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Welcome! The primary purpose of this blog is to explore and encourage around what it means to be winsome and sent into the world for God's glory. If you are new here, the definition of "lighthouse-searchlight" or our missional journey is a good place to start. Come peruse the blog and add me to your RSS feed!

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

mission(al) as worship

I have written before (HERE and HERE) about an apparent tension between worship and mission.  And I still clearly remember a passionate "discussion" with one of my dear friends on whether worship or mission was more primary to our purpose and calling as Christians (I argued at the time for worship).

I have intuitively clung to both as significantly important to our purpose and calling, but the present sermon series has helped clarify for me the connection (and perhaps unity) between the two activities.

As Jesus responds in Luke 15 to the grumbling of the religious sort over his association with the non-religious sort, he tells three "lost" stories.  We rightly focus on God's seeking of the lost (missional!), which is the "hook" of each story, but I (at least) have failed to really absorb the "punchline" of each story, which is God's profound joy and rejoicing over those who are found.  Sunday's Luke 15 sermon HERE.

We believe that God created us to share in the joy of a "this is good!" creation.  We confess it as our chief end, and we see the lead characters in each of the parables in Luke 15 calling together friends and family to celebrate when the lost are found.  To participate in God's missional activity is to share in God's joy - and that is worship!  It is not the full extent of our worship, but it joins our sent-ness to our coming together and it draws a vital life-line between our love of God and our love of neighbor.

Just some Monday morning ponderings.... :)

Tuesday, May 04, 2010

missional does as missional is

Though I don't use the term "missional" much in everyday conversation (I've stuck with the lighthouse/searchlight metaphor in our context), I do use it in conversations with others beyond my local context.

But both in my own context and in conversations with people outside it, I realize that many of us continue to struggle with BEING or BECOMING missional in our identity.  The default for American Christianity, even bombarded with missional teaching and resources, is to try to create one more new program - that is to focus on DOING "this missional stuff" and hope that makes us missional.

There is proverbial wisdom to "one is as one does" - (perhaps immortalized in the negative sense by Forrest Gump's "stupid is as stupid does").  Certainly if we repeat behavior, our identity is shaped and molded, whether for good or ill.  But when several generations of "mission and outreach" in our churches has resulted in a small handful of go-getters doing hands-on mission and most of us simply paying others to do God's work, I wonder if "missional is as missional does" is going to work out.

I have been wrestling with flipping that around: missional does as missional is.  As strong as the dynamic of behavior shaping identity is, the dynamic of behavior flowing out of identity is even stronger.  And we find so much more energy and LIFE in the latter (again, for good or ill - and even as I type this I realize the far-reaching implications of this observation beyond the scope of the "missional" conversation... but that'll keep 'til another day). 

The huge apparent challenge of primarily approaching missional BEING over DOING is that naming and re-shaping Christian identity so that it results in action seems (and is!) a humanly impossible task.  But in the same way that it is God's job to save people, so it is the declared work of Christ (so says the scripture) to give us a new identity.  My job as a pastor, and indeed our job as Christ-followers, is to declare what is already true in Christ.

Jesus said he came to seek and save the lost - to obediently serve the mission God gave him.  As believers, our identity is found in Jesus Christ, and as Christ followers, we follow him into mission.

We can create "mission (or missional) programs" or send money for people to "do Christ's work," and it is possible that doing so may begin to inform us as to our Christian identity.  But would it not be far more effective and LIFE-GIVING to root our missional activity in the missional identity we have in Jesus Christ?

Missional does as missional is.  What would that look like in your context?


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