On a church camp recently (not our own church, but another one), I had the chance to take part in a discussion with a group of women about what a ‘missional lifestyle’ might look like for us in our various life situations. (My husband Dave was involved in a parallel discussion with the men.)
Stimulated by that discussion and a few of the loose ends left over at the end of it, I thought I might turn my thoughts into a short series of blog posts on the subject. I’ll do my best to write in a way that isn’t fixated on the things that are particular to my own situation. Instead, as far as possible, I’ll try and think the issues through in a way that opens up the conversation to other people in different life circumstances. But if the examples along the way tend to be a bit ‘mums-y’ at times, I hope you’ll understand and forgive!!
The basic framework for the conversation at the camp went like this:
- In speaking of a ‘missional’ lifestyle, we had in mind a lifestyle in which we relate to the world as people sent out into it—as servants of Jesus.
- In speaking of a missional ‘lifestyle’, we had in focus not the proclamation of Christ that is at the very centre of mission, but the pattern of life that is wrapped around it—the lifestyle that is fitting for someone who is in the world as a missionary servant of Jesus, eager to speak the gospel and make disciples.
- Our working definition (starting in 1 Corinthians 10) went something like this: a ‘missional lifestyle’ is one in which we involve ourselves in the lives of our neighbours, seeking their good—especially their salvation (1 Cor 10:23-11:1; cf. Jer 29:4-9; 1 Pet 3:9-13; Matt 22:39), but refusing to involve ourselves in the idolatries of the world we live in and instead, giving our allegiance to Christ alone (1 Cor 10:14-22; cf. Isa 52:11; 1 Pet 3:14-15; Matt 22:37).
- The pattern and example in all this is Christ, who sought the good of others and their salvation at the cost of his own life (1 Cor 11:1; cf. Rom 15:2-3). The motivation is the glory of God and the prospect of the coming judgement (1 Cor 10:31, 22).
From there, we launched into a discussion of various facets of life (home, education, work, sport, etc.), talking about the opportunities that each presented for being involved in the lives of others for their good and their salvation, and the idolatries that have the potential to destroy us and our witness by luring our hearts away from Christ.
But before taking that next step here, I’d love to hear your thoughts on the basic framework. Are those two questions (the question about opportunities and the question about idolatries) the right ones to be asking? Are there better ways of framing them? Have I left something important out?
For the sake of this little series of blog posts, I’m going to assume that these are issues not only for individuals (and families), but also for churches, and that we have enormous opportunities and responsibilities to help and cooperate with each other in how we live out this vision. But (somewhat artificially!) I’m going to bracket out the church dimension of the question and assume that others can deal with it elsewhere!