Recently I attended the Sunday service of a church looking to be "missional." Knowing my research interests, a key staff person spoke with me about a whip-bang event they're planning, complete with free food and bounce houses for the kids. "We're trying to reach out to the neighborhood," she told me.
Although I didn't mean to, I think my heart went numb. My simple question is this one: When will we come to understand that "missional" isn't the next event, but the next breath, all that we are, used of God, led by the Spirit to usher in the Kingdom to any and all "dark" places? "You [not free food or bounce houses] are the light of the world" [Mt 5:14]. I tell you the truth, as long as we think in terms of events we're sunk in the water.
Does this mean bounce houses and hot dogs are off limits? Absolutely not. For example, my friend Scott Wilson makes use of his Big Red Bus
appropriately; that is, he doesn't see "Big Red" as a tool, but as a blessing
. There's a difference. Scott puts it this way, "We want to love people whether they ever love our God or not." When we use tools, we manipulate
. When we bless, we're a blessing
In the end, motives will always find us out. And too often, when we "do" events, we're looking for a "return," thereby "objectifying" people. Instead, let's be faithful to embody the gospel, sow the Word (often by sharing verbally), let God bring a harvest, and reap when the time is right.
When it comes to missional, think nets, not hooks. Jesus said, "Come, follow me, and I will make you fishers of people" (Mt 4:19). Notice the imagery. Hooks are baited, attractional. Nets of relationships, however, are all-encompassing and those in the process of being "caught" are swept away in a torrent of love.
Now, with Jesus at the helm, let's go throw our nets on the other side of the boat.