Monday, March 28, 2011

Being Practical about Missional

On Friday, I ate at an Indian restaurant by myself. I chose not to pray before I ate. Not sure why. I probably didn't do it because I have been rather litigious about that in the past. When I was in college, I started praying before meal at restaurants. I was motivated by the desire to be a good witness and resist the fear to be intimidated by others.

After not praying at the Indian restaurant on Friday, it hit me why I might actually pray before a meal. I pray not because I want to influence others. I pray not because I want to combat any fear of judgement. (At least not now) I pray because Jesus people are thankful people, because Jesus people recognize the source of food. Prayer is not about other people. It's about being who I am. If that impacts others then so be it, but that's not my motivation. A "witness" only needs to demonstrate what is true. A "witness" does not have to be more than that to make an impact.

I think this also relates to what it means to be missional. Last week I challenged some of the forms of "doing" mission that turn people into projects. Over the last year, as I have challenged this doing mission perspective, I've gotten some push back because people want practical things that can be done to help people get started on mission. No doubt this is true. I don't want to be impractical.

Instead, I want to invite people into a different imagination. We can do things to change the world, and most of the time we turn people into projects because we want to get something done. Or we can be who we are as God's missional people and we will learn to love people and thereby change the world. Things change because we love and I don't know if there is anything more practical than that.


James Nored said...

Hi Scott. We had some Twitter interaction a few months ago after the publication of your book, Missional Small Groups.

I understand the danger of making people into projects. And yes we should love people genuinely.

But there is nothing wrong with being intentional about our faith and wanting to reach people for Christ.

There is a false dichotomy that is being promoted on this subject. Either we love people and do nothing intentional to share Christ with them because somehow being genuine friends means that we don't share our faith. Or we turn them into projects, which means that we do not love them.

Can we not both love people genuinely which seeking to be intentional about sharing our faith with people?

I am a missional dude, not doubt. But it seems that many in the movement are so consumed with being in proximity and so concerned about evangelistic abuses of the past that they now treat sharing our faith as if it is a violation of friendship or genuineness.

Trust me. I don't worry about our people sharing their faith too much or being pushy. I worry about them saying virtually anything about their faith with non-Christians.

This is an important subject, so I'm glad that you are blogging about this to give us an opportunity to discuss it.

Scott Boren said...

James, Great comments. And I doubt that our perspectives are very far apart. I know I am pushing here and I am glad for your push back. I am looking for new language on this topic. I've yet to really find satisfactory ways to talk about this and therefore healthy ways to engage our neighborhoods with the Gospel. Either our language is overly pragmatic and can easily turn into programatic ways to "get people saved" or the language is so nebulous and lacks practical direction that we don't know what to do. I don't think that love means being unintentional. When I am my best at loving my wife and kids, I am very intentional.

You've given me some great stuff to wrestle with. I hope we can dialogue about this some more.