All Posts By

Gina Mueller

It’s Just What We Do in This Family

By | Uncategorized | No Comments

Parenting has given me such concrete examples of deeper spiritual truths.

Like this one:  Knowing what family we belong to helps us understand what it looks like to represent that family in the world.  

The conversation in our house has gone something like this:

Daughter:  “But mom, my friends get to…”

Mom:  “Well, sweetheart, in this family we…”

There are certain things we do as Mueller’s. There are certain ways we act or behave.  So, if you are a Mueller and you belong to our family, you need to know we aim to forgive generously.  Because you’re a Mueller, you should be aware we expect you to respond a certain way—we think about others’ feelings, we look for ways to serve them and we do our best to love people well.  As a Mueller, you will have certain rhythms— Friday night is family night.  You’ll find us making pizzas and watching a movie or playing board games.  Because you’re a Mueller, you need to recognize that we dress a certain way.  (I can see this conversation getting more real as she gets older!)

There are certain things we do, certain things we are because we are Muellers.  Being a part of this family hopefully helps our kids have a framework to know how to live, how to act, how to treat people.  They certainly won’t get it right every time, just as they see us not get it right every time.  But we hope that, over time, knowing they are a Mueller becomes a launching pad that helps them live into the fullness of their potential.

What’s true in the natural is often true in the spiritual.

If we don’t understand who we are, how can we possibly represent the Father accurately in the world around us?  

Understanding our Covenant relationship with the Father is the starting place for living a fruitful and impactful life on mission.

Covenant is how God wants to relate to us.  He’s our Dad.  He’s the Father of our family.  He calls us His own, give us His name and access to all His resources.  We are His.  We get to know Him and be known by Him.  He created us in His image to look like Him, to be a reflection of our Dad in heaven.

Part of looking like Him is to live as sent ones—just as Jesus was the first Sent One, sent from God the Father to be a representation of the Kingdom of God on earth.  Just as God the Father sent Jesus, He is sending us to represent Him in the world around us and to look like Him to the world around us.

When we truly understand WHO we are, living a naturally missional life and being a part of expanding the Kingdom of God in the world around us is simply a response to our truest identity.

When we realize who the Father says we are—son or daughter of the Most High, child of God, heir to the throne, one who is protected, defended, redeemed and restored—being a living representation of God to the world around us is not just what we do in this family.  It’s who we are.

You have a Covenant identity.  The Father gives it to you.  Living missionally in your everyday life: loving your neighbors in the name of Jesus, laying your hands on the sick and praying for them to be well, having a deep desire that God would show up in your normal everyday interactions—well, that’s just what we do in this family.

It’s simply a response to who you really are.

It is who are.  It’s how you’re made.  His imprint is on you.

What does it look like for you today to live into a more complete picture of your Covenant identity in your neighborhood, in your workplace and in your everyday life?

Living into an Unpolished Missional Vision

By | Uncategorized | No Comments

I’m a planner.  I love organization, tidiness, and feeling prepared for things.  Color-coded calendars give me an odd sense of satisfaction!  Planning ahead and having things in nice neat boxes has served me well for many parts of my life and leadership.  But there are other places where the Lord is teaching me to chill out a bit and see what He’s doing before I go and make my nice, neat plans!

 

In the missional community I lead, we are sensing the Lord calling us to a new level of purpose and intentionality with mission in this next season.  Our community has seen huge growth in terms of becoming family and sharing life together, and we’ve worked hard at predictable patterns of gathering and playing well together.  But there’s an overall sense that the water level is rising and the Lord is up to something and it’s time to go after it with gusto.

 

If left to my most natural leadership tendencies, I would cast crazy-compelling vision, get everyone fired up and go for it!  But it’s awkward.  Every time I try to do that, the Lord’s like, “nope.”
Awkward.

 

And then I remember: mission isn’t about my great visionary ideas of how we can help the Kingdom of God break in.  Mission is about partnering WITH God where he’s ALREADY at work around us.  That means we need to see what He’s already doing!

 

We’ve been given an incredible invitation to partner with God in HIS mission to restore the world back to himself.  It’s amazing, really.  In my excitement, I can get way ahead of Him with great ideas that are just that…great ideas.  But they may not be His ideas.

 

So as much as I’d love to already have a beautifully polished missional vision statement (I still have faith we’ll get there!), I’ve been learning to live in the tension of what we know God has called us to thus far and what He’s still revealing through the journey.  What I feel most passionate about, though, as we live in this tension is that we don’t wait for the magical moment where it all comes together before we start engaging in meaningful “out.”  It could be an incredible temptation to sit around and wait until God brings amazing clarity.  But what I see throughout the fabric of scripture is that clarity comes in the GOing.

 

The Jordan river parted after the first set of toes were dipped into the water.

 

The food multiplied as the disciples gave it away.

 

So take what you know, start engaging with it and see what God reveals through the process.

 

For us, this has meant a couple of things:

 

We’ve become really good observers.  Who seems to be hanging around?  As we walk the neighborhood or part of town we feel called to reach, what do we notice?  We take note where people gather, how they celebrate, what the needs are, what’s going on in the area and ask the Lord how we can meaningfully engage in those things as a community.

 

We love experiments!  The word experiment communicates a freedom to try things, a freedom to take risks, and a freedom to fail!  It gives room to try different ways of engaging your neighbors or co-workers or your “who” that you feel called to reach.  What works?  What doesn’t?  Inevitably, you’ll stumble into things that surprise you.  Some of your experiments may become a new regular rhythm for your community.  Others you won’t do again.  Either way, HOW you reach those you are called to reach will become clearer as you try things.

 

So before you get all stressed out about your missional community or your missional family not having the full picture of what mission looks like specifically, embrace the process!  Live into your unpolished missional vision and allow time for the clarity to come as you GO!

Moving from Liking Mission to Living Mission

By | Uncategorized | No Comments

Moving from Liking Mission to Living Mission

 

It’s easier to “like” something than to live it.  You can “like” something nowadays with the simple click of a button.  It can tug on your heartstrings, brew up raw emotion or even get you to shout an audible “Amen!”  All you have to do is push that little “like” button and you feel like you’re supporting something bigger than yourself and getting behind something great—without ever leaving your chair.   I wonder – is that what we’re doing with the whole idea of living missionally?

 

Mission is a bit of a buzzword in the church at the moment, so it’s worth defining.  Others may define it differently, but for me it’s been helpful to think about mission this way: “mission” is how I engage with God where He’s already at work around me.  It’s not a trip.  It’s not an event I’ve signed up for.  It’s in the ordinary places and spaces of my life.

 

I recognize that as Jesus sent the disciples in the Great Commission, so I’ve been sent with all the other Jesus-followers to imitate His life within the context of mine–to “go and make disciples.”  As I have taken the posture of living as a “sent one”, I’ve also taken on His strategy, starting first in my Jerusalem.  I needed to work out what mission looked like in my hometown, in my neighborhood, in my daily rhythms and in my existing relationships.  Mission has meant learning to be a carrier of God’s power and presence into my everyday.

 

This has been a journey for me.  I must admit, I was drawn to the excitement of it all—the adventure, the catchy tweets and the feeling of being a part of something that would change how believers engage with what it means to follow Jesus today.  It just sounded so revolutionary, so paradigm-shifty, and so movemental.

 

I liked the idea of mission.  I really liked it.

It was a whole other enchilada to actually live it.

 

Recognizing my call to lead others in the things God is leading me, I’ve been a part of leading others into an ordinary, everyday missional life for some time now.  And it’s harder than it looks as you can probably relate.

 

So if you are trying to figure out how to lead your church or those you’re discipling to go beyond just liking the idea of mission and to seriously engage in living a life on mission, here are a few simple thoughts:

 

1:  Go first.  It starts with you.  Leaders always go first—that’s what it means to lead.  People will have a hard time following you into a life on mission if they can’t see it in your life first.   Here are a few probing questions to help you reflect on your missional leadership:

 

  • Do you have unchurched friends? Do you have real relationship with people who wouldn’t call themselves Christians?  If you do, prioritize those relationships.  Eat together, play together, celebrate together.  If you don’t, you probably need to get some.  I have been there, believe me.

 

  • Where are the places you already go, or the things you are already doing that with a bit of intentionality could become a missional outlet? Don’t think too hard.  Ask God to show you who your people of peace are and where you can start investing some of your own missional energy.  Just start trying some things.    Give yourself permission to fail.  Just go for it.

 

  • Are you letting those you are leading see you living on mission? If you’re already engaging in everyday mission, find ways to allow others to see the practical ways you are doing so!  Tell stories.  Get them praying with you.  Celebrate with others where you see the Kingdom of God breaking in to your world.  Give them something to follow and something tangible to imitate.

 

2:  Make discipleship a priority.  You’ve heard it from us before—we don’t have a missional problem, we have a discipleship problem.   When Jesus made disciples, the kind of disciples He made were missional disciples.  There wasn’t a missionary track and a discipleship track to his investment strategy.  Living missionally was simply what it meant to be a disciple of Jesus.   So if we have a discipleship strategy and it’s not producing missional disciples, it’s worth taking a look at what we’re missing as

we disciple.

 

  1. Emphasize imitation. It’s a skills thing, so bring them with you.  Hands down, the reason Christians don’t engage in everyday mission is because they don’t feel they know how.  They don’t feel they have adequate skills to do it well.  And when we don’t feel we’ll be good at something, we often just don’t do it.  We clam up, we let opportunities pass, and we psych ourselves out because no one has shown us what mission looks like practically!

 

Copy how Jesus developed this skill in the disciples he was leading.  Send them out on little missionary adventures.  Help them practice finding people of peace, starting up conversations with strangers, noticing what God is doing in a city or making missional observations about the world they’re living in.  Bring them with you to practice, let them see how you do it, and de-mystify the whole missional thing by demonstrating some practical skills they’ll need to be effective.

 

Of course, this isn’t an exhaustive list, but it’s a start.  And like anything, it always starts with us.

 

So how about you?  What’s your experience?  How have you moved people from liking mission into living a life on mission in practical ways?  What are you learning as you try different things in your context?

Battle for Perfection

By | Uncategorized | No Comments

As I prepare for STAND Minneapolis Women’s Equipping Weekend, I have been pondering the battles women face that keep us from living a missional life.

I’m convinced the enemy uses a sneaky stall tactic to paralyze us, to keep us in our own head, to slow down the kingdom impact we’re able to have around us. If he can just keep us focused on ourselves, well…then we’re not so focused on our neighbor, on investing in others, on looking for people of peace.

Here’s how this plays out.

I can’t be “missional” because other people are so much better at it than me! I don’t know what to say. It feels awkward. I’m not good at talking about my faith.

It sounds familiar. The long list of “I cant’s!” sounds a bit like Moses, doesn’t it? “Not me, Lord, I stutter! Surely there’s SOMEONE else you can use, someone much more qualified than I?!”

Yet the Lord chose him, using him in spite all the reasons why someone else might do it better. It was an internal battle Moses had to win to step into the calling the Lord had on his life. The Father had a vision for his life much larger than Moses could see in that moment. And it wasn’t about his qualifications or his abilities; it was about the Lord getting the glory.

I can’t be “missional” because my life isn’t perfect. I need a bigger (and spotless!) house to invite people in. What if they see my messes? What if they see my imperfections? What if my kids say something embarrassing? What if they get too close and see the “real” me that isn’t yet like Jesus?

Ladies, Martha Stewart and Pinterest have not helped us here! They’ve given us this unattainable picture of perfection and longing for magazine-like beauty at home that isn’t actually reality for most of us. Real people have real messes. Dirty laundry, dishes in the sink, dust bunnies in the corner.

If we only invite people in when there’s vacuum lines in our carpet, we’ve lost the point of inviting them close to SEE us. If all they see is perfection, how will our friends see how WE need Jesus? The world needs to see how Jesus meets us in our desperation, how He’s present in our suffering, how He transforms our hearts, how He brings life.

I can’t be “missional” because there just isn’t time. I’m so busy. Our lives are crazy! I don’t know when I would make time.

If only we could allow the Lord to breathe some missional creativity into the things we are ALREADY doing! It’s amazing when things like running our kids to their sports activities, picking up groceries or working out at the gym become an outlet for mission. Living a naturally missional life is less about adding things to our schedules and more about seeing the everyday places and spaces of our lives as opportunities for God to break in.

Ladies, there’s a frontier waiting. The Kingdom of God is ready to come to your neighborhood, your community, your city. It’s time for us to hike up our big girl pants and get on with it! So here’s your invitation to throw your Martha Stewart-meets-Pinterest idea of a perfect life to the waste side and join the rest of us normal, messy, everyday women who still need Jesus on an adventure of a lifetime.

STAND-withspeakers

3DM STAND

Women’s Equipping Weekend

March 27-28, 2015

Register Now

photo credit: Barricade Signs via photopin (license)