Jesus traveled throughout the region of Galilee, teaching in the synagogues and announcing the Good News about the Kingdom. And he healed every kind of disease and illness. News about him spread as far as Syria, and people soon began bringing to him all who were sick. And whatever their sickness or disease, or if they were demon-possessed or epileptic or paralyzed-he healed them all. Large crowds followed him wherever he went-people from Galilee, the Ten Towns, Jerusalem, from all over Judea, and from east of the Jordan River (Matt.4:23-25 NLT).
As I sit here in the coffee shop, I have one thing on my mind (other than writing this post), and that is football. The weather is getting warmer (finally), but it’s not football season yet. In fact, I wish football season would be as long as baseball season. However, I do not believe the player’s bodies could handle that. They might get beat up a little too much if the season lasted through spring, summer, and fall. Nonetheless, I always feel a void in my life when it’s not football season. But it does give me time to dream. It gives me a chance to think, This year could be the year! The Eagles could actually win a Super Bowl this year! But I digress!
What I was thinking though, is how great it is when we have a mobile quarterback. Just in the past sixteen years or so, McNabb and Vick were the two most notable mobile QB’s that Philly has had. If you go back a little further, Randall Cunningham was another. Regardless of the issues that mobile quarterbacks have (injury prone, hard to win the big game), they sure do make the game exciting to watch! They are a huge headache for defenses because you never know what they’re going to do. Will they run? Will they pass? It’s hard to defend against a mobile QB. I’m still shaking my head from last year though. Why in the world did the Eagles (Chip Kelly) not keep Tebow? That guy is super tough. He’s improved his passing game. He’s mobile. The only thing he’s guilty of is winning games. It might not be as pretty as everyone wants it to be, but the guy wins ballgames. A mobile QB is a huge advantage for any team. But I digress again.
That got me thinking about Jesus. How can you not think about Jesus when pondering football? It’s natural for me. If anyone was a mobile QB, it was Jesus! Jesus was super tough. He even got killed during the game, yet He still wanted to play! He said, Coach! Put me back in! I want to keep playing! Unfortunately, our churches have it so wrong. We build these big buildings. We hide inside of them. And we ask people to come to us to do things they’re uncomfortable with. Who, outside of a church background, wants to sing songs and listen to a speaker go on for an hour on a regular basis? Seriously? No one that I can think of would want to do that. So why would we ask people to do that?
That is so NOT what Jesus did. Jesus went out to the people. If you look closely at the Scripture above, you can see that Jesus was all over the place. He constantly traveled. He didn’t stay in one place for too long. It says that He traveled and news about Him spread all around. Furthermore, it states that a ton of people followed Him wherever He went. Jesus was mobile. The people did come to Him, but it was because He was traveling all around and news about what He was doing spread like wildfire. He went to the people. He addressed their needs. He listened to them. He healed them. He taught them. He gave good news. And that good news spread. So obviously the people wanted to hear what He had to say. So yes. They did come to Him. Who wouldn’t want to see that?
And that’s what being missional is all about! I know the word missional is a relatively new buzzword going around, but it’s not a new concept at all. It is simply how Jesus lived His life. And we’re attempting to follow His example. Moreover, the most important observation that we all can make is that Jesus did not do this missional thing alone. If I could give one criticism (myself included) is that missional is preached, taught, and written about like it’s an individual effort. Certainly part of it is individual. We do need to personally make the decision to live this kind of lifestyle at home, in the workplace, and wherever we go. However, Jesus was missional in community with His disciples. That is such a critical piece of information. Jesus didn’t travel alone. Jesus always took His disciples with Him. He included other people in His life. They did life together. God never intended Christians to be lone-gunmen. This is why we do missional communities in our church. We call them MAGs (Missional Action Groups).
Each one of our MAGs is considered a church. The goal of our MAGs is to do life together, learn together, eat together, and reach out together. We do this in community. We meet in homes throughout the week. Additionally, each one of our MAGs has a particular mission (person/s; people group) we’re trying to reach. Obviously, we would not be a missional ACTION group if we did not have a mission and actively pursue it. But not all MAGs are the same. We come in all shapes and sizes. The point, however, is living on mission wherever we are. We follow Jesus. We do life in community. And we take the Great Commission very seriously. Each MAG is not just a Bible Study that meets in someone’s home where we drink coffee. The point is to be mobile and out with people (believers AND non-believers) like Jesus was.
Of course, this does not mean that we all need to quit our jobs and roam around from town to town around America. We can do this in the context of where we live and what we do. We can build our lives around this mission. The key is to live the missional life where we are and through what we’re already doing rather than adding things to our schedules. As we team up with other Christians (in MAGs) we can team up with people that have similar schedules, settings, and passions so we can go on mission together in community. That way we don’t need to do it alone. Jesus didn’t do it alone. He always had His motley crew with Him.
If you’re a part of an established church, consider starting a missional community. We’d love to coach you through how to go about it. But the first few steps are getting out of that church building, stop going to Bible studies (Bible Studies are Killing the Church), start building relationships with people that don’t know Jesus, and not going at it alone. So get out of your house! Get out of your church building! Be out and about around town! Spend time with people that don’t know Jesus! Just get out there! Get in the game. And if no one’s open, run the ball! Be a mobile disciple. Inevitably, you’re probably going to get hurt. But wouldn’t you rather get hurt running the ball instead of standing in the pocket waiting to get sacked!
If no one’s open, run the ball! In traditional church settings, no one has been open for a long time! So why stand in the pocket waiting to get sacked? “As the Scriptures say, “No one is righteous- not even one. No one is truly wise; no one is seeking God” (Romans 3:10-11 NLT). There are no seekers. The only people visiting your church are the church hoppers and shoppers. And even if true non-believers did visit, they wouldn’t like it anyway! Their search for peace and purpose would continue on.
“They don’t know where to find peace” and “They have no fear of God at all” (Romans 3:17-18 NLT). But if we are building relationships with them, having meals with them, drinking coffee with them, serving them, blessing them, and talking with them, then they might learn how to find that peace over time. They’re only going to find it if you are out pursuing them and if God is working on their hearts. They’re not going to run to your church building. So let’s get out there! Let’s run the ball! Let’s be mobile disciples together!
Questions to consider…
- Do you spend time OUTSIDE of your home? Are you involved in your town’s activities? One of the easiest ways to be missional in your home town is to be out with the people. A few examples are sports, PTO, community events, local coffee shops, gym, etc. I’m not saying you need to do ALL of those and spend all waking hours away from home, but being involved in what’s going on in your town can break the rut of the I-don’t-know anyone-itis. This is especially helpful for introverts, like myself, who have a hard time meeting and getting to know people. When you constantly rub shoulders with the same people (like at football practice or on the treadmill), you will inevitably get to know them. It’s a no-brainer.
- Are all of your friends believers? Do you have any close relationships with people that don’t know Jesus? Do you at least ATTEMPT to have friendships with people that don’t know Jesus? We have zero chance of impacting the world for Jesus if we’re not at least attempting to make a difference. If all of your friends are believers and all your activities are inside the church walls, consider cutting at least 75% of that out and making room in your life for people that don’t yet know Jesus. Could you be as bold as to start a missional community where you are? Is there another believing couple/person that would do it with you? There is training available. We’d love to show you how to do it and provide ongoing coaching.
- If you’re already in a missional community, what is your mission? Who are you, as a group, trying to reach? Develop goals to put you in contact with these people as much as possible. Build your group around this purpose instead of just getting together for a Bible study. Trust me, you already know enough Bible. You just need to apply what you already know. This is what Jesus did with His disciples. Please note that while soup kitchens, homeless shelters, and packing shoe-boxes are noble causes and great places to volunteer, chances are that you’re not building relationships with people that don’t know Jesus (there are exceptions). I’m not saying never serve in those places. But consider branching out in your own town and doing life with people that you can share the Good News of Jesus with over time. Consider even your next door neighbors. Have them over for dinner. Have the football team over in your backyard for a pool party, BBQ, or a movie night.
- Does a missional lifestyle and missional communities sound like a foreign concept? In the 1st Century, as the church was just starting out, our way of doing church now would sound foreign to them! They didn’t have church buildings until a few hundred years after the fact. And it wasn’t a good thing. In America, we’re prone to individualism, passively taking in services, and ignoring community. But being missional is anything but passive. Being in the back yard watching the kids play, having a beer around the fire-pit, eating great food, and spending time with people is a lot of fun. Great conversation ensues. Spiritual conversation ensues. It’s inevitable that people will ask what you’re doing and why you’re doing it (1 Peter 3:15).