I had planned to post a piece on John’s prologue and the missional Messiah but Kent Shaffer over at churchrelevance.com body slammed me with this confession:
“Stuff was holding us back in a variety of ways from being agile and ministering more biblically. And the comfortable suburban, Evangelical lifestyle was desensitizing me from living out the gospel as I knew I should yet never did. I used bad theology to make convenient excuses to justify my lifestyle. I was using complex yet comfortable systems to try to replace the simple yet uncomfortable mandates of Christ.”
Over the next few weeks, this blog will discuss the pimpery that takes place in many a pulpit across America. With so many scandals (TBN, Eddie Long, Jack Schaap, etc) emerging, I’m wondering where the oversight is in the body of Christ. As much as pastors like to complain (and justifiably a number of times) about people who attack their ministries and methodology, there are just as many rogue self-called leaders who do not submit to anyone’s oversight.
Why does this continue to give black eyes to the body of Christ?
Next Post…..Pimpery Tactics
That Jesus quoted this in Luke 4:18-19 and then claimed to be the fulfillment of that scripture later is a portent of His ministry and of the Church’s. Among the activities Isaiah 61 shares:
- Anointed by the Spirit to proclaim the good news to the poor
- Bind up the brokenhearted
- Proclaim freedom for the captives
- Release prisoners from the darkness
- Proclaim the year of the LORD’s favor and the day of vengeance of our God
- Comfort all who mourn
Provide for the grieving
- beauty for ashes
- joy for mourning
- praise for despair
- beauty for ashes
- Planted as mighty oaks by the LORD
- Rebuild the ancient ruins
- Restore the devastated places
- Renew the ruined cities
- The people of God will be called “priests of the Lord” and will be “ministers of our God”
Random Thoughts about God’s Provision for Your Ministry
- Your God-ordained ministry is God’s idea, not yours
- Consequently, God is responsible for funding or resourcing His ministry through you
- Remember Abraham. God told Abram (Abraham) to get up and go and THEN He would show him where to go and what to do.
- We are encouraged to pray for “daily bread” in the Model Prayer (Matt. 6:11)
- “We walk by faith and not by sight” (2 Cor. 5:7): that means you’re going to find yourself in situations where you must step out on faith before you have everything you THINK you need
The Missional, Covenant-Keeping God
God missional activity is geared toward redressing the Genesis 3:6 problem—the fall of humanity.
Covenant was God’s means of setting apart for Himself a people who would reflect His redemptive power. I also believe that covenant was God’s way of revealing Himself a given community who did not know Him or walk in His ways.
God’s Missional Activity
Abrahamic Covenant (IN-FOR-THROUGH)
- God initiates the contact and the covenant with Abram.
- God promises to make Abram a great nation and bless him. (FOR)
- God then promises to make Abram’s name great and to make Abram a blessing. (IN)
- God promises to treat those who come into contact with Abram according to their treatment of Abram (FOR)
- God promises that all the families of the earth will be blessed through Abram (THROUGH)
God’s activity for much of the Old Testament echoes of this covenant. God wanted a people for Himself who would walk in His ways and be a light for the nations. The missional God works things FOR His people but also works IN His people that He could work THROUGH them in order to reach those who do not know Him. There are a number of notable “converts” who respond to God’s grace. One of the best examples is Ruth, a Moabitess whose life was forever changed by God. She would become the grandmother of King David and a descendent of the Lord Jesus Christ.
The Missional Implications
- We as God’s people understand that whatever God chooses to do for us is not just about us but about what God will do THROUGH us to reach others.
- We as God’s missional people lived set apart (sanctified) lives that shine the light on God’s righteousness and their need for Him.
The next few posts will look at the “missional” God—in other words, how God Himself broke into communities to reveal Himself and transform the lives of the people. This quick survey will begin in the Old Testament and jaunt right through the New Testament until the very end.
A Working Definition
There are many definitions floating in the church world about what missional actually is. So much is the discussion that many worry that the term missional could become cliché (my own username makes use of the word!).
What Missional Does NOT Mean
- Skinny white male in skinny black jeans with black rimmed glasses he doesn’t need doing nice things in Jesus’ name for the people around him
- Dishing up organic, fair-trade food for the homeless
- Removing all the crosses from your sanctuary
- Having couches in your church sanctuary
- Meeting in homes
- Meeting at bar
You get the point. With the exception of an obvious few from the list above, there are some kingdom-minded activities that have good intentions.
But good intentions are not enough when eternity hangs in the balance for people.
For the purposes of this study, I will hearken to Alan Hirsch’s definition:
“A proper understanding of missional begins with recovering a missionary understanding of God. By his very nature God is a “sent one” who takes the initiative to redeem his creation. This doctrine, known as missio Dei—the sending of God—is causing many to redefine their understanding of the church. Because we are the “sent” people of God, the church is the instrument of God’s mission in the world” 
With this in mind, I will focus my discussion on God’s direct activity with the people He focused on as well as on God’s activity through the people He sends on His behalf.
Part 2: The Missional, Covenant-Keeping God