Tuesday, May 28, 2019

Our Missional Calling

For nearly four years, we, at our church, have worked with and been guided by four core values. One of these primary principles is ‘missional living’—that as people of faith we are called to live missional lives in our community. But that idea can mean a lot of things (or nothing) to a lot of people. So, to that end, we’ve created some more language to help flesh out exactly what we’re striving for.

“In a world of busyness, activity, and projects, the church must learn to foster a lifestyle of mission. We serve a God of mission who is not bound by the walls of the religious institution, so we strive to emulate this posture—moving outside the walls of our church to be on mission everywhere we go—seeking to be the good news of Jesus in our neighborhoods, city, and world.”

That’s more helpful, but perhaps still confusing and ambiguous. So, here’s an idea I stumbled upon recently that might help us understand the missional posture we’re called to embody in our world:

We’re missionaries cleverly disguised as good neighbors.

Typically, when I think of mission work and missionaries, I think of extraordinary people doing extravagant projects in exotic places. I think of Africa and Central America and Southeast Asia. I think of building projects and street evangelism and Bible translation. I think of professional missionaries who have raised support, learned a new language, and moved their families around the globe for Jesus.

But we’re all missionaries. We’re all sent by God, on mission in the places we find ourselves. We’re all tasked with being people who live and share the good news of Jesus. And on the most basic level, we do our mission work through simply being good neighbors. We can easily overcomplicate the relatively simple message of Jesus: love God, love your neighbor, and as you go, make disciples of people everywhere, helping them to understand and live out the way of Jesus.

We’re missionaries cleverly disguised as good neighbors.

We all have a mission field—the people we live with each day and the places we inhabit. We all have new languages to learn—the task of listening to and learning to speak with our neighbors. We’re all sent on mission by our great missional God—tasked with loving our neighbors, allowing them to experience and know the good news of our great God, and being a faithful presence of kindness, generosity, and blessing to those in our relational sphere.

So, let’s embrace our missional calling. Let’s welcome our God-given role as missionaries in our world. And let’s enter our world each day, ready to spread the good news of Jesus through being people of hospitality, peace, and love.

Let’s proudly take on the challenge of being missionaries cleverly disguised as good neighbors.

Thursday, May 16, 2019

A 'Lord's Prayer' Paraphrase

[I recently preached through the Lord's Prayer, line by line. Each Monday morning I wrote my own version of the line I had preached the day before. Below is the final product. It's nothing overly profound or different or shocking, just a slight variation in a way that makes sense and is meaningful for me.]

Tuesday, May 7, 2019

Remembering Rachel

This Saturday morning, the world lost a wise, bold, prophetic voice in the death of author Rachel Held Evans. She had gone to the doctor three weeks earlier for flu like symptoms, experienced an awful reaction to some medicine that resulted in unstoppable brain seizures, and eventually went to be with the Lord this past weekend. She leaves behind her husband, Dan, and two small children.

Rachel was only 37 years old, but had already become a tour de force in the Christian world. Having been raised in a deeply conservative Christian home, she was a gentle and encouraging voice for those transitioning out of fundamentalism and into a more generous and loving way of viewing the world. The number of stories that have emerged from people who had been burned by the church and were on their way out for good—but who found a voice of solidarity, in Rachel, and an encouragement to stay amidst the doubt and questions—is staggering.

Rachel was a New York Times best-selling author, managed an incredibly popular blog, and had been interviewed on The View, The Today Show, NPR, the BBC, amongst many other major media outlets. But more than anything, readers, myself included, felt like they had found a friend to walk with them through a life of faith.

Her death is a terrible loss.

But the saddest thing in all of this (aside from the fact that a husband and two little kids will never see their mom again, this side of heaven) is that Rachel was just getting started. Her most-recent books were shockingly good, so you wonder what else she had inside that brilliant mind. What truth would that next book have unlocked? What theology would have been better explained? Who would that next blog post have helped? How many more people would have chosen to stay in the church and impacted God’s kingdom?

We needed Rachel’s voice.

At only 37 years old, Rachel was poised to be one of the primary voices in Christianity for the next 20-30 years. I grieve her loss and pray blessings on her family and close friends as they deal with this terrible tragedy. May her legacy continue to live through the writing she left behind and the people she encouraged. And if you have never engaged with any of her work, please do so.