Although I know it has been a major buzzword (with all of the misuse and/or overuse that entails) in some circles, I have come to believe more & more in the missional church. To be missional, in my understanding, is more than simply “doing” mission work in faraway places as a program or department of a church; rather, it is the priesthood of all believers living and embodying the message of Christ anywhere and everywhere we go, participating in the missio dei with our whole lives. For some great insight into the missional discussion, check out Friend of Missional.

It saddens me when our pastor greets me with a big smile and a handful of glossy brochures of mega-church x’s summer mission program and urges me to set up our own ten day summer “mission” trips so that we can strengthen the faith of our young people and, of course, make our own glossy brochures. I’m not knocking these quick mission adventure trips. They really can be life-changing; but, in my experience, there is a strange paradox of people receiving the most when they go with the intention of giving the most.  So, to make the primary objective of these mission trips the personal enrichment of those who participate is to miss the point. I even enjoy designing brochures, but I remain unconvinced that we should do it simply because the big guys do it. With so much working against short-term mission trips, and even perhaps the very concept of missionaries (the tragedy of the Korean missionaries in Afghanistan this past summer highlighted this tension), it is tempting to dismiss completely the traditional paradigm of church and mission.

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However, there is definitely something to be said about the people who go to the hard places in order to share the love of God and the message of Christ. I was reminded of that today, as our family drove up to Los Angeles to see my mother-in-law. She has been on furlough from her mission work in Nepal for about a month, and is going back next week. She is over sixty years old and spends most of the year in one of the most remote places on earth, teaching orphans and bringing the kingdom. She gave me the bracelet above, which reminds me to pray for her, after returning from Nepal the first time a couple of years ago.

Certainly, missional living and traditional mission work are not mutually exclusive. In fact, I would imagine that missional people would want to live out and share the love of God in both their local community and around the world. And, by the same token, it makes no sense whatsoever for someone to go on a “mission trip” if they have no greater sense of the mission dei, that God is the one sending them.

May we become and build communities completely captured and sent by the love of God in Christ, everywhere.

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