did not say, “Believe in me so that you can go to heaven.” In fact, Jesus laid down extraordinary criteria. He said, “If anyone wishes to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me” (Mark 8:34). He expands that by saying, “If anyone comes to Me, and does not hate his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes, and even his own life, he cannot be My disciple” (Luke 14:26).
He is emphatic on this condition. Unless we deny ourselves, we cannot be His disciples. “For whoever wishes to save his life shall lost it; but whoever loses his life for My sake and the gospel’s shall save it” (Mark 8:35).
Jesus calls every Christian to a life of radical transformation and devotion to Christ and His mission. The sad thing is that what many Christians think is the highest level of Christianity is for Jesus the entry point.
The disciples of Jesus were not extraordinary individuals. In fact, they were described as ignorant and unlearned men. Their spiritual pedigree was far from pure. They were a band of fishermen, tax collectors, and social outcasts. Yet it was with men like these that God began His revolution of faith, hope, and love.
The Great Commission is given to every Christ-follower, not just the pastors and elders and super-spiritual Christians!
No one can say: ‘Since I’m not called to be a missionary, I do not have to evangelize my friends and neighbors.’ There is no difference, in spiritual terms, between a missionary witnessing in his home town and a missionary witnessing in Katmandu, Nepal. We are all called to go—even if it is only to the next room, or the next block” (Thomas Hale, On Becoming a Missionary, p 6).
Missional Living is for every believer!
To me, Missional Living is about doing my part to complete His mission while I am on this earth. It’s about leading others to follow Jesus. It’s about proclaiming the good news of salvation. It’s about giving people the gift of eternal life. It’s about seeking the lost. It’s about obedience to Jesus. It’s about being a good follower. It’s about caring for the needs of others – not just to convert someone – but because you care!
Christians are those who have been sent by God with the gospel to their culture. Every one of us is sent on mission with the Holy Spirit’s power! And we are sent in community with other believers! When you commit to follow Jesus, you are saying, “Count me in! I am here on this earth to partner together with other Christians who are radically devoted to pursuing Christ’s mission of saving the world!” What could be better than that?