Vol 1:35 The Ways of the Spirit of God

Over the next three weeks I will conclude my reflections on Roxburgh’s and Boren’s Introducing the Missional Church, at least for the time being – there are still other chapters in their book. The focus of these last weeks is following the winds of the Spirit.

The authors state that “our missional journey calls us to learn habits of listening and discernment” (p. 119). They states that as Moses asked God to teach him his ways (cf. Exodus 33:13), so we too must be open to learning the ways, the habits and practices of the Spirit – to learn a new way of life made up of habits and practices that shape us as being the people of God in the world (cf. pp. 118-119).

I would add that learning the habits of listening and discernment involve our developing the discipline of listening and discerning what the Spirit of God is listening to and discerning in the places in which we find ourselves. The reason we need to develop this sensitivity to the Spirit is that we do not merely want to listen and discern what we notice, but as God’s missional people, we want to notice what God sees, what God hears, what captures the heart of God – otherwise we will engage in ministry as to what we think is best.

We are very aware that our ways are not God’s ways, and God’s ways not our ways (cf. Isaiah 55:8) at least not without our submitting ourselves to God. Yet to open ourselves to God’s ways and thoughts in our lives, we need to learn to be open to God, to be open to the Spirit of God. Likewise, if we are to develop habits of listening and discerning to what the Spirit of God is listening to and discerning, then we need to first of all be a people who open ourselves to the Spirit and to be shaped by the Spirit.

This is more than discovering our spiritual gifts or engaging in spiritual disciplines – often in our self-focused approaches, the Spirit becomes a tool for our spiritual agenda. Rather, in being open to the Spirit, we need to open ourselves to the Spirit’s agenda in us – to be shaped by the Spirit, to notice what the Spirit notices, and to engage in ministry which the Spirit leads us into.

It is not about getting the Spirit to do what we want to do; it is not about our using the Spirit. It is about yielding to the Spirit so that “the Spirit shapes the church for a missional life” (p. 120). And so we are being called “to attend to the ways the Spirit is seeking to form us as mission-shaped people in our neighborhoods and communities” (p. 120).

Being open and led by the Spirit is to be in a posture of receiving whatever the Spirit desires to pour out into our lives for the purpose of accomplishing God’s purposes – we become available to the Spirit of God to demonstrate and bring about God’s redemptive mission in the world. Being open and led by the Spirit involves surrendering our inhibitions, our barriers, our worldviews, our rationality, our fears, our strengths so that we might be yielded vessels for God to do the work of God through us – a people surrendered to God and living in the ways of God in a broken world.

As we are open to the Spirit of God in this way – we will begin to listen and discern what God is doing all around us – and because we are open to being led by the Spirit, we participate in what matters to God, and what matters to God becomes what matters to us. This is what it means to be a Spirit-led missional people of God. May we as the people of God lay ourselves open to be Spirit-open, Spirit-directed, Spirit-infused people.

iMissional.org | Roland Kuhl