Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Overwhelmed by the need for missionality ...

Now more than ever before I feel a deep need to be missional for the sake of Jesus Christ within my neighborhood. I've never quite felt this strongly about it before. I'm not sure if it's just because of where we live -- a transitional neighborhood that still exudes many signs of poverty and physical brokenness -- or just the sheer fact that the Lord is reconditioning my heart to long for Him and for other people to receive His gospel. I hope it's both!

Just within the last few weeks, my husband and I have branched out more than ever before. We've attended a few neighborhood association meetings and we've tried to be intentional about meeting our new neighbors -- stopping by, inviting them to join us to do different things, etc. And my mind just races with ideas of what I'd love to do to get to know our neighbors better and to begin fostering community.

As a stay-at-home mom with an 18-month-old, I have struggled for a while to figure out how to be missional. My priorities, aside from the Lord, are my husband, then my son, then my church. I don't have time in my day to volunteer at a soup kitchen or an afterschool program for kids, maybe some of the more obvious choices. But when I try to identify ways to be missional, I need to remember that missionality isn't defined by just a specific demographic or need that I can help. It's a mindset and an action that is realized to take the gospel to the people in my sphere of influence in a relevant context. It's the Great Commission lived out (Matthew 28:19-20), and it will look different for every body. But the questions that we need to ask are: 1) Who are the people in our sphere of influence? 2) How can God use us to reach out to them and paint the story of the gospel in a way that's relevant to them? (When I say relevant, I mean to communicate the gospel in a way that the people that I'm communicating to will understand, NOT to just tell the part of the gospel that I think they'll be comfortable hearing OR to shape the gospel in a way so that it becomes a product of what a person's wants, not about who God really is ... kind of like a "designer God".) 3) How will God reorient my life to make missionality a lifestyle instead of just a one-time or occasional event or activity?

So, where does this leave me?
  • As a stay-at-home mom, I need to identify the people that are or could be in my sphere of influence.
  • What kind of activities or events do I or can I participate in during the week that I can do WITH my son that will help us build relationships with people who don't know Jesus?
  • How can I not only be effective for the gospel while I'm with him, but also teach him the gospel and the great commission as we interact and intentionally love our neighborhood and the people in it?
  • Are there things I can do missionally that fall in line with my responsibilities as my husband's helper and my responsibilities around my home?
  • Who are the people that my family can influence for the gospel?
  • What kind of activities or events can we host or be a part of, or places can we go to intentionally love people for the sake of the gospel?
When I ask these questions, I need to be honest with myself and my family and determine if these are commitments that we can make over time ... not just a one-time do-good event. I'm sure there's a time and a place for one-time activities, but as I'm contemplating what it means to live a missional life, I need to reorient myself to be missional on a daily basis ... make these activities/events/etc. a regular part of my schedule so that the people I meet and care for and love on, will regularly see Jesus in me and hopefully come to know His greatness! And once it begins in my own life, how wonderful will it be to invite friends and community to be a part of it with me! We see in Acts that this is what we were created for!

If you're a single woman, or you're a recently married woman without children, or a woman that works full-time, or you're retired, or whatever life stage you're in, your missional lifestyle will probably look very different than mine. But the questions you need to ask yourself are still the same: 1) Who are the people in your sphere of influence? 2) How can God use you to reach out to them and paint the story of the gospel in a way that's relevant to them? 3) How will God reorient your life to make missionality a lifestyle instead of just a one-time or occasional event or activity?

This is HUGE ladies! I think it's very easy for us to dodge this call in our lives and say we'll do it later or on the side, but we can't tell ourselves this lie any longer! We must dig in deep right now. Just like the Israelites during their exile to Babylon, God is calling us to "Build homes, and plan to stay. Plant gardens, and eat the food you produce. Marry, and have children. Then find spouses for them, and have many grandchildren. Multiply! Do not dwindle away! And work for the peace and prosperity of Babylon. Pray to the Lord for the city where you are held captive, for if Babylon has peace, so will you" (Jeremiah 29:4-7).

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