This was one of my most popular blog post from a while back that I thought I would repost again It’s been a good reminder for me to look this over as we launch a new site in South Seattle.
So what does the missional life look like for us?
When Amy and I lived in the Seattle area our lives were devoted to helping people live deeper into their commitment of following Jesus. I (Matt) loved my role as a youth pastor and Amy was (and still is) passionate about mentoring young women. We were good at what we did and yet even in the midst of our joy, we increasingly felt disconnected from the realities of what it meant to follow Jesus. We were so busy being with the people who attended our church that we seldom made time to be with the people that would never walk through the doors of the church. We rarely invited our neighbors over for dinner. Most of our good friends were Christians while our other friends were mostly from the job place (but we didn’t make enough time to invite them over because we were so busy with church). And the only other place we met unbelievers were on mission trips or outreach events. Missions became an event rather than a way of life.
When we came to terms with the disconnected lives we were living we began to make changes. I joined a basketball team full of unbelievers, we began being intentional with our neighbors, and Amy was more intentional with friends at work. Yet, even in the midst of our changes, something still felt a bit off. We were going at it all alone. Nobody from our church knew our neighbors, Amy’s coworkers, or my teammates who I played basketball with. It’s difficult to stay motivated and persevere when “going alone”.
We began to long for a connected life as we see pictured in the book of Acts where tribes of believers who lived in close proximity to each other shared life and committed collectively to be Kingdom players in their local context (neighborhood).
We believe it was God who placed that longing in our hearts and somehow He navigated us towards a tribe of people who have received similar promptings. In many ways we don’t know what we are doing…we are stumbling our way through this with both success and failure, but one thing is for sure: God has graciously allowed us to live a more connected life and it is deeply fulfilling.
Below are five unique characteristics to our life of mission:
1. For Amy and I, living missional starts with our neighborhood. We care about the area we inhabit. We put a lot of work into researching the history of our neighborhood, who makes up it’s residents now, and where it is headed. All of us make an effort to serve in a way that will bring healing to the area, and we are actively present in the places where our neighbors gather such as the local recreation center, coffee shops, parks, and non-profits.
2. We live out our missional life with a committed group of believers that we call our “intentional community.” We gather for a shared meal and worship on Sunday evenings, for missional formation on Tuesday evenings, and often throughout the rest of the week (attending an art show together, serving at a recovery home together, or throwing a potluck together).
3. Our intentional community has committed to live in the same neighborhood. This makes shared life and mission more natural as we bump into the same neighbors at all the same places.
4. We pray with each other and with our neighbors. We bring our fellow kingdom players to Jesus when we experience trials. This keeps us encouraged and it gives us the grace we need to stay in the game. We also bring our neighbors to Jesus by praying with them when we sense the Spirit leading us.
5. We seek to multiply ourselves by pioneering other “intentional communities” in our neighborhood and in our city. We are not content unless these communities are being birthed out of a response to our neighbors coming to know Jesus.
Now that you have heard a bit of our story and how we go about engaging a life of mission I feel compelled to confess two fears I have in sharing with you all.
Fear #1: You would so resonate with this story and long for it and yet, in the same breath, determine that it can’t happen for you. The result of this is often discouragement and a lack of movement. My response: You can step deeper into a life of mission. The way God has created you to live on mission should look different than how we go about it. The beautiful thing is we can learn from each other. So may this inspire you to live deeper into the missional life according to how God has uniquely wired each of you.
Fear #2: You would dismiss this story altogether. You might find yourself saying, “If I were a full-time missionary like them then I could live this life.” This question causes me to ask you a question: What if you could live as a missionary while working full-time? It’s happening in our community, it’s happening in places around the world all the time. It is possible. Our community makes it pretty clear that we don’t get paid to live a missional life (even Amy and I). Rather, for those of us that raise funds (like ourselves) do so only to train other leaders to pioneer creative ways to live this out all around the world. This is our passion. We want to help you live this out. We believe in each of you!
Please share your story with us and let us know if we can come alongside you in anyway. Let all of our stories be contagious for they are simply reminders of the GRAND story we all are invited to participate in.