Thursday, December 4, 2008

Learning to be Missional

What do children want to be when they grow up? A doctor? A teacher? A fireman? How about a missionary? My daughter Becky once said she wanted to be a missionary when she grew up. I remember responding reflexively: “But you’re already a missionary!”

Because Becky knew Jesus, she’d already been sent out into her world to share His Good News. To this day, she can do that in a neighbourhood in Canada as much as others do so in foreign lands. And when it comes time for her to choose a profession, she can share Christ’s love as a doctor or a teacher, or as a full-time Christian worker if that’s how God leads her. In other words, if she knows Jesus, she’ll be a missionary in any place or profession she chooses.
In recent years, the word missional has been coined to redefine how we as Christians are meant to approach our lives. Though I'm convinced of the priority of taking the Gospel across cultures to unreached parts of the world, “mission fields” are no longer viewed as simply somewhere you go, but as any place a Christian may be found. No longer is “missions” viewed as something you do for a summer or a season, but as something that followers of Jesus do throughout their lives. To missional Christians, life is missions and the ground beneath their feet is the mission field.

This means that a Christian child talking about becoming a missionary when he or she grows up is like someone talking about becoming a person when they grow up. If a Christian is truly meant to be missional, every Christian is a missionary as much as every child is a person. The two are inseparable by definition.

The reason our understanding of the term “missionary” is so important is because as long as we see it as a career one chooses rather than a command one champions, we will continue to see our participation in the Great Commission as an option rather than a lifestyle; as a category of people rather than a characteristic of a Christian. And unless we see missions as an activity of the whole Church, the task of the harvest will fall on too few shoulders.

Jesus said, “As the Father has sent Me, I also send you” (John 20:21). As Christians, each one of us has already been sent, and the people we’re sent to are all around us wherever we happen to be! When God chose us to be His child, we became a vital worker in His harvest field, which begins outside our doorstep. We do not need to wait for a “call” on our lives in order to feel a part of God’s plan for reaching this world. We’re already a part of God’s missions strategy.

“The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few” (Matt. 9:37). Let’s change that as we move through the harvest fields of our world each day. Jesus told us they are ripe for spiritual harvest (John 4:35). With Bethlehem LIVE! just one week away at our church, we have a wonderful opportunity to be missional as we each do our part to make Jesus known this Christmas season!

© 2008 by Ken Peters

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