Vol 2:7 Noticing God Already Active in our Community

Being missional is all about God, participating with what God is up to in the world around us, noticing what God is noticing, seeing the people whom God loves whom God came to set free in Jesus Christ. Last week I mentioned I was at a gathering of FORGE America and though we were using the missional language I noticed that some were missing the point of what it means to be missional. I heard among some who participated the strategies with which they were going to bring into a community in order to engage people missionally in a community – but all they were doing was trading “program” language for “strategy” language.

The point is that we cannot go into an area with predetermined plans – be they programs or strategies; we must first enter into a particular place – be it a neighborhood, be it a urban community, be it suburbia – and begin listening for God, begin looking for God – where God is already active and engaging the people whom God came to in Jesus Christ. It means taking the time to be like Jesus, to be incarnational as Jesus was – and by that I mean, “pitching our tent,” being present among a people in order to discover where the Spirit is already moving. Once we hear the voice of God being expressed in cries of the marginalized, the poor, once we see God moving through unlikely groups of people and organizations, perhaps even a church or two, then we are ready to begin asking, “Lord, how do you want us to participate with you in what you are already doing?” It is only after we have engaged in such a process of discerning discovery that we can begin to develop strategies and/or initiatives.

For a while now, the community I serve has been discovering the voice of God in our community in which we find ourselves. We have heard God speaking through community organizers, through county agencies, through the gifts and passions the Spirit of God has poured out into our lives – and for our discipleship community of Christ we are hearing that engaging in food justice is one of the ways we live out the present and coming reign of God in our midst.

The congregation I serve is hearing God’s voice through various organizations expressing the need for strengthening the wellness of persons and families in our communities – churches, community organizations, people able to survive because food is available through food pantries. In this past week, I have been involved in five different gatherings or conversations where providing healthy food to those in need was the primary agenda – a group of pastors and churches sharing the need for accessible and affordable produce and other healthy alternatives in their own communities, a county commissioner convening a dialogue on how to develop urban community gardens, a forest preserve district interested in purchasing urban lots for allotment and community gardens, a conservancy willing to partner with us as a congregation as we seek to develop a church supported agriculture initiative, a local partnership of non-profits seeking to enhance the lives of those struggling to have a better life. This confluence of interest and voices is not mere coincidence – it is seeing and hearing God being active in our midst.

Indeed, God’s voice comes in many different ways, through many different people, through sacred and secular organizations – we need to be open to hear God speak through whomever and however God chooses to speak. Are we listening? Are we watching?

iMissional.org | Roland Kuhl