Recently, Tom and I were walking through a community that we had visited many times early in our marriage. We even lived in this community for a summer over 24 years ago. I had not been back since 1990, and Tom neither, but for a few days last January. I was surprised at those things which remained the same over the years, and yet seeing that these years had also brought about many changes. One of which was that there were no more outhouses behind each house! Plumbing and sewers had finally eliminated their necessity.
The wind was blowing the dust of the street into our faces and the clouds were threatening rain. It was cold for May, even this far north. We had the endless series of dogs guarding their section of the street, running up to our heels sniffing to determine if we were friend or foe, and also the occasional "Hey Tom" or "Katie!" from some window or doorway, causing us to wave back and take a few minutes for a visit as we'd make our way over to their home. We walked into many homes during our long weekend there.
Our purpose in our walk was not to check out the new changes, but rather to make ourselves available to people and God for encounters that would hopefully lead to prayer, encouragement, affirmation, healing, counsel, correction and sweet fellowship between old and new friends. We had wonderful visits! We saw the Spirit of God among us working to strengthen those who belong to Him, and gently "woo" those who had not yet joined the family of God. We saw Him heal wounds and encourage hearts. We saw Him draw people to Himself. We spent most of our days like this - seeking out opportunities, listening and watching for what God wanted to do.
God is a seeking God - and is always at work (Jesus words), so those of us who follow Him must be doing the same. That is being missional. It's not anything else - and trendy as the word may be these days, it is simply getting OUT THERE and letting God use you to touch people with His Presence.
That's missional, simple and organic.
In the home we stayed in, there was another visitor. This man had also been invited up by our hosts as they were exploring
what simple, organic and missional life and fellowship looks like, and had invited us up to share on it. They
wanted this man's input about what we were sharing. He was familiar with the community, having come up previously a number of times to do the classic "outreach meetings". These are meetings with the usual mission protocol -i.e. billed with a speaker who is known for: healing, teaching, signs and wonders, deliverance, etc. etc. The message is "come and encounter Jesus at this meeting!" (Now, I'm not saying these mission venues are wrong or bad. I have done them, and will likely will do these style meetings again at some point if that is what God directs.) My point is not to trash these venues - but rather challenge the paradigm a bit.
The paradigm of sitting in one place waiting for people to come to you.
This man sat in the house for 5 days, with the exception of a of couple long fishing trips, mostly talking with the couple who were hosting, their kids, Tom and I, and a couple of people who came by one day for a barbecue. His paradigm was, "I'm here, come to me". Few did.
In contrast, Tom and I had the paradigm of, "We're here, and we're coming to you!".
Traditional verses missional.
Now, please hear my heart. I'm not trying to trash this man, his ministry in serving God for many years, nor any fruit that may have come from it. But the contrast of his sitting in the house day after day waiting for some opportunity to come to him, and Tom and I walking out of the house many times during a given day to go and SEEK those opportunities is the point of this blog post today.
So much is being said about "missional" these days which is convoluting the real meaning. Let's get it straight - missional means "get out there!"
See what God is doing and join Him in His mission "to reach those who are lost", bringing the Presence of "Christ who lives in you to will and work according to His good pleasure", and to "strengthen those who are struggling".
That's simple, it's organic and completly missional.