Being missional is more than doing something different. Sometimes I just don’t feel like doing another missional thing.
Being missional ought to affect not only how we go about engaging in ministry, engaging in participating with God in God’s bringing about shalom, but also how we are with God with whom we participate in making all things new. Too often, however, I have discovered that we have traded a frenetic pace in doing ministry in non-missional ways to doing missional things in a similar frenetic pace. Is that being missional?
Missional is an attitude before it is an action.
Sometimes, we do become weary in doing good – no matter how much Paul encourages not to lose heart (cf. Galatians 6:9). A colleague of mine at a pastor’s gathering in response to the question of “what good thing is going on in your church?” responded with “Nothing much good is going on.” Sometimes we find ourselves in the desert, like Moses, with the people of God griping for 40 years – it is hard at times to see and to express something that is “good.”
It is in the midst of such times that we need to step back from all the doing of missional to rediscover what it is to be missional. Missional is more than a set of agenda that we bring to our frenetic engagement of ministry – I don’t think I have ever read in the Gospels Jesus expressing, “so much to do and so little time” running around like the White Rabbit in Alice in Wonderland. Rather, there was a certain non-anxiousness about Jesus’ manner of ministry, his manner of engaging, his manner of embodying the reign of God, in his being missional.
His doing of missional was the fruitful action of his being missional.
I am observing among a number of my colleagues who are challenging the North American church to embrace being missional, that their pace of life and ministry has not changed much from the days when they strived to be the right kind of leader in leading their church to grow. The focus may have changed, their strategy may have changed, but they are still getting tired and discouraged as ever.
When I find myself living in these “old tapes” of ministry, I am reminded that being missional is a journey, a process that requires ongoing repentance, ongoing metanoia – because we quickly fall into the mindset that it is up to us to bring about the changes, the transformations that we espouse that we believe God is doing in the world. We forget, in such times, that God calls us to walk with him. We are not called to walk ahead of God. It is only when we walk with God that we can listen and be open to the Spirit’s engagement of us – open to receive refreshment and renewing of our lives. And rather than these times being far and few between – coming in the nick of time before burnout takes hold of us – these times are to be the regular rhythm of our lives.
Because if they are not the regular rhythms of our lives – we will be about our missions, rather than God’s mission in the world. We may do what looks like mission – yet we will be far from being missional. We may say the right missional words and even do the edgy missional thing, but our lives will reveal that we are about our own mission, our own agenda, our own purposes.
So, it is in such frenetic times, times of walking on the hard trodden path where the seed of God’s word does not have much of a chance of growing, that I am reminded to set aside my doing of missional in order to rediscover being missional – because walking in the plowed up soil where God’s seed germinates and bears fruit slows us down enough to notice God again and what God is about in the world.