I have been around the Church-world for many years. I have
seen lots of buzzwords enter the vocabulary of the Church. A current word in our ecclesiastical
buzz-a-sphere is, “missional.” It’s not
a bad word – it’s a good word. In using
this word we are trying to get the Church to revisit her assignment and make
sure she is tracking with God’s mission.
I have seen the health that has come from this conversation. As I look
at our current definition, in some ways, it appears to be a three-legged stool trying
to stand with a leg missing.
If you had a friend who had served God and who was about to
die by execution, – a beheading to be precise, what would you tell them as they
waited to die? What words would you use to assure them they had not served in
vain or invested in the wrong things? In other words, what would you tell them
so they could die in peace?
John the Baptist was in such a predicament. He was arrested for telling a political
figure that his lifestyle was perverted.
As he waited in prison he began to doubt. He was sensing his days were numbered so he
sent a delegation to Jesus to ask him if he was the One.
Jesus sent back a profound answer,
“Go back to John and tell him what you have
heard and seen – the blind see, the lame walk, the lepers are
cured, the deaf hear, the dead are raised to life, and the Good News is being
preached to the poor.” (Matthew 11: 4-5)
Of all the
information Jesus could have sent back to John, so John could die in peace –
this was it. He didn’t include in his
message a statement of things that could be done in human power and strength –
good things like painting houses, raking leaves in your neighborhood or doing
oil changes for single moms in the church parking lot. Jesus sent back a functioning definition of a
Spirit-empowered Church living in culture.
As I look at the
early disciples, and the Church birthed on the Day of Pentecost, I see a
missional church that was a supernatural cohort embedded in culture making God
known in any and every way possible – good works and the supernatural included.
If you are reading
this and you serve in the Church, I don’t mean to step on your toes. I write this to simply have each of us
revisit our definition of what it means to be missional and make sure it
includes something of the supernatural dimension that Jesus shared with John
along with all the other wonderful works we do in his name. These elements work together, not in
exclusion of each other.
If we don’t revisit
and expand our current definition of missional to include something
supernatural, we will end up producing a ministry of good works that our local
service club could do without Jesus and that would not be a message that would
have brought John much peace as he waited in prison.