By Kathy Johnston
Being missional at church almost seems like an oxymoron. How are we “sent out” at church if the church is the one that is to be “sent out”?
As I pondered that thought and read the blogs over the last few weeks, it has just reaffirmed the whole idea of what it means to be on mission…to be “sent out”. It’s a day to day, moment by moment surrender to God’s purpose, no matter where we are at any moment. It’s a dying to the “selfism” mentality of our culture.
If we are being completely honest, I think most of us live the majority of our lives focused on ourselves, our families, and our friends. This cultural mindset of selfism (concentration on one’s own interests; self-centeredness or self-absorption.) is extremely deceptive and a hard one to break.
- “Follow your dreams”
- “Indulge yourself”
- “You deserve it”
- “Love yourself first”
- “You can live your best life now”
- “Only surround yourself with people who are going to lift you higher”
We are constantly bombarded with the message of “selfism”, so much that it begins to sound and feel like truth.
The idea that we are here on this earth to fulfill God’s purpose, not ours, is NOT a popular message.
Jesus says in Mark 8:34-36, “If any of you wants to be my follower, you must give up your own way, take up your cross, and follow me. If you try to hang on to your life, you will lose it. But if you give up your life for my sake and for the sake of the Good News, you will save it.”
For much of my life, church was the place I went to get “filled up”. I expected to go to church and have someone make me feel welcome at the door, lead me in worship that made me feel good and sounded nice, and feed me spiritually. If I wasn’t getting those things, I thought it was the fault of the Pastor, the worship leader or just the church in general. But as I grew in the Lord, studied his Word and submitted to his authority in my life, I became more aware of the fact that my life does not belong to me…that my purpose in life actually doesn’t have anything to do with me….but has EVERYTHING to do with fulfilling HIS purpose and his mission. It has changed my view of what I expect when I come to church. Instead of looking to be the one “fed”, the Lord began to show me that he had placed me there for HIS purpose. Could it be that I was “sent” to pour his word into someone else’s life on a particular Sunday? Could it be that I was there to fulfill his purpose rather than mine? It was a major paradigm shift in my thinking process.
I am so thankful to be at a church now where there is God–glorifying worship; and teaching that is doctrinally solid, edifying to the body of believers, and full of truth. And I do go home with my soul feeling like it has been fed. But the purpose for going to church now has become more about what God wants to do through me rather than what I can get for myself. Instead of thinking about whether the music is too loud or the worship isn’t my style or the message didn’t do anything for me, I begin to look for opportunities to share God’s word, to speak truth into someone’s confusion, or to pray, encourage and cry with someone who is broken and struggling.
I think this very same thought has been articulated so well over the last few weeks on this blog series about living missionally in every aspect of our lives, including at church.
The fact is, there are hurting, lonely, struggling people sitting in our churches every single Sunday. There are people sitting next to you who maybe have gone to church their whole lives, but still aren’t saved. There could be someone sitting next to you who’s never heard or understood the gospel message. Could it be that you were “sent” to share with that particular person, on that particular day?
Instead of the mentality of “what am I going to “get” here at church today (the “self-oriented mentality), I want to have his purpose in mind… “Jesus, who are you “sending” me to minister to today?” If I try to hoard my life and my time so that my needs, treasures and dreams can be fulfilled, I will end up losing it all according to Jesus’ words in Mark 8. But if we are willing to surrender our lives, to die to ourselves, for the sake of Christ and his gospel, we will actually be saved. We will begin to bear fruit that brings life to others and glory to God.
Are you ready to live this way? Are you willing to go where he wants you to go, do what he wants you to do, say what he wants you to say…even at church? Do you struggle with surrendering it all to him? I know I do sometimes! But he is gracious to remind me of this, “For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake and the gospel’s will save it.”
Living “missionally” means being “sent out” in whatever places we find ourselves on a day-to-day and moment by moment basis. It’s living every day life with gospel intentionality. And it begins with those God has placed around us…even at church!
Our success will begin with our surrender! Lord teach us to surrender to your will in every aspect of our lives, living out our lives to fulfill your purpose. You are so much more than anything we could ever have imagined.