Thursday, June 20, 2013

Those Who Can’t, Pretend (Missional Myths 3)

There seem to be three (at least) Missional Myths that people are embracing to one degree or another these days. They are all born out of solid ideas, but taken to extremes they are detrimental. And the more people buy into these myths the worse it is for their impact on the mission.

OK, so this third entry is not so much another myth as it is a subset of the second one. And it is less myth and more malpractice. If some people embrace the idea that mission requires platform out of a thirst for all that “undercover” evokes, others do so out of the plethora of opportunities it provides.

Missional efforts, especially in post-Christian contexts, can be daunting. Before one even begins to explore how such efforts are carried out, one has to wrestle with the question: How does one begin? Unlike the traditional idea of Christian mission where at least social assistance and cultural betterment was an available fallback where Gospel receptivity was less than desired, in the hardest fields today where the message is misunderstood before it is delivered there is nothing else to be offered. They don’t want God. They don’t need Him either. At least that is how it feels.

So what is to be done when mission is misunderstood? When it seems to get in the way of itself?

Even when we know that our message will never be popular—that it will be rejected by most—we feel like we have to make it palatable. Or, to make ourselves more palatable. And that is the way it starts. We feel like we have to make excuses for ourselves. “Why am I here? You wouldn’t understand why I’ve left home and country to come all this way to meet you. So, I will give you a fake reason and break the truth to you later. When you’re ready.” We abandon our purpose because we think acceptance is the first step. Who can they hear unless they first listen? But acceptance at the cost of the message is worthless.

However, that is just the first step. Then comes the realization: “I can be anything I want! As long as I am pretending, I might as well do something I always wished I could.” Yes there is a place for real professionals in the mission. But those who have been set apart to devote themselves to it with all their time really ought to.

Yes, there are endless valid reasons platform is needed or simply useful. However, when platform is merely a way you get to live your vocational dreams without actually living off them, you might need to reevaluate.

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