Practical Steps Toward Obedience
Here are some things I'm working on in my own life to try and live more missionally:
- Eliminate the buzz words. This one is simply something that has started to bug me recently. There are brand new churches that have branded themselves as "missional" before they even start. How is that possible? Maybe if the church was started on the island in Lost. I'm going to try and eliminate the term "missional" from my vocab. It's a great word, but it's now a loaded term that could mean a thousand different things. I prefer the term "obey" and its derivatives. Maybe if we eliminated the trendy catchphrases, we wouldn't get so caught up in the trends and would instead get caught up in living the life of a disciple of Jesus.
- Develop a rhythm of "church life." I can't think of a better phrase at the present time. What I don't mean is going to church on Sundays, sitting through a service, giving some money, and going home. Those things are fine, but they barely scratch the surface of what it means to live obediently in the context of the church community. Right now, our "church" meets on Monday night. We eat together, talk about life, chase after our kids, pray, and have recently started reading through scripture in hopes of obeying it as a community and individually. I'm working on trying to stay in touch with these folks more regularly through the week and developing a rhythm of sharing life together with them as opposed to showing up for a meeting one night a week.
- Invade my workplace as a change-agent of the kingdom. This is an often-discussed but rarely lived out aspect of kingdom life. We spend most of our waking hours at work, thus it makes sense that much of obedient living should take place at work. Most of us have pigeon-holed this to "telling my co-workers about Jesus," which we never do. It's so much more than that. It's avoiding certain stereotypical workplace behaviors, like gossip and course joking. It's doing your job as if doing it for the Lord (and not to get a raise). It's living in such a way that people are both drawn to you, but also repelled by you (those opposed to the kingdom will be repelled). It's being intentional and looking for opportunities to obey and share the gospel of Jesus. It's building trust with people so that they notice the change in your life, and taking advantage of opportunities to tell people about it and the One who is changing you.
- Leading my family. Laura and I are working through what this means for our marriage. It means better communication. It means serving each other in practical and sacrificial ways instead of looking out for ourselves. For our kids, it's taking responsibility for the development of their faith. We're not perfect at it by any means, but we're working to obey Jesus.
- Intentionally engaging people who don't know Jesus. My job is, by nature, "missional." I get to help people through the greatest struggle of their lives on a daily basis. But I'm also trying to be more intentional with my interactions with others. I'm trying to develop friendships with those who don't know Jesus. I'm in the process of becoming a mentor for nonviolent/nonsexual offendors who are close to re-entering society (the kingdom implications of this could be huge). Every once in awhile, an opportunity simply pops up. We must be ready for those, but we must also live intentionally as we seek to obey Jesus by making disciples.
Although I'm no longer working in a traditionally structured church setting, I grew up in it and worked in it long enough to know that most of the programs implemented do very little to promote obedient discipleship. I also know that scrapping all the programs (which many professional Christians would like to do) is not practical to do immediately or at once. Church leaders need to address this problem intentionally, and not seek to add more programs, but to promote obedience and scrap everything (over time) that does not help people become more intentional agents of the kingdom of God.
These are just a few ways I'm trying to obey Jesus. What are you trying to do?