Summary: What is the missional church? How does a church transition to being missional? What do missional Christians look like and act like?
Last week we started a new series called an elemental church. We looked at God’s dream for a church and talked a little about the dreams that we have for our community.
In the past few years, the word missional has picked up some steam and become somewhat of a buzz word among pastors and authors. It is now in the titles of books and articles, whole conferences are devoted to it, and there are a ton of blogs dedicated to this idea. Many people feel that this is just the latest fad, something new that will last only a few years, so we can ignore it and continue business as usual. I don’t think that is the case, as we will see today, the idea of being missional has been around for thousands of years.
If you have your bibles, you can open them to the book of Genesis chapter 12. I always put the passage I am using up on the screen, but I would encourage you to bring your bible, so you can follow along and put some notes in your bible or underline something you want to remember.
Let’s read together what it says in Genesis 12, starting in verse 1: Now the LORD said to Abram, "Go from your country and your kindred and your father’s house to the land that I will show you. And I will make of you a great nation, and I will bless you and make your name great, so that you will be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you, and him who dishonors you I will curse, and in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed."
A lot of times we look at the story of Abraham, and think, it makes sense that he picked up, followed God and moved. After all, his story is only 2 chapters after the story of Noah and the flood. The problem with that though, is that these two stories while only separated by 2 chapters, they are separated by over 1000 years. The Jewish nation did not exist, we aren’t told whether Abraham even knew about God. Assume for a moment that he didn’t know about God, and he just picks up. So many questions come from that: why would he pick up and move? Had he heard about God? Was it common for people to pick up and move when they hear a voice?
That is one thing about being missional, when God calls we pick up. Even when that option makes the least sense. Remember what we said last week, followers of Jesus look at things differently than others. We look at our possessions, the life we live, the life we have “built” differently.
A lot of times as Christians we focus on the fact that God called Abraham out, set him apart from other nations. As a special privilege. And we look at the verse that says, I will curse those who curse you and bless those who bless you, almost as a right. Which sadly, some Christians have taken as their badge of honor, God will curse you if you curse us. But look at the last line, “in you all families of the earth shall be blessed.” Some translations say, “through you.”
In the old testament, the central act of God is what is called the Exodus, the freeing of the nation of Israel from slavery to the nation of Egypt. All the stories in the Old Testament point back to this story.
You can turn over to Exodus 19. God has led the people of Israel out of Egypt and Moses is told to go up to the top of Mt. Sinai. Here is a picture of Mt. Sinai, so you can get an idea of what it looked like. So Moses goes up the mountain, here is what it says in Exodus 19, verse 3: while Moses went up to God. The LORD called to him out of the mountain, saying, "Thus you shall say to the house of Jacob, and tell the people of Israel: You yourselves have seen what I did to the Egyptians, and how I bore you on eagles’ wings and brought you to myself. Now therefore, if you will indeed obey my voice and keep my covenant, you shall be my treasured possession among all peoples, for all the earth is mine; and you shall be to me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation. These are the words that you shall speak to the people of Israel."
God is saying, there is something different about you as a nation. I brought you out of Egypt for a reason. So often as Christians, we focus on the fact that God saves people, or in this case, a nation. He does that, but not so we can sit on our hands, or so that we can say, “I am so glad God saved me, let’s wait til he comes back.” There are a lot of books that almost proclaim this idea, that the world is getting worse, so we need to hold tight and just wait for Jesus to come back and rescue us. I don’ think that is God’s plan for his creation.