I remember my wife describing evangelism and mission when she was at university. Megan said it was something done (an activity), usually involving a survey about Christianity, with the hope of inviting people to a Christian event. She didn’t really want to be part of it, and in the years that followed she didn’t see herself as being particularly evangelistic. Now she says, “If evangelism is looking to share the love of God with people in ways that help them know the hope I have in God, well, that’s something I love to do.” A dramatic shift took place. Megan no longer understands evangelism and mission as an event but an invitation for her life to be part of God’s missional purpose.
I asked some followers of Jesus who have years of experience people understand what it means to have a missional life. Here’s what they said…
People often associate evangelism and mission with specific events. How would you help followers of Jesus understand that all of life is missional?
The best way to understand how mission (including evangelism, social justice, church planting, witness, etc.) is rooted in all of life is to see the dimension it occupies in the life of Jesus who only does what he sees the Father doing, but also who in his perfectly obedient life creates for us the archetypal model of of true human holiness. Jesus is always on mission–he is “eternally sent” (missio’ed) by the Father. And he hands this baton of sentness onto us when in commissioning his disciples he says, “As the Father sends me, so I send you” (Jn.20:21). As disciples we all are to live our lives in the manner and pattern of Jesus. Mission in all its forms are therefore an inextricable part of the fabric of calling, worship, and discipleship.
Alan Hirsch, author of numerous books on leadership and movements, a leader in the global missional movement (www.alanhirsch.org)
Jesus final commission to his disciples was that they should go. (Matthew 28:18-20) “Go and make disciples of all nations,” or more accurately, “As you are going, make disciples of all nations.” Too often, we have changed this to “come.” We invite people to come to our special meeting, even come to our house church.
• The church leader is generally the one who leads a person into a relationship with Christ (“Raise your hand if you would like to receive Jesus.”) However, all of us are called to make disciples.
• The person invited to church is the one who has to cross any cultural barrier. Most of our services are totally unlike anything else he/she would experience in life. On the other hand, if we go, we are the one who has to get out of our comfort zone.
• Usually only one person becomes a believer. He may bring a few of his friends in the early days but in general (and thank God for the exceptions) it is a small number. What we see in the Book of Acts is that apart from two instances (Paul and the Ethiopian eunuch) whole households became followers of Jesus at the same time. Think of Cornelius, or Lydia, or the Philippian jailor, all of whom became believers with their households.
If we want to see the expansion of the Kingdom we all long for, it will take all of us being on mission with God. What an adventure!
Felicity Dale helped pioneer simple church concepts while in medical school and later in the East End of London with her husband Tony. Now living in the USA, she was a catalyst in the simple church movement through speaking and training engagements and the house2house ministry. Felicity has written 5 books and can be found on-line at simplychurch.com.
Jesus’ call to his disciples was a call to join him in life and learn a new lifestyle in relationship with his Father; all of life being brought into and under the rule of a perfect loving and sovereign God. It was not an event or series of speeches or classes, it was a full lifestyle apprenticeship that Jesus engaged his disciples in. The only way we will evangelize or disciple others fully is to invite them into a relationship and lifestyle where the gospel touches and transforms every area of life.
Caesar Kalinowski is a ‘spiritual entrepreneur and mentor.’ He is passionate about equipping people to intentionally be active disciples in their family, faith, and work life in such a way that it proclaims Jesus. Caesar hosts the Lifeschool Podcast, serves as the Director of the GCM Collective and has authored 4 books.
The kingdom of God is all-encompassing. God never presents himself as just the god of the water, or god of the weather, or god of war, healing, insects etc. Always as the One True God of everything. Jesus is Lord of all. The great commandment is to love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, all your mind and strength etc. Christians are therefore meant to be single-minded, one-faced people. That itself is a huge witness into Western Culture where people are generally multi-faced: We have our professional face (while the boss/customer is watching), our private face (where to our intimates we whinge about our boss/customer), our extended-family face, and our online persona – often more than one. In such systemic schizophrenia, Christians should stand out.
But we don’t if we’re church-faced on Sundays and world-faced on the others. And churches that are good news only on certain occasions, before reverting to closed holy xenophobic huddles, are spotted as frauds (or at least unsalty-salt) a mile off. So we are always serving and always representing Christ, and when we attend to that there will, as part of that, be conversations, even organised ones, flowing naturally and necessarily out of all that.
A second way to look at it is this: Have you ever tried to woo someone, or been wooed? How does it go if you make contact with your beloved once a quarter, then ignore her for months before suddenly asking her to come away with you again? Wouldn’t it fall flat? Because if it’s switched on and off, it’s not love. And if it’s love, if it’s real wooing, then it’s persistent, it’s adaptive/responsive, and pretty much continual! Love never gives up! It needs to be patient and kind, of course. I’m not talking creepy stalking. But God is preparing a bride, Jesus is wooing the world and we can’t do it half-heartedly or be two-faced about it.
Andrew Turner is the Church Development Facilitator with the Baptist Churches of South Australia. He lives out what it means to be a sending church having replanted Osmond Baptist Church which, in turn, planted several churches. Andrew is the author of Fruitful Church and blogs at sacredagents.net.