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Going somewhere else

Why do we put six months of diligent preparation into overseas mission…

…yet approach our own cities with such casual impromptu?

Missional Millennials (part 5) ~ The Narrative of Mission

In the past three years of pastoring a college ministry (Adorn), I have been overwhelmed by God’s grace to send his Spirit and his presence upon us on a weekly basis. We started as a prayer meeting of three people that used to meet at the Mason Street campus at Brooks Institute of Photography to pray for college students. Now, it is a worship gathering of 400+ twentysomethings that meet on Friday nights in Carpinteria, coming as far North as Isla Vista, and as far south as Malibu, Thousand Oaks, and Newbury Park. Out of this group have come restored identities, passionate worshippers, overseas missionaries, builders of community, beautifiers of culture, and lovers of the King.

I’ve noticed five elements that are prevalent in these young adults who are cultivating a lifestyle of a Millennial on Mission…

  1. They are always having their identity renewed in Jesus (identity)
  2. Their new identity forms their worship of Jesus (worship)
  3. Their lives influences other lives (discipleship)
  4. They bring everything back into community (community)
  5. Their community reaches outsiders (evangelism)
Notice that this is not a systematic, point-by-point outline of steps you should take. It’s not, “Ok, first lets go evangelize at Target, then let’s go disciple some people at the coffee shop, and then let’s have an outdoor concert, and how about a bible study on Thursday, and then…”

Rather, these elements seem to happen all at once!

It’s not a system, but a story.

But wait, you say, “where is the ‘missional’ element in this series on Missional Millennials?”

All five of these elements encapsulate mission, because in order for mission to work, the messenger must be identified with Christ, a worshiper of Christ, wanting to draw others to worship Christ through every area of life, and in a community that is just as concerned with outsiders as they are for each other. It’s a culture.

It’s communities of 18-30 year old men and women that are living in this story, not only through Adorn, but across the Coast, that have captured my attention, and they seem to be making a difference, by the wonderful grace of God.

For this reason, I sometimes refer to them as Missional Millennials.

Weekly Linkage: he’s so missional right now [6.20]

A crew of missiologists recently formed an official statement to describe what the term “missional” means.

Jeff Vanderstelt asks, “What is a missional community?

Here’s the definition of missional community by Wikipedia (cause you know they’re right).

Mike Breen, one of the prominent leaders in the MC movement says in an interview, “It really isn’t a fad…it’s something we see quite clearly in Scripture”

Doug Paul lists the top 10 mistakes missional communities make here and here.

Missional community is a buzzword in the church, but not one that is either good or bad, per se—I guess it depends on what we mean by it. For example, if we wanted to love on orphans while being unstained by the world, I guess we could call it “Incarnatheologicalization in moderation” to clarify to our collegues what is our particular niche—because that’s what’s really important, you know…being particular. Then again, I suppose it helpfully narrows down our focus which is a good thing to do, because I do want to have a clearly defined goal besides just “Telling everyone about Jesus.” Of course, we could just call what we do “pure religion” like Jesus’ followers did (James 1:27), instead of incarnational-whatever-it-was, but according to my last point, “religion” has since grown archaic, and could mean anything these days—it is not a term that most of us would associate with. So it doesn’t just matter what we mean by a given term, but what others think it means. And if a term has too much baggage (like “religion”), then we need a more focused phrase or term to specify our distinct pigeonhole…hence, incarnatheologicalization. Or missional communities. Or________x. :-)

As you can see, I’m not a sucker for too many labels (yes, of course I blogged about it). Yet though I hate to admit it, I can still see some need to clarify what we do to keep the good from being lost in all the crap. My lingering question remains, is any of the crap getting lost in translation?

Do you think terminology is important?

Jesus came “Eating and Drinking”

In his book, A Meal With Jesus, Tim Chester points out the many times Jesus is pictured eating with people in Luke’s Gospel,

  1. In Luke 5 Jesus eats with tax collectors and sinners at the home of Levi.
  2. In Luke 7 Jesus is anointed at the home of Simon the Pharisee during a meal.
  3. In Luke 9 Jesus feeds the five thousand.
  4. In Luke 10 Jesus eats in the home of Martha and Mary.
  5. In Luke 11 Jesus condemns the Pharisees and teachers of the law at a meal.
  6. In Luke 14 Jesus is at a meal when he urges people to invite the poor to their meals rather than their friends.
  7. In Luke 19 Jesus invites himself to dinner with Zacchaeus.
  8. In Luke 22 we have the account of the Last Supper.
  9. In Luke 24 the risen Christ has a meal with the two disciples in Emmaus, and then later eats fish with the disciples in Jerusalem (p.10)

To top it all, Luke emphasizes that Jesus came into the world “eating and drinking” (Luke 7:34)

Considering this blatant purpose statement, it would appear that sharing meals with people was an important aspect to the Lord’s mission.

How many outsiders have you eaten with recently? Got any stories or experiences?

3 stewardship lessons from a lentil field

Without parallel, one of the most hilarious battle scenes in the Bible is found among one of David’s celebrated ‘mighty men,’ Shammah. It was difficult to read and take seriously at the same time. It’s ok—he took himself seriously enough for both of us…

And next to him was Shammah, the son of Agee the Hararite. The Philistines gathered together at Lehi, where there was a plot of ground full of lentils, and the men fled from the Philistines. But he took his stand in the midst of the plot and defended it and struck down the Philistines, and the LORD worked a great victory (2 Sam 23:11-12, NASB).

So after I got done laughing at the poor chap’s zeal over an alluring piece  of real estate…

…I realized that Shammah was so unabashedly dedicated to a cause that even seemingly insignificant spaces within his cause were not too mundane. He fought as if he were fighting for the king.

Because he WAS!

I’m reminded of this by Brandon’s prior post on difficult job situations. I’ve had my fair share of jobs, relationships, outcomes, etc., all of which made me feel like I too was babysitting a dumb lentil field. But here are 3 things I think we can take from Shammah in order to salvage wasted space…

  • God’s purpose is to renew, restore, and redeem all environments and the people in them.
  • God’s mission attributes value to your space even if it feels unremarkable
  • When God’s purpose and mission assimilate yours, you tend to find joy in even the smallest things because everything God does is wonderful

Fight for God’s lentils!!

Is “going on missions” a misnomer?

The biblical definition of mission seems to involve a mindset of “sentness” more than it does going somewhere else. Consider Raymond J. Bakke’s quote of a popular a sending text,

“How lovely on the mountains are the feet of him who brings good news, who announces peace and brings good news of happiness” (Isaiah 52:7)

Right before he opens this can…

So often we use this text to talk about going to faraway missionary jungles. Wrong. This is an urban evangelist’s text. It talks about proclaiming the good news to Zion. If the city is reached, the ends of the earth (v.10) will hear about it. (A Theology as Big as the Cityp.79)

Agree or disagree? Inner city ministry or overseas missions?

The reproductive nature of discipleship p.1

Some of you are dreamers, visionaries, planners, movers, shapers, etc. And because of these gifts, God gives you a lot to think about. But in order to undertake those things (let alone do them well and keep them sustained) we just can’t attempt to shoulder the burden by ourselves. Mission was designed by God to be done in connection to a Christ-centered community of like-minded people. Being individualistic with the calling God has given you will burn you out, rob others of serving, and put you on a pedestal that you don’t deserve and cannot handle. Look at powerhouse Moses and his conversation with Jethro…

It came about the next day that Moses sat to judge the people, and the people stood about Moses from the morning until the evening. Now when Moses’ father-in-law saw all that he was doing for the people, he said, “What is this thing that you are doing for the people? Why do you alone sit as judge…The thing that you are doing is not good. You will surely wear out, both yourself and these people who are with you, for the task is too heavy for you; you cannot do it alone. (Exodus 18:13-18, emphasis mine).

Now, I am not only talking about managerial delegation, but any real vision, dream, or idea that you have in your life. Because whether it’s in the context of a grassroots organization, fundraiser, or just a small vision for your marriage and family, you can’t be the only person who is into it if you ever want “it” to have some velocity. You need the whole community just as inspired as you are. So reproduce the ideas God has given you in other people and in such a way that you become replaceable. Wait, what? Yeah, I know the thought of being dispensable isn’t very alluring tot he power-hungry egomaniac, but in the kingdom of God, there’s only room for one Person of fame. So if you want to leave something behind, it’s gonna be you or what you do. If you’re a part of anything that’s worth your time, don’t you want that something to outlast you?

Make yourself dispensable by reproducing your idea in others.
If they are into it, the idea will outlast your life.
(More on how to reproduce a vision in a later blog post)
Any thoughts?
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