I believe in living missionally in the world. I believe we are called to co-create the world around us by adding our word to God’s word of redemption and restoration. You see, we are created in the image of a God who spoke, gave his word, to creating realities.
God spoke the word “Light!” and there was light.
God spoke the word “Trees!” and trees sprang forth from the ground.
Creation exists and is sustained by the very word of God. And we are created in the image of the word-speaking creator God. Which means, our words have the power to create realities. No, we cannot create something from nothing with our words, but our words create powerfully real realities. Call someone an “idiot” or “loser” or “slut” and try deny the reality you create. I often think we do not fully grasp the power harbored in the depth of our words.
God has spoken redemption and restoration over the world. He has given his word by the giving us of his Word, and he did so because he so loved the world. Salvation, redemption, is an invitation to co-create a new reality, a new world, by the adding of our word to God’s word.
For me, this is what it means to live missionally in the world.
But “missional” has been reduced to a buzz word that means nothing because it means all things. Churches have adopted missional language without adopting missional ideals. Outreach has been relabeled. Church growth rebranded. House churches made into missional communities.
It means everything and it means nothing.
So here is my feeble definition. Actually, it isn’t my definition at all, but is a definition I have learned through my friend, Jim, and his amazing organization Faithwalking (check out the website for more information).
Missional Living is taking responsibility for the condition of the land by giving your word to its restoration.
Last week my friend, Glennon, posted an amazing story of a teacher who took responsibility for the condition of her classroom. That’s missional living. That teacher saw that something was broken. Something was not as it should be. And didn’t sit back and wait for someone to do something, but took responsibility and did what she could to improve the condition of the land.
I don’t want to negate what that woman did, in fact, I want to hold it up as an example of what it means to live missionally. But I want to take it farther. What if, rather than one teacher taking responsibility for one classroom, every teacher took responsibility for the entire school? What if it was not a solitary endeavor, but teachers got together to take responsibility for the school beyond teaching? What if they got together every Friday to consider the condition of the “land” that is the school?
What if pastors and churches got together to consider the condition of the land? Not just the spiritual condition – although that is important, but the physical and emotional condition of the land? What if they got out of their holy huddle and worked with city officials and other organizations for the condition of the land?
What if parents took responsibility for the condition of the schools and didn’t pass it off on teachers and administrators?
What if you took responsibility for the condition of the gym you go to? The Starbucks you frequent?
What if you took responsibility for your block? You neighborhood? Your street by giving your word to its wholeness and restoration?
Currently, I am in conversations with city officials trying to figure out how churches can come alongside the city to better our community. Our most recent idea is utilizing the immense amount of land that church own to create community gardens where fresh produce is donated to local food pantries. Is it going to fix hunger? Nope. But will help? Yes. And it will lead to other ideas and opportunities for all of us to take responsibility for the condition of the land.
I’m no expert in this. I am a fellow learner who is not satisfied with the way things are, and fully believing that God wants to use his people in his restorative work.
Let us not be fooled, we cannot try and do this by ourselves. The task it too big. Too much needs to be done. The world needs the people of God to work together and take responsibility for the land. We need to collaborate, forming groups of people who are willing to give their word to the restoration of the land. Christians are not simply saved from our sins, but we are saved to the epic task of joining God in his redemptive work in this world.
And so we pray “Thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven,” and ask for the Spirit to help us keep our word as we work for restoration.
What about you? What needs do you see around you? What would it mean to give your word and take responsibility for the condition of the land?