I watched a video yesterday in which John Piper described “missions” as taking the Gospel across cultural lines.
I’ll accept this definition readily and then reply by saying that the crossing of cultures is mandatory in the every day lives of almost everyone in the entire world. We do it when we go to work or school. We do it when we go to the store. We do it when we visit our neighbors.
The people with which we deal in the course of our routine lives come from various places and they have different cultures. They have divergent values and they speak in a dissimilar voice.
I admit that the differences are minute in many cases, but they are still there. In other instances, we find dramatic disparity.
Which is why every Christian should carry the mindset of a missionary with him or her, wherever they go. It is necessary that we seek to understand those around us: how they communicate, what they think, what they value. When we understand these things, we can more effectively share the Gospel with them.
The Missional Church is simply a church in which the members consider themselves missionaries in the context where they already live. Rather than depending on the staff or a select group of “visitation” volunteers, all the members of the church take on the responsibility of living and communicating the Gospel to the various networks to which they belong.
If the church is made of people who don’t understand the separate cultures around them, the separate values systems… if it is made up of people who expect that the people around them already share their values… the spread of the Gospel is diminished for two reasons.
- The church member does not recognize the need around them, assuming that their friends and acquaintances already share their values – Christian values – and is not motivated to share the Gospel to meet that unseen need.
- If the church member does attempt to communicate the Gospel, they will likely not attempt to communicate in a manner intended to be received easily by the hearer, but one that is easier for the teller. It’s not unlike moving to Africa and then expecting the Kenyan to speak English so that you can communicate. It might happen, but it’s not likely, and if they do they may not be very good at it.
If a church really expects to fulfill the mission of God to which it is assigned, the people must understand who they are: Missionaries to their own world.