1.1 [Exploration] What is Missional?

"Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age" (Matthew 28:19-20)

"Those who had been scattered preached the word wherever they went" (Acts 8:4)

What does it mean to be missional? It means to be sent. As believers in Christ, we have the greatest of all gifts - the gospel, or the good news about Jesus Christ. This gospel has made an impact on our lives both now and in eternity. And like any gift, it doesn't make sense to keep it to ourselves. We are sent by God to spread the good news. Some Christians are called to devote all of their time to preaching the Gospel. This is why we have pastors. Article V of the Augsburg Confession states, "To obtain such faith God instituted the office of preaching, giving the gospel and the sacraments." But the privilege of being sent does not extend just to pastors, but especially to every member of the body of Christ. Where does this happen? Does it happen on a mission trip? Going to a soup kitchen? Having an "outreach event?" Maybe... But what about the other days and hours of the week? What does it mean to be sent by God on an intentional mission while raising kids and trying to make ends meet? While working two jobs? During leisure time spent with friends? I'm convinved that our mission consists in being the love of Christ where we're at. As we start this 8 week study, consider where God has placed you. Who are the people he has place you around? Your children? Relatives? Coworkers, friends, neighbors, or even strangers, like the cashier at Publix or the waitress at European Street? Where ever you are at now - that is the place God has sent you. Our goal here is to learn how to live intentional lives centered around the gospel of Jesus Christ - not complacent lives slightly moved by his word. As we begin, we ponder the following question: What are some hindrances or challenges to being faithful to our call to be sent? I have to admit that my biggest challenge is my own apathy and love for my comfort zone. I think there's a part of us that always wants to settle for second best in the way we live our lives. What do you think?

Prayer: Lord Jesus, thank you for being sent for me. Open my eyes to see where you are sending me. You know what holds me back. Remind me again that you are all the strength I could ever need. Amen.


  1. When I read today's reflection, I instantly began thinking about my job. For the past several weeks, I have been in training with about 15 other child welfare social workers who are preparing to go out into the field. Very few are new to child welfare and we all know what we are getting ourselves into: daily seeing children who are victims of abuse or neglect, struggling to engage parents who just can't seem to make their children a priority, working long, hard hours for little pay, while also having to constantly deal with the hurdles put in place by "the system" to even get our jobs done. This is a reality that we are all aware of, but it seems like our group gets into a discussion almost everyday about all of the problems and difficulties of our jobs. One small comment can easy spark a 30 minute rant session about everything that is wrong or difficult about our jobs. One member of our group, however, has a way of bringing us all back to earth. With impeccable timing, he will say, "It's a calling." With three simple words, we all of a sudden remember why we do what we do. Somewhere within us, we have a passion to help build strong families and we believe that it is possible to make a difference in our clients' lives and maybe even have an impact great enough that a child can share a strong and loving bond with their parent, can be properly cared for, and know a childhood that does not include violence or fear. This child can then properly parent the next generation and maybe that cycle of abuse can be broken and our society will be a little better off. One success case can renew the hope that we can make an actual difference in the lives of the people we work with, despite the challenges. It's a calling.

    I believe missions can be viewed the same way. If everyone knew God's love, it would be so easy to share our faith, there almost wouldn't even be a need for mission. The reality is, however, sharing the Good News is not always easy and each of us face our own challenges when it comes to sharing the wonderful message of God's love. I am not a very bold individual and often have difficulty bringing up a topic that could possibly be seen as "controversial." In my experiences, bringing up God has a way of dividing people and causing tension. I don't like that. I now realize that I have been jaded by a handful of "unsuccessful cases" (to use some social work terminology). Just because someone didn't drop to their knees and start praying when I spoke to them about God, that does not mean that a seed wasn't planted or that the next person won't take to heart the message of God's love. By recognizing my challenges, I can anticipate them and ask God to help me to overcome them. God has called us to make disciples. He never said it would be easy, but our Loving Father will certainly not set us up for failure. The prayer posted today certainly says it all: The Lord knows what holds us back and He is the one who gives all of the tools we need to carry out the very thing He calls us to do. Being missional is not always easy, but what an honor it is to share the Good News with others. It's a calling.

  2. I once had a pastor ask me, "If you knew that everyone you preach to would eventually reject your message, would you still preach?" That's a tough question... since as human beings, and especially as Americans, we want to see results. In fact, we may even wonder if our work is worth our while. This is true both socially and spiritually. God has called us to have social concern - in fact, I don't think you can read the Gospels without hearing the Lord's call to improve society. For some of us, this is our job. For all of us, this is a daily task. After working with a few homeless people that have dropped by the church for help, I've been faced with how hopeless the situation is. People's lives (or families) get so messed up by sin that it seems like every effort goes into a black hole. The same goes with Christian ministry. After putting so much love and care into someone's spiritual well-being, they often walk away. There's no easy answer here... except I do know, like you said, that we are called to be faithful, and faithfulness and success don't always look the same. Jesus said to his disciples, "No servant is above his master - if they persecuted me, they will persecute you. If they obeyed my teaching, they will obey yours also" (John 15:20). If you get a chance, check out the parable of the sower in Mark 4, which sheds a lot of light on all this.
    Last, I think this is where community comes in. This is why we do the work of the gospel together. Just as you have people who remind you, "It's a calling," we also are here to remind each other of the calling we have as disciples, and to share in the struggles that go along with that.

  3. Steph, your job is definitely a calling! You have to depend on God every day to guide you through all the mess of sin you'll be stepping into!

    When I was filling out the questions, I realized the biggest obstacle I have with sharing the faith is when my own faith relationship with God is weak. How can I share Christ to people who would rather step on a rusty nail than listen to the Word of God, when my own faith is shaky? It's kind of like that cell phone analogy; I'm running on low battery and if I try to make a call or surf the internet, I power off.

    My challenge is recharging my battery. That's what I hope to figure out at some point during this study.

  4. My biggest challenge is getting out of my comfort zone, as well as my own apathy. I feel like I'm excited about my calling for a few days, but then stress and other priorities get in the way. On a more positive note, I know that the more I understand who I am because of Christ (and not myself), the more I want to tell others. I haven't quite figured out though how my personality ties in with all this... a lot of people who are big on sharing their faith are usually pretty outgoing, but what about the rest of us who aren't? By the way,can being too outgoing be a bad thing? I'm not sure people really like to be evangelized....