On a more positive note here are 3 things “to do”:
1 GET CLARITY ON “MISSIONAL”
I know this seems obvious, but it is very hard to lead others in missional living if you don’t have much clarity on it yourself. When some people say “missional” they are thinking “social justice activity” while others think “evangelism” (and the list goes on and on). The bottom line is you have no idea what people are really hearing when you say “missional”, so get some clarity for yourself before you go….
2 LIVE IT YOURSELF
This is the most basic of leadership principles, and we all know it. If you want the people in your community to love their neighbors, you might want to start loving yours. If you want your community to show mercy to the poor, begin to love the poor yourself. If you want your community to share the Gospel with non Christians, get to know, love, and speak the Gospel to some of the non Christians in your life.
3 EQUIP THE SAINTS
If you want the people in your community to live on mission, most of them are going to need some tools. The theory of art doesn’t make a great painting, you need a canvas, paint, and a brush. The theory of music doesn’t make a hit song, you need melody, instruments, and somebody that can sing. In the same way the theory of missional living doesn’t create everyday mission, people need help, people need tools.
Hope this helps…
What did I miss? What else are we “to do” when leading missional communities?
In all of the “missional community” talk it can be good to pause from time to time and ask some questions:
Am I really a part of a missional community?
Is “missional community” just a new name for “small group”?
What is our mission anyway?
Here are 4 signs that you are part of a missional community. (which I define as a community of people who, by Gods grace, are devoted to Jesus, one another, and their neighbors.)
1 THERE ARE RECKLESS SINNERS AT THE DINNER TABLE
If everybody in your “missional community” has read Total Church, knows who Tim Keller is, and “gets” the Gospel, you may need to re-think your mission. Devotion to Jesus will lead us to a place where we actually know, love, and share meals, life, and truth with people who don’t know Jesus and his life-changing grace. (for the record Christians are still sinners too…sometimes less reckless…sometimes more….we all need grace)
2 YOU ARE PEOPLE OF MERCY
There is a problem in all of our talk of “loving the poor”, the problem of just talking about it. There is more to loving the poor than reading blogs, tweeting, and talking. Devotion to Jesus will lead us to a place where we actually serve, sacrifice, and show mercy to the poor and hurting among us.
3 YOU LOVE EACH OTHER
I know that sounds simple (it’s not). If there is not a genuine love and commitment to the other members of this missional community, I am not sure how effective the mission is going to be. Does your missional community pray, eat, laugh, and even cry together? Devotion to Jesus will lead us to a place where we are devoted to one another.
4 PEOPLE ARE GETTING BAPTIZED
Are people who didn’t know Jesus and his life changing grace coming to know that Jesus Christ is Lord? Are people who have spent their whole lives looking for acceptance in work, relationships, religion, success, pleasure, and money finding forgiveness and new life in the gospel of grace?
Help me: are there are other signs of missional community that I am overlooking?
Hope this helps….
Have you ever heard somebody say “hate the sin….but love the sinner!.” Me too. I don’t love it.
Now I know that in one sense it rings true: we should hate sin because it is destructive, and we should love sinners because they are people (people who God calls our neighbors and commands us to love).…
I guess what I don’t love is the tone.
You may be saying “hate the sin…love the sinner”….
But your tone tells me what you are really saying is “I am disgusted by the choices so and so makes…I wish they could see how much better their life would be if they were more like me….but I guess I am supposed to love them…I mean you never know….God may change their wicked hearts someday…and we may end up in the same Bible Study….so yes….hate the sin…but love the sinner.”
Here are three faults I find in this oh so common cliche:
1 It Creates An “Us vs Them” Mentality (Christian vs Non-Christian)
I usually hear this phrase from a Christian, talking about a non-Christian, and it seems to imply that Christians are no longer sinners. Say what?
Let’s be honest…we are all a mess…and we all have sin.
Now some of us sinners happen to be under grace (those that know Jesus), and other sinners are not (those that don’t know Jesus)…..but we are all in this “sinner” thing together.
2 Christians Don’t “Hate” Their Own Sin As Much As Their Neighbors
Again, I usually hear this this phrase coming from a Christian, talking about a non-Christian, and they are offended by the “sinners” lifestyle (which may include things like 12-14 too many beers on a Saturday night, bad sexual choices, and/or the vocabulary of a deep sea fisherman).
In hating the sin we see in the people around us, many of us miss the ways in which we sin everyday: greed, gossip, selfishness, unbelief, etc (just to name a few)
It’s all sin. It’s all destructive.
Your sin is not any prettier than your neighbors.
3 Show Me The Love!
All of us sinners need love! I do, you do, and so does your neighbor.
Show me the love!
When is the last time you really loved a sinner? Love may look like sharing a meal, starting a friendship, meeting some practical needs, and being open with the sinners in your life about how much of a sinner you are.
If you are not spending time with anybody that does not know Jesus please stop saying you love sinners.
If you do happen to know some sinners that don’t know grace…you may want to mention that you know the only one who really hates sin…and the only one who really loves sinners.
That would be loving.
1 DON’T EXPECT EVERYONE TO “GET IT”
This is where leaders get hung up a lot: they read a book (like Total Church), go to a conference (like Verge), develop a man crush on a leader (like Jeff Vanderstelt), and suddenly expect everybody in their community to “get it”.
The reality is that all of us are new at being the church this way (missional communities), and the people you are leading are either new Christians (who will shockingly…act like new Christians) or they have been Christians for a while (which means they have years of experiencing “church” a certain way).
How do you know if this is you? You spend a lot of time being frustrated with the very people you are called to love and lead.
2 DON’T JUST TEACH PEOPLE “HOW TO LIVE” AND FORGET TO TEACH THEM “WHO THEY ARE”.
There is nothing quite like a group of people “doing missional community” that have no idea that Jesus loves them. It’s a mess. It’s a new legalism that will lead to all sorts of awkwardness that actually isn’t very missional at all.
The planting of Missional Churches is attracting lots of new “converts”, including:
*Church-hopping Christians looking for a new church
*Socially-minded Christians who have grown bored of their contemporary church
*Former youth group kids who bailed on the church during their college years and wild 20’s, who are now married with kids, and looking to re-connect to their faith (or at least get their kids involved)
Hopefully our “missional” churches are seeing people who were not Christians…become Christians. (If this is not happening we may need to re-think what the mission is?)
I am currently finding this book, The Walk, very helpful as I read through it with some folks in our community who are brand new to the faith. I highly recommend it!
What resources are you using to help the new believers in your community?
So which is more important? Talking about Jesus or Loving Your Neighbor?
What we have faith in will determine which is more important.
I can hear you saying “that is easy, my faith is in Jesus.”
Which begs the question; “Jesus who?” Ambiguous Jesus?
If you have faith that Jesus is the Christ, that he alone saves, then I believe that you will be driven to talk about Jesus, to share your faith with those that do not know him. Let’s be honest, if that is what you believe to be true, to not say anything would just be mean.
On the other hand if you have faith that Jesus is Lord, that he rules and reigns and is making all things new, than you will be driven to love your neighbor, fight for human dignity, feed the hungry, and house the poor.
The problem is that many people have put their faith in an Ambiguous Jesus (who is neither Christ or Lord).
If the most succinct way to say the Gospel is “Jesus Christ is Lord”, then to follow Jesus may look a lot like a community of people who both:
talk about Jesus in a way that says he is the Christ…
and love their neighbors in a way that says he is the Lord.