Monday, May 2, 2011

Baseball and Missional

It's time for baseball. This week our oldest plays his first baseball game and your second plays his first t-ball game. As I have watched them practice I am reminded about how hard this game is. To hit a small ball being thrown at you in unpredictable ways and then run around bases, but when you are on a base you can only advance when the ball hits the ground, but you can tag up after a ball is caught in the air. Wow! I'm confused and I have lived inside the game since I was eight.

I say this because baseball does not come naturally. Like any other sport, it requires focus training and practice. No successful baseball player just picks up a bat, ball and glove and knows what to do and is immediately good at it.

Baseball provides a good perspective on what it means to become missional. Some of us think that we will be missional if we just will our way into it. All we need is a desire to do something. Wrong! I've seen a lot of people who wanted to do good but when they ventured out on the "missional playing field" they did not know what to do. They had little to know practice. Others think that missional will suddenly come upon them by the power of the Spirit, which usually means when they have a special emotional encounter that magically sets them free to be everything that they are supposed to be. But that magical moment never comes so people remain in their current condition. Just as there is not sudden "I can play baseball" moment, there is nothing like that when it comes to being missional.

We have to practice. We must learn what it means to be missional. For many, if not most, the process will feel awkward at first. What do we need to practice to be missional? Great question. I believe that there are practices that come on three levels.
1. Personal Practices (Which I have started writing about in forthcoming titles)
2. Community Practices (Which I address in my book Missional Small Groups)
3. Pastoral Practices (Which I address in my new book MissioRelate)

Practice never makes perfect. But it does can make us missional, which in essence means that we are adopting patterns of life that live out God's missional love which seeks to redeem the world.

How are you practicing missional this week?


Anonymous said...

I actually think it's religion that perpetuates the idea that we can magically one day play baseball. Undeniably Jesus can meet someone and transform them and bring them healing and restoration in very sudden and dramatic ways - but we take this as far as thinking we can be instantly made totally different. So the message of "practice" is very needed.

Mike said...

Great thoughts Scott,
I "practice" by just being in safe "unsafe" places. I place myself in places that I am not sure of or comfortable with and learn to be in the environment. Today, I sat with someone who has a dying mother. My mother is alive, doesn't have cancer, and is healthy. I can practice by just being with that person. I don't know the right words, or the right ways, all I can do is be present to something that I don't know.

Scott Boren said...

Yes, religion tells us that we go and do our "spiritual thing" and then we get back to the rest of life. But what we "practice" shapes who we are. Baseball practice (or dance practice or any other kind of practice) shapes our life the more we do it. What might start off as just a part of life bleeds over into the rest of life. The problem is that religion allows us to relegate spirituality into a corner of our life without any expectation that it will truly change how we practice life.