Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Toward Being Missional

When I first entered the emerging conversation, I was confronted by the fact that my entire Christian life had existed within a Christian bubble.

The extent of my outward focus had been evangelism(I sucked at that) and missions and charity(write a check).

"At this point, I didn't give much thought to the poor or the lost. Our 'calling' was to the church, to raise up, to train, and to disciple."

I had followed the predictable Christian path of being in the church long enough that I no longer really knew people who weren't Christians. How was I going to learn to connect with unbelievers again?

I was challenged with the idea of living a missional life. But I couldn't seem to get my arms around that idea.

How could I put feet to it? As this stirred in my heart, I struggled with the idea that I should be doing something.

Maybe I needed to find some poor people to serve. I wasn't really sure how to go about that. Perhaps volunteerism was the answer.

"To be honest, I've been sheltered behind the walls of the church for so many years, that I don't really know how to connect in a meaningful way."

I realized in my recent posts about privilege and status that if I am ever going to be missional, God first wants to change my heart.

He wants to change the way I see people. The gospel, embodying Christ, being missional, loving others all begin with with recognizing the social inequities and systems of power that exist everywhere around me.

The first step in becoming missional requires changing the way that I see.

Lord, help me to see what you see.

More about this later.


Pam Hogeweide said...

I hear ya Grace. Over the years I became distressed at how out of touch my insulated life had become. For the past year I have been hyper-aware about this and have honestly taken steps to try to break out of my Christian cage. I am intentionally trying to spend time with people who do not share my beliefs. I am reading books by non-Christian authors and listening to a broader range of music. I'm trying to get to know my neighbors, most of whom are not Christian or church goers. I listen to all kinds of talk radio, including (gasp!) liberal radio programs like Air America or NPR. I'm trying to get onboard as a volunteer for a local non-profit writing outfit (non-religious).

Yeah, we gotta break out of the Christian matrix and get immersed into the culture and community around us. So we have to pay attention to how we spend our time (don't let church activities monopolize our schedule) and who we spend our time with (make effort to get to know pre-Christians, as Graham Cooke calls people who are not Christ followers :-) )...what about you Grace? do you have any contact with The Outside World?

Jamie Arpin-Ricci said...

I really appreciate your honesty in this area. Many people have challenged our use of short-term "missions" in this respect. However, the way we have developed it here is that we attempt to create encounters with the divine in the people and place where God is waiting for His people to join Him. We have found that peoples hearts- the ways people see the poor, the broken, the exploited- are transformed, not through explaining ideas or articulating theology (though they are useful), but in offering an incarnational encounter with those ideals and beliefs on the stage where God is waiting. Thanks for this reminder.


Bruce said...

Thanks Grace. Something I've been struggling with lately is how I live my "safe" form of Christianity. WASP Christianity. It's been so long since I've had a real experience of the kind of Christianity that Jesus talked about that I've forgotten what it looks like.

Thanks again.


PS - go wish Mr. Cho a happy birthday.

grace said...

My world is very confined for now. My focus and time is spent homeschooling my four kids, in addition to helping with our business. There is little time for extras right now.

It's hard for me to imagine life beyond the fences I find myself in right now.

Thank you for sharing from your point of view about this. I can certainly appreciate what you are saying. I believe an encounter like that would help in understanding incarnational ministry and to begin to see the poor as "us" rather than "them."

I've been struggling with the same thing and weighing the price of a more radical walk.

ron said...

Hi Grace, I think for far to long the " church " has had sort of a fortress mentality when it came to mission/evangelism...it was a complicated strategy that sent out to few. With more people on the fringe and engaging...it's becoming a little more fluid and real.
I remember Scot Mcknight say this a while back...Doesn’t matter what you are called to do, you are to be the presence of Christ to others.

Which means: the missional call is essentially the call to incarnate Jesus in our work. It means we are not on our own, it means this is not about us, it means this is not about programs and size and glory, but about being Jesus to others by surrendering who we are and what we do to the Kingdom calls us into.

I’m guessing one question Jesus would have asked his missioners is this, or something like this, “Did the people around you see me in you?” We might ask about numbers and changes and impact, but Jesus would ask “Whom did they see in you?”


grace said...

Thanks for your thoughts. They are encouraging. What the Lord is showing me lately is that being Jesus to those around me begins with seeing them as He does, not necessarily as I do.

I have had a lot of sacred/secular dualism to deprogram in order to understand the kingdom in a more accurate, less religious way.