Vol 1:24 Developing a Missional Awareness

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

Being missional is all about reimagining life in relation to the ongoing presence and activity of God in the world. Many of us who are in the church manage to talk about life experiences in ways which may cause listeners to wonder to what extent God is integrated within our lives. It is not that we have to use theological language, but it does mean we need to be theological aware that God is active all around us – and so how we view life must somehow engage language which gives expression to our awareness of God being active in mission and our participating with God.

In the opening section of chapter 4, Alan and Scott reflect upon what several church leaders were experiencing in experimenting missionally: “. . . they were telling stories of engaging people in their neighborhoods. They talked about listening to the ways God was already at work in their communities. They shared about inviting neighbors over for meals and talking together about life with new friends around them. They had discovered that missional wasn’t about a new program or project inside the church but entering their community to sit alongside others and engage in gospel conversations. It was changing the ways they were being the church” (p. 65).

I share this quotation in part to ask how much of our lives and experiences are shaped by seeing what God sees, or seeing and hearing where God is acting and speaking. This is an awareness that we develop, an awareness in which we depend upon the Spirit of God to develop within us – otherwise we will probably go through life living, looking, and experiencing largely with our own eyes and ears.

The joy of being part of what God is up to in the world, is not only about hearing and responding to God’s call; it’s also about being transformed by the Spirit of God to our seeing where Jesus is in the world and our being like Jesus in the world. Spirituality today is often about us and our experiences, but our participating with God is not so much about us as it is our being in partnership with God in bringing about what God is doing in the world to make all things and all people new.

I am reminded of Mother Teresa’s advice to the novice sisters who came to Calcutta to minister alongside her. She said that if they were there only to help people they would not last long – rather what makes the difference is seeing Jesus in people. It is about seeing Jesus who is suffering, Jesus who is living in the gutter – and seeing Jesus is what kept Mother Teresa doing what she did – because she was more than caring for people, she was caring for Jesus.

As we develop awareness – an inner language – of seeing what God sees, of seeing God active in the world, we too will begin seeing our lives, our circumstances and experiences, seeing people all around us as Jesus living in our midst. Seeing Jesus engaging the lives of people all around us can only change the whole way we live because we become like Jesus in ministering to all those to whom the Spirit leads us.

Do we dare live in light of seeing what God sees?

iMissional.org | Roland Kuhl