Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Problem: The Idea of Missions is Sexier than the Call to be Missional

Or “The grass sure is greener over there” syndrome.

The push in recent years to wake the (mostly American) church up to the fact that we have quit the Great Commission has been quite successful in some ways. Missional has become the biggest “buzzword” in evangelical circles. Churches are starting to look at their own backyards as mission fields. They are rethinking the way they do things from the perspective of the cultural context. They are trying to communicate to the people around them in a way that will connect and correctly convey the message that we are given to share.

However, there has also been a misunderstanding brought about in part by the way this push has been couched. The term Missional makes a lot of sense because it helps people to see that the methods used in cross-cultural evangelism are needed to reach people today. The culture that most churches are surrounded by is completely foreign to the culture within those churches. That does not mean that the traditional idea of people who are “called out” to do cross-cultural “missions” are obsolete.

The idea that churches will send, and sometimes support, sent out ones is Biblical and still needed. It is not the job of a church in rural Arkansas—to choose a random place—to fulfill the Great Commission in rural Indonesia. The world that we live in today allows us greater awareness, access, and ability to help the Gospel spread anywhere on the planet, but a Missional vision still requires people with the calling to make a new or different culture their home. For a church to decide that they will not send any individuals away permanently or long-term but instead simply handle the global expansion of the Gospel through vacation time and an internet connection is short sighted and naïve.

At the same time, acknowledging the call of God on certain individuals to leave their home for a “place I will show you” is not paying someone else to do the job to which we are all called. We are all responsible for the place God has us. All too often, though, it is easier to get excited about sharing God’s message half a world away for two weeks every year.

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