BJ's sermon at the Open Door's worship gathering was right on last night. He described Paul's "theological reorientation toward a missional lifestyle" that occurred on the road to Damascus. Of all people in scripture Paul experienced the greatest change in his theological perspective. He went from being a fundamentalist Pharisaic Jew to the greatest of all Christian missionaries.
Today I want to write about what a missional lifestyle might look like in my context. First of all, our mission is born out of our theology. That’s why it is so important that we think theologically about everything we do. That's what I wrote about yesterday.
Being a “missionary” in your context is a lifestyle. When I became a Christian I was 13 years old and in junior high school. I felt a wonderful change occur within me as I experienced Jesus more fully than I ever had before. But somehow I developed thinking that I should get all new friends, listen to only Christian music and probably go to a Christian high school. Luckily my parents didn’t let me go to a Christian high school! The church in North America encourages this kind of thinking for new Christians. When one becomes a Christian the church encourage them to get more involved, be on committees, teams and task forces that fill up all of our free time. Musicians quit playing music in bars to play in church. Teachers find jobs in Christians schools, softball players join the church softball team, aerobics instructors start “Christian” aerobics classes and our radios all get tuned to the Christian radio station. And most importantly we have to go to worship, small group, accountability group, prayer team meetings, planning meetings, etc, etc, etc…! There is no time for being missional!
This theological reorientation must occur in the church at large if we expect Christians to be missional or else all we will be doing in frustrating people by telling them to live scattered, schizophrenic, overly busy lives.
At the Open Door we’re trying rethink what the church should look like. First of all we try to value both the church gathered in worship and the church scattered in mission. The Open Door has encouraged me and my wife to continue our band This Side of Eve, which plays in clubs and bars and not in churches. Playing music is something I love, something I could do only in church and once did only do in church. But years ago I felt called to just write music that we could play anywhere. Let me set one thing straight, we don’t play music for the sake of evangelizing people, far from it. We play music because that’s what we love to do. Being missional, for me, does not mean that we start going into bars and clubs with the intention of shoving the gospel down people’s throats. Being missional, for me, simply means doing what I love to do and intentionally building friendships and relationships as I do it, believing that God will work through those relationships. Sure there is a time for talking and sharing what faith is all about, but that comes slowly and in God’s time.
Living a missional lifestyle means being in relationship with people and believing that God will work through those relationships, bottom line. The busyness factor is important. The church, The Open Door, needs to free people up and allow them to be out in our communities with people. We need to free people’s schedules so they have time to throw block parties, dinner parties, relax with friends after work at the Sharp Edge, and go to hear local artists at Club Café. We need to create space for people to just do the things they love to do, with the expectation that God will work through the relationships they build.
Our theological reorientation pushes us from the church gathered in worship to the church scattered in mission. It pushes us to believe that God will work through our everyday lives and through the things we love to do. It pushes us to believe that every relationship we make creates the potential for Jesus to and make himself known.