Archives for : Incarnational

Be Attractional and Missional

Missional Living


Many churches rely almost completely on attracting people to their churches through their worship services, programs, and their friendliness.  All of those are great things to have but is it enough?  We must become also become “Missional.” We need to be living every day as a mission trip.  Missionaries work hard at relating Christ in the best way possible to reach the people in the culture where they have been called.

This means that we are intentionally and strategically representing Christ in the community at large.  We are getting close to people who desperately need Christ so that they can see Him in us.  Attractional churches do everything they can to draw non-christians to them and their ministries.  Missional churches refuse to become inwardly focused or “sociologically cocooned.”

A good friend recently shared that he attended a recent training where they were required to decide whether their church plant would use a “Come and See” or a “Go and Tell” approach.  He raised his hand and asked why it couldn’t be both?  Exactly!  The goal is to have as many doors where people can connect as possible.  Doors are entry points where people can connect with the church.

Some examples of doors are: Worship Services, Activities, Oikos Events, Small Groups, VBS, Back Yard Bible Clubs, and YOU!!!  Yes you!

Attract away but also live on mission.  Here is a definition of  missional from Reggie McNeal, “An inherent understanding of our being the people of God partnering with him in His redemptive mission in the world.”  Notice the ingredients of being missional:

  1. Being: What you do comes out of who you are.
  2. Partnering: As the Father sent Jesus now Jesus is sending us.
  3. His: This is God’s plan and there is no plan B.
  4. Redemptive: It is all about His gospel of salvation and redemption.
  5. Mission: It is not the church that has a mission but God who has a mission and has churches and followers to carry out that mission.
  6. World: He is not willing that any should perish.

Here are some steps to being missional (partnering with Him):

  • Be Incarnational: We must focus on living, demonstrating, and offering Biblical community to a lost and dying world. We have become very good at doing church but are we being the church every single day?
  • Be Indigenous: We do not choose the culture we live in but we can choose whether we withdraw into the comfort of the church cultures we have created or thrive where He has planted us.  How can your church reach your community better?
  • Be Intentional: There is nothing wrong with being strategic in how we minister to those around us.  Are we willingly die to personal preferences so that Christ’s name may be proclaimed in the most effective way possible in our context?

In Breaking the Missional Code, Ed Stetzer says, “It is the discipline of seeing your context through missional lenses and then exercising faith by taking risks to live the Great Commandment in such a way that you can fulfill the Great Commission.”  A great need today is to figure out how to get beyond the institution into the places where people live and hang out!  A couple of thoughts here:

  • Choose engagement over retreat.
  • Build bridges don’t burn them..
  • Open up more doors for entry points.
  • Be willing to meet people where they are.
  • Engage unbelievers, don’t avoid them.

In Revolution in Leadership Reggie McNeal says, “Authentic renewal will come to the North American church when God’s people are led to accept their commission to live on mission with Him in the world.”


Short Term Mission Trips

Mission trip opportunities are all around us!  You do not have to get on a plane to serve on one.  Every day is an opportunity to live on mission.

Who is a missionary?  The answer can be very different according to who you ask.  Most would define a missionary as a person who lives in a foreign land, studies the culture, learns another language, and makes great sacrifices to reach a certain people group.  That is true but what about the rest of the church?  Should not every believer be on mission for God?  What if we lived every moment of every day as if we were on a mission trip, how would your day change?

When people take a mission trip they are ready to sacrifice and suffer discomfort to share the gospel with people they have never seen or met.  There is a very determined focus and plan to each trip whether it is medical, teaching, evangelistic, or humanitarian.  These trips are great and everyone should consider taking one because they are life changing experiences.  Shouldn’t we begin living with a missionary focus right where we are, today?

We must begin celebrating those who are living a missionary life right in front of us.  Unfortunately, the main metric we have used for spiritual growth is how many attend, how often they attend, and how much they give.  What if we began measuring how much time we all spent in community service?  What if we began to measure our goals of ministry in terms of what the body of Christ does outside the walls of the church and not only inside?

What if we lived every day as if we were on a short-term mission trip?

Churches have historically celebrated the dedication of the men and women who have been sent to the mission field (i.e. Barnabas and Saul Acts 13:1-3).  They have become “heroes of the faith” because of their willingness to study a culture and prayerfully discern the best way to reach them with the gospel.  What about your neighborhood, your community, and your city?  We need to also begin celebrating those who are using their “Life Assignment” as a “Missionary Post” to share the love of Jesus Christ.

Three words need to be considered if we are going to transform our culture and accept our missionary assignments.

  1. Intentionality. We must be focused on reaching out to those we come into contact with daily at the “missionary post” God has placed us.  That can be at the hair salon, the grocery store, the factory, the senior citizen center, our school, or wherever God has purposely placed us.  We must daily remind ourselves that we are on a “long-term” mission trip called life.
  2. Integration.  The good news is that we are not on this trip alone.  The Holy Spirit will guide and direct us to individuals that we need to minister to and serve.  The other good news is that we are not on this trip alone because there are other followers of Jesus who have purposed to live a missionary life also.  It would be great to sit down with others and discuss potential ways to work together and help one another to increase the effectiveness of our intentionality.
  3. Incarnational.  This is living our lives so that others can see Christ in us.  Our neighborhoods, apartment complexes, condominiums, and trailer parks need us to dedicate ourselves to being resident missionaries.  Here is the question of the day.  Is Jesus Christ visible or invisible in you?  Many groups who have gone to a foreign mission field on a trip have prayed that the people they come into contact with will see Jesus in them.  Is that our daily prayer as we accept the assignment that God has given for us to live our lives on mission for Him?

Matthew 5:16 says, “Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.”

Living as missionaries in our zip code!!!

What if we lived every day as if we were on a short-term mission trip?  


What Happens When?

Be a Blessing

I am writing this while flying back from Philadelphia after having the privilege of teaching The Multiplication Workshop at First Baptist Church in Blackwood, New Jersey.  David McMurray has been the pastor since 1975 following his father, Silas McMurray, who planted the church in 1968.  First Baptist is a very diverse congregation having almost a 50/50 ratio of Caucasian/African American. 

Also attending was the Living Word Fellowship, an African American church in Glendora, NJ. It is wonderful seeing two churches working so closely together.  Their pastor, Dr. King, preached an awesome message on Sunday morning.  When I opened the Sunday bulletin I was thrilled to see an article Bro. David had inserted.  It was exactly why we were there and what we were challenging the church to implement into their lives.

“Most people have heard something about Jesus and, truth be told, whatever they’ve heard or seen has give them ammunition to form an unpleasant understanding of Him. Their perception or limited understanding of Christ is distorted or blemished. We all agree that Christianity—and subsequently, Jesus—has an image problem.  So how will outreach and evangelism impact and influence this cultural context over the next ten years?  Numerous answers and possibilities exist, but here, I offer a truly essential one: real human relationships.

Why do they matter?  Relationships matter because they help debunk and break down fears, stereotypes, caricatures, myths, pain, and anger.  The answers that will speak to and deeply engage the dis-churched, overchurched, and never-gonna-step-into church kind of people aren’t buildings, more conferences, more theology or even more doctrine.  While these all have important value and purpose, something is so simple and profound about the power of human relationships. 

The story of God, leading up to the time of Jesus, became very confusing and inaccessible to everyday people.  The message was blemished by sin, deceit, legalism, abusive power, and false teaching.  What changed?  The story of God became truly accessible through the power and mystery of the incarnation.  One of the most profound and irrational scriptures is recorded in John 1:14: “The Word became flesh and blood, and moved into the neighborhood.” (The Message).

What’s next?  The future of outreach and evangelism will take many shapes, forms, and turns. This is inevitable because change is constantly taking place and at a pace more rapid than at any point in history.  As our churches continue to weave through this inevitable path of change, we need to remember what we can be accomplished through the power of real relationships.

  • What happens when our churches move out from their buildings to engage the community?
  • What happens when we embrace our neighbors as part of our great calling?
  • What happens when we share time with our neighbors and learn their stories?
  • What happens when we drop our routines and deadlines and focus on relationships for the sake of the mission?
  • What happens when we start eating with sinners, once again, like Jesus?

What happens?  That’s what we need to find out again in a fresh way.  Remember, God calls us not to be a light to the light, but a light to the world.  Let’s enjoy our churches and Christian communities, but let’s not forget to move into the neighborhoods and, in doing so, point people to Jesus by the way we live our imperfect lives by God’s grace.”

What happens indeed?  We cannot afford to wait any longer; every believer must begin now to be a missionary in their zip code.  God has placed people in your circle of influence so that you might point them to Jesus.  A great way to build real relationships is to:  First, ask them questions about their lives and listen to their story.  When you are willing to listen to someone you are telling them that you value them.  Second, tell them your story.  If you are born again you have a testimony you can share about what God has done in your life.  There is no stronger witness than a transformed life that loves people like Jesus loves them.  Third, when the opportunity opens, and it will, share His story.  It has been said, “Share the gospel and use words if necessary.”  At some point and at some time it will become necessary!