Categotry Archives: missional

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A Changing Sense of Mission (part 1)

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Categories: changing mindsets, General, missional

My friend Kathy recently posted about why the word “missional” bothers her. One of several reasons she cited was: “It feels pretty cruddy to be someone’s mission.”

True dat.

The other reasons she gives are pretty valid, too, but this one really resonated with me because since my journey of deconstruction from institutional Christianity began, I’ve found myself on the radar of some well-meaning Christians, as well, and felt like I had become part of their personal “mission” as they tried subtly (or so they thought) to steer me back to the fold. (Assuming, of course, that I’d actually left said fold.) I’m saying I know what it’s like to be targeted in that way, and Kathy’s right–it feels pretty cruddy.

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What Does Mission Really Look Like? (part 3)

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Categories: changing mindsets, love, missional, Tags: , , , , ,

Okay, so here’s the first post….

Aaaand the second one….

I closed out the previous post with a question: How can each of us make the transition into what I call “agenda-free” mission? Once we recognize how much unnecessary (and often damaging) baggage we have attached to mission by our institutional thinking, how do we change our thinking to participate in the mission of Christ in a more organic way, without worrying about what we might have to gain from it?

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What Does Mission Really Look Like? (part 2)

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Categories: church, missional, Tags: , , ,

First of all…Happy Mothers Day to all the mothers. 🙂

In my previous post, I began rambling about my re-thinking of what mission is, and what it really can look like in the Biblical sense. I talked about how I think we need to get back to the basics with this idea, stripping off the ulterior motives and getting back to something closer to what Jesus modeled for us. (If you need more detail, read the last post to get caught up.)

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What Does Mission Really Look Like? (part 1)

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Categories: food for thought, missional, Tags: , , ,

As I continue on this path of deconstruction, along with many others, it can get very easy to get caught up in just pointing out things that are wrong with the institutional form of church. I think that’s an important part of it–we can’t re-think the things we won’t be honest about–but I also think that’s just one part of the healing process. There are a lot of things in the church that began as right things–we’ve just been going about them the wrong way, and muddling them up in the process. Those are elements that should not be thrown out–just stripped back to basics, or reinvented, or at least placed in a context where they work better.

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Embracing the Changes

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Categories: creativity, How I am, missional, moments of truth

So you’ve probably noticed that over the past few weeks, the number of my posts here has been dwindling considerably. I generally try to get over here at least three times a week, but lately I’ve been fortunate to post once a week. A couple of weeks ago, I simply asked a couple of questions, and the comment section ended up providing enough content to do us all for a month! 🙂

But there is a reason for the reduced posting. I’ve been working on some things on this end, and now it’s time to let you know what I’ve been up to.

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Hijacking the Mission

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Categories: changing mindsets, food for thought, missional

All through March in house church, we’ve themed our meetings around “the mission of Christ”, or missio Dei, whatever term you use to describe it. We’ve been pondering the idea that God has been at work in the earth before we ever got here, that He is working in people’s lives before we encounter them, and will remain after we leave. We’ve talked about how we can participate in God’s mission, and we’ve encouraged one another not to spend this time just trying to “find our place” in the mission, but to try and tap into the heart of it.

In thinking and studying about this, I’m seeing how important it is that we absorb this simple truth, that mission belongs to God, not to the church. Why is it so important to make this distinction?

I’m glad you asked. 🙂

I’ve become more and more convinced that over the centuries, the church has taken ownership of the mission, and the fruits of this are not good. We have forgotten even the meaning of the term many of us use to describe Jesus’ parting instructions to His followers–the “Great Commission”. Commission literally means mission with. We have forgotten that Jesus intended us to be on this mission with Him, not on a mission for Him. And the implications of this are far-reaching. It’s not just about ministers suffering burnout because they took too much responsiblity on their shoulders. When we take ownership of this mission, it changes our whole approach to it.

Let me share just a bit of what happens when the church takes undue ownership of God’s mission. See if you concur:
  1. When the church owns the mission, it becomes a task, assignment and agenda, rather than a lifestyle or heartcry. When we stop seeing God on the mission, we view the Great Commission as our own assignment, our mandate from God. It becomes our task which we must fulfill to hasten the return of Christ. In other words–it’s all up to us. I believe this whole marketing approach to evangelism is based on this wrong mentality, where we see non-believers as targets rather than as people for whom Christ died. We bring this agenda into every relationship, and don’t think for a minute the non-Christians around us don’t sense it. Just like so many MLM schemes, our friends become our prospects. This is what happens when mission becomes our job, when we own it as an assignment rather than participating in something God is already doing.
  2. When the church owns the mission, we perceive that the world’s salvation actually depends on us–that we are the ones who bring the message of Christ to them, and that only the church can introduce people to Christ. We own the theology, truth, and method that the world must adopt in order to be saved; and we see ourselves as the only ones who can bring it to them. I’m not talking about adopting universalism here; I’m talking about who owns the truth. When we take this stance of self-importance, it is actually very dangerous, because in effect, we are supplanting the Savior, and making ourselves the mediator between God and man–a job the Bible makes clear belongs to only one Man, “the man Christ Jesus.” (1 Tim. 2:5) God owns the truth; we do not.
  3. When the church owns the mission, we begin to control the mission rather than participating in it. We set the rules of engagement; we decide when, and how, the good news will be shared, and we decide who is qualified to share it. I’m convinced that this mentality underlies our entire system of ordination (which I think we’ve largely misunderstood) and the hierarchy forms of leadership we’ve developed; and in fact, the entire idea of the church as an institution. As an institution, we perceive ourselves to be the guardians of the mission, the lone outpost for the dispensing of truth. We cover over these control issues by citing the dangers of error and heresy, and the need to protect people–and that sounds reasonable. But if we’re being honest, mostly we try to control it because we think we own it. (Jesus actually dealt with this kind of thing a little bit in the gospels; you can see how He approached it in Luke 9:46-50.)
It seems to me that this seemingly small error in our thinking–that mission belongs to the church rather than to God–has actually caused us to shape mission in a way that Jesus never intended. Instead of participating in something God is already doing–we have effectively hijacked the mission.

I say this so assertively because adjusting this seemingly small error in our thinking also has far-reaching implications. Simply acknowledging that mission belongs to God, that we belong to Him, and that we are participants in what He’s doing, has put this whole thing in a new light for me. I am seeing God, the church, and the world differently. I feel a fresh desire to get involved in it, and I feel a freedom to enjoy it, rather than a drive to perform, or a compulsion to control. And so I feel this is a very important shift that needs to take place in the church. We need to give up our ownership of the Great Commission, and remember that Jesus is still here doing it. He even said so: in Matthew’s version of the Great Commission (Matt. 28), Jesus ended by saying, “Lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the world.” He didn’t just say that to comfort us; He said it to remind us that He was still engaged in mission, that we weren’t going it alone.

I say we’ve “hijacked” the mission–but actually, that’s impossible, if you think about it. Yes, we’ve gotten off track with it–but Jesus never yielded up ownership of it. In fact, that might explain why there are so many things He does in the earth that are off our radar–things that fly in the face of the church’s protocols. Just like He did things that offended the Pharisees.

Think about that one a moment. Selah. 🙂

Maybe it’s time we get off this mission-ownership kick we’ve been on for centuries, and take a good look at what God has been up to while we were making up rules and protocols. We might be surprised at what’s happening out there.

I know it’s surprising me.

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If God Is My Father, How Can Jesus Be My Boyfriend?…

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Categories: food for thought, missional, theological questions

Umm….don’t linger there too long. 🙂

A good friend of mine said something recently that has really resonated in my soul. He said, “Every metaphor breaks down at some point.” NOW does the title make a little sense? 🙂

Since the fall of man, when man essentially became separate and alienated from God…God has been on a mission to redeem man back to Himself, to restore the relationship that was lost. It is a constant theme throughout Scripture, and I believe it continues today. Emergent/Missional types like to refer to this idea as “Missio Dei”–the mission of God.

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Missional: What It Means to Me

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Categories: changing mindsets, church, missional

(This is part of Rick’s synchroblog on “What Is Missional?” See the end of this post for the list of participants.)

I hope I haven’t bitten off more than I can chew.

Although I’ve been a Christian most of my life, and involved in some form of church “ministry” function for most of the time I’ve been a Christian…I have only known of terms like “missional” and “emergent” for the past year and a half. And just when I’m getting used to reading, hearing and saying these types of words…apparently there is already some frustration about their usage, about the labels, about what is associated with them–what they mean, or what they should mean. Hence, the reason for the synchroblog.