“We taught Christians to see themselves as the church in our city, instead of seeing church as only an event they attend on Sunday. They learned how to see all of life as sacred and every action as part of God’s missionary work in the world. They began to see that he was in them, working through them in the normal stuff of life.”
From A Consuming People to A Missional People?
In our journey of learning how to be missionaries to our own city… I want to take a step back today before I share with you the next series of videos to watch.
As a kid who grew up in church, I remember attending church gatherings where an entire service was dedicated to the sending of missionaries into places like Africa, Southeast Asia, Papua New Guinea, and other 3rd world nations. I remember we would dedicate an entire hour or two every once in a while on a Sunday morning or Sunday evening to dedicate, listen to, commission, pray over, and send families to those places where they could “bring the Gospel” to a people who had not yet heard.
No doubt, there has been much value in sending American Christian missionaries into places where the church doesn’t exist. There is still a need for this type of sending, no doubt. We should not stop doing so.
However, as I’ve gotten older, I’ve begun to realize that America is just as much, if not, more of a mission field than ever. I won’t bore you with statistics, but the reality is that even in cities where there is a church on every corner… people still do not know much about who Jesus is, what His good news is, and how He plans to change people’s lives. We build churches, start weekend worship services, and create structures and programs that the people in our communities, quite frankly aren’t asking for. We move into a city with our own agenda of how we think we can reach the city without ever taking time to listen to the city we have been sent to.
Our cities are less and less in tune with the Christian gospel, although they are more and more interested in spiritual things. So with all this in mind… what do we do?
What does this mean for the Church?
Your orientation is the way in which you engage the world around you. Much has been said about sexual orientation over the past decade. This is, of course, when a person choose to engage the world around them from the standpoint of their own sexual activities/proclivities. I’m not going to get into all the ins and outs of that conversation. I just want to illustrate that orientation is about what you choose to center your life around. For many people, they are family oriented. Some are work oriented. Some are oriented around leisure. Some church. Even orienting your spiritual life around the weekend event at church is a way of going about the Christian life.
None of these things, in an of themselves is bad. In fact, many of these things are just a natural part of how we live our everyday lives.
What I want to challenge you with is this idea.
What would it look like for you if your life were oriented solely and completely around Jesus as the central object of all of your affections and activities?
Here’s what would happen.
You would want to get to know everything you could about Jesus, and so you would read and re-read the gospel stories. You would delve into Scriptures so that you could not only listen to his words, but actually watch the way He lived.
And when you watch the way Jesus lives, you will see that there is one central way of going about his life that cannot be denied.
Jesus lived sent.
Look at these words of Jesus in the Scriptures.
I am sending you out like sheep among wolves. Therefore be shrewd as snakes and as innocent as doves.
The Jesus said to the woman,” I was sent only to help God’s lost sheep-the people of Israel.” Matthew 15:24
“For God so loved the world that He sent His one and only Son, that whoever believes in him would not perish, but have eternal life.” John 3:16
What word continues to stick out?
Do you see it?
And then, at the end of his time on earth, before he leaves, Jesus commissions us with these words…
“As the Father has sent me, so I send you.” John 20:21
With this idea, I want to introduce you to Jeff Vanderstelt. Jeff wrote a book called Saturate which outlines, what I believe to be a great way for disciples of Jesus to begin to think about how to live as missionaries to our own city.
Take a few minutes to watch these videos over the next week. I encourage you to take your time, watch, listen, and then consider how God might be challenging you to live sent into your city. If we do this. If we begin to live as sent or “missional” people… we may just be able to recapture the pioneering spirit and impassioned movement of Jesus that somehow has been lost in our religious institutions along the way.
Assignment # 3: Watch Jeff Vanderstelt’s videos regarding everyday discipleship.