Australia prides itself on sporting ability. And we’re pretty good at most sports. This doesn’t surprise me when I look at Australian culture. Australians love the outdoors. Our environment is perfect. We consider 15°C (59°F) cold. Subsequently, we can play sport all year round from a young age. Further, Australia is a wealthy country. We can afford equipment and training. Swimming pools are not uncommon in backyards. And we love winning. We love seeing ourselves as the underdog who beats the odds. Our environment, culture and affluence lends itself to sporting success.
I wonder what the culture of your Christian community is? That is, what shapes us as followers of Jesus as we gather together? So, what is a missional culture? It is creating the environment where people naturally develop relationships with not-yet-believers and graciously enact the Gospel. Relationships aren’t a means to an ends. Rather, as human, we are relational, and missional people join God where he is at work within their relationships.
Following The Great Commission is one of the key things that marks Jesus’ followers.
Then Jesus approached them and told them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore, as you go, disciple people in all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to obey everything that I’ve commanded you. And remember, I am with you each and every day until the end of the age.”
If this passage sets the culture tone of who we are as followers of Jesus 2 things will be evident.
1. Followers of Jesus are Missional
To follow Jesus is to join what he’s doing. His words to the disciples give us a clue – he’s at work calling people from all nations to follow him. Jesus’ words are an invitation to join him on mission.
2. Jesus’ Mission is about Discipleship
This isn’t really the topic of this post but it’s worth saying, discipleship always leads to mission, but you’ll never get mission right without discipleship. So, to have a missional culture is to have a discipleship culture and vice-versa. They go hand in hand.
How you can Create a Missional Culture
1. Stop Doing
It sounds like a paradox to say that in order to create a missional culture you need to stop because traditionally so much thinking on evangelism has centred on doing things. You will never create a missional culture if the focus is on the doing – you will only create doing culture. You and your community may be busy, and you may be doing lots of good stuff, but it will not create a missional environment.
2. Start Asking
If the first step is to stop, the second is to start. Start by asking the right questions, “God, what are you doing here? Where are you leading us as your people? How are you at work in those around us? How can we join with your mission?” These are questions we are regularly asking in our church community from both individual and communal perspectives. They shape what we do, the stories we tell, and the way we act. In other words there is a shift. We stop doing in order to create mission and start responding to God’s mission around us.
3. Develop Rhythm
Breathing is a pretty key component of life. Imagine only breathing in but never out. Or maybe only out but never in. Don’t actually try, just believe me when I say the result isn’t pretty. It isn’t what we’ve been made for. Breathing is a metaphor of life with Jesus. Picture our time with Jesus communally and individually as breathing in. We breathe in deeply of his goodness, his grace, his restoration as we come together celebrating around his word and table, and join together in song and fellowship. But God is calling us to breathe out. Just look at Psalm 67:
‘May God be gracious to us and bless us
and make his face shine on us —
so that your ways may be known on earth,
your salvation among all nations.’
God’s grace, blessing and favour is missional. We breathe in so that we can breathe out.
4. Take Action
You need to act at some point. Australia doesn’t produce sports people solely because of the conditions. There is training to be done. It is leaders who set the culture of churches. If you want to create a missional culture, you have to be living it. The stories and the images you use need tell what the culture is like. You need to be training others and helping them on the journey. And you need to help people understand the message in both the head and the heart.
A Final Word
This isn’t a magic formula. It’s not a matter of once getting all the steps right and hey-presto now you’re missional. No, to be missional is to join what Jesus is doing. In other words, mission centres on Jesus. We can promote missional living, engage with the community, or start mssional groups, but if Jesus isn’t there we’ve missed the point. It has to be all about him.