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.”
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!