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
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
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