Wednesday, August 20, 2014

what can practical everyday mission look like?



WHAT COMES TO MIND WHEN YOU HEAR THE TERM 'PRACTICAL MISSION'?

Some of the answers that came from our elective group tonight included:
"Supporting my mentor at work"
"Gardening for neighbours"
"A conversation about God in the library"
"Being vulnerable with a work colleague when they open up about depression"
"Samaritan's Purse emergency response unit"
"Green Team"
"Care for those in need in our local church"
"Intercessory Prayer"
"Smiling and saying hello"

That's a broad response if ever I saw one - and if we're honest, one of the questions that emerges for us as we look at a list like this is : "is it really mission? If we're coming from an evangelical background, then it's almost like there's a little voice on our shoulder saying, "make sure you present the gospel".

And we carry this complex that if we havn't given people an opportunity to make a decision to follow Jesus everytime we "do mission" then somehow, our missional activity isn't legitimate.  Unfortunately when we operate out of this guilt complex, we tend to emit an odour that smells of "ulterior motive".

Of course, the other problem we face in our attempt to not serve with ulterior motives is that we finish up not telling the story that is transforming our lives.  Ironically, in our desire to operate with integrity we end up not being true to who we are.

SO THEN, HOW DO WE DO PRACTICAL MISSION?

Well, before we answer that one, let's cover another question:

IS IT REALLY MISSION IF THE GOSPEL ISN'T PRESENTED?

The answer is 'no' as far as I'm concerned - but let's be clear about what the gospel is.

WHOLE STORY CONVERSATIONS
The gospel, the good news, is in fact the entire story of God (you could even argue that the term 'gospel' might be interchangeable with 'mission'!)  

If the gospel is the whole story, then any conversation that intersects people with a part of this story is a legitimate presentation of the gospel.

CROSS-SHAPED DEEDS
Not only is the gospel the 'whole story' - it is also our story.  Our activity.  Our good deeds.  Our lives and our interaction with others under the reign of God is good news to God's broken creation, and in particular, human beings.  I think this is what Jesus was referring to in Matthew 5:14-16.   

If the gospel is good news through our activity, then my "good works" (cross-shaped deeds) are a legitimate presentation of the gospel.

SO THEN, HOW DO WE DO PRACTICAL MISSION?

To be honest, the possibilities are endless!  A simple start for me has been to think through how Jesus equipped and sent the 72 in Luke 10.

I use three words from verse 8&9 to help me discern the work of God's Spirit as I participate in His mission activity:


  • EAT - having been invited, a joining in community with those already at a 'table'

  • HEAL - having noticed brokenness, a seeking to bring or speak God's healing through conversational prayer

  • TELL - having built relationship, a telling of God's kingdom and His story through my own story 


It might be that more can be said here - but for me, this is a starting point.


Next week - "How can EBC become more missional?"



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