by Byron Pellecer, Associate Conference Minister (Texas-Based)
To lay a clear foundation for Missional Church, is to affirm that the Father sent Jesus, the Son sent the Holy Spirit and this Triune God has sent the Church.
Brisco in Missional Essentials asserts that “Isolation is a word that describes the kind of lives many people are living today.” It seems to be that our society does not enjoy spending time with one another. Somehow, we have managed to become socially impaired by choice and sometimes we tend to forget that God has created us to be social beings, to stay in and build relationships!
The challenge is to abandon isolation and to rediscover public places in which social life happens. What I mean is this: We should risk our private comfort zone by engaging in normal conversations with “real people.” It seems like we, individually and sometimes collectively, want to be protected from our neighbors. We should engage and build social life beyond the walls of churches and houses with other people whether they are similar or different from us.
While reading the book When God Speaks Through You by Craig A. Satterlee, I noticed in the foreword that John D. Witvliet asserts that “As living organisms, congregations are by definition in a constant change. Whether the changes are in membership, pastoral leadership, lay leadership, the needs of the community, or the broader culture, a crucial mark of healthy congregations is their ability to deal creatively and positively with change.”
As God’s sent people, we need to be attentive to our surroundings to see God at work and to faithfully hear what God is saying, not only to us, but to our neighbors. We are also confronted to hang out in the places where Jesus hangs out!
My point is this: Even if we refuse to hang out in places where Jesus hangs out, he will create opportunities for that to happen! God has been at work in our rural and urban settings long before us and he has kindly invited us to be part of His mission. Because God is in mission, the church has a missional work to do.
The biblical text of Luke 10:1-12 conveys a message of commissioning and sending. Jesus sent his disciples forth and gave them power to preach, heal and cast out demons. They were to go as they were, without a change of clothing or a second pair of shoes. Nor were they to take money or food; rather they had to trust God to care for them. In this way, they will learn that God takes care of his emissaries and supplies their needs.
In today’s language, this equals to something like this: Church, go and hang out with people in ordinary places, places where community life happens and be God’s witness there!
The church needs to go to people’s houses and in turn these households will come to church. We need to go where the kingdom is already at hand.
On the other hand, the sending of the seventy disciples indicates the growing numbers of those who followed Jesus. In other words, it indicates the presence and practice of missional approach. The Missional Church approach understands that we are sent people, we all are missionaries, we as church and as individuals are to join God’s mission in our local neighborhoods.
This is the type of message that Luke wants to convey in chapter 10. Jesus’ instruction is to go everywhere: like our community, local schools, colleges, neighborhood, market places, laundromats and so on. The idea is to see and hear what God is already doing and join!
As we see and hear what the Spirit is doing, we will discover opportunities to join God’s mission.
It is amid daily life and simple conversations that we will discover that Jesus is already hanging out with our neighbors, coworkers, friends and family.