Vol 1:23 Stepping Out into the Neighborhood

These are continuing reflections on Roxburgh and Boren’s excellent fresh reintroduction of missional church in Introducing the Missional Church (Baker, 2009).

Over the past number of weeks my reflections were on mystery, memory, and mission. Today, I move on reflection on the next chapter of Does Missional Fit? Being missional is being about having our imagination being inspired by the Spirit of God – to have new eyes, ears, and hearts to notice what God notices, and to catch glimpse of what God is already doing all around us in the neighborhoods in which we live.

Alan and Scott express that: “A new imagination is being formed within [missional] people. They realize that simply calling something missional is not the point. They know that it is much more than church planting or some form of house church. They have opened themselves up and ventured out on an experimental journey into their neighborhoods to see what God is up to in this world” (p. 53).

I have experienced the adventure of discovering what God is up to in my neighborhood by walking around my neighborhood, by connecting with my neighbors, by hanging out in what Ray Oldenburg calls third places (places where people in the community hang out and connect). Discovering what God is up to in our neighborhoods is about our becoming neighbors to our neighbors, taking a real interest in them as people – not as “targets” we are attempting to get into our churches. By having a conversation over coffee in a local coffee shop, talking about what we are reading or what’s going on in our lives, by talking with a neighbor over the fence or in the grocery store, by walking my neighborhood with my dog Dakota, praying for my neighbors, stopping to say hi and see how they are doing – is all part of being open, having ears and eyes and hearts open to what God is up to in their lives. And as we begin to discern what God is doing in them, we begin to discover how God might want to use us to be a part of what God is doing in their lives.

This kind of approach does not seem all that driven – at times it seems downright slow, but by all means it is intentional in having ears and eyes that seek to hear and see what God is up to. Being missional is being aware that God’s Spirit is already at work – Spirit work to which we add our prayers, Spirit work to which we add our lives, Spirit work to which we add our voices.

One of the greatest things I am discovering in being missional in this way is that the Spirit fills me, a guy who is basically shy and somewhat reserved (some conclude that this is due to my Canadian heritage), with courage to be open to notice what God is up to in my neighbors’ lives – and with this courage, I begin to speak not just about me and them, but what God is up to in their lives, their situations – and what is amazing is that I am not the first voice, but add my voice to what the Spirit is already speaking in them. What is amazing is that I do not have to “make” an openness to God happen – the Spirit of God has already gone ahead of me to open lives to the working of God in them – I become one who gets to participate with what God is already doing by being the hands and feet of the Spirit, by “incarnating,” if you will, the presence of the Spirit.

Why would I want to minister in any other way?

iMissional.org | Roland Kuhl