It’s been more than ten years since I was introduced to the terminology of “missional church.” Hey, what do you know? we are meant to live out the Gospel in our daily, walking-around lives, as missionaries in each and every context. Amazing, right?
As a refugee from the mega-church movement of modern church life and fame-seeking Christian celebrity marketing, the missional living conversation was a timely lifeboat for my journey. I loved Jesus, I struggled with the circus, and this was a call out of a churchy-ghetto, and into the real world with a message of Love. Now my life, even here in a prosperous corner of Canada, is a missionary life, a life of embodying God’s hope and good news. Justice and mercy, hope and goodness, love and peace, are desperately needed. My friends were not going to church and were suspicious (even hostile) of labels like “evangelical” but I was going to my friends, and so the idea of missional living made sense in my context.
I was reading books from seminary academics and interacting with emerging church thinkers and theorists. But it all felt rather like an ivory tower to me, divorced from real-life application and living out. I often thought to myself, well, that sounds great but what does it mean in my real life?! At the time, there weren’t a lot of bloggers writing about missional living (well, in those days there weren’t so many bloggers, period), story-telling hadn’t become the saturated scapegoat medium of Christian writers, and the terms “ordinary radical” and “missional” hadn’t jumped the Christian publishing shark.
So I decided to start writing about how this whole “missional thing” actually looked in my life, right here, in Vancouver. I was full of ideas – I would write stories about my interactions with my neighbours! with my co-workers! with my friends! with strangers at the park! with the poor and marginalised in my city! I would be the “voice on the ground” from the front-lines of this whole missional life, these stories would be valuable and needed. I could share real-life conversations with real-life people. Church people would learn from my arguments disguised as stories. I had an agenda for justice! and maybe I could be, like, the VOICE of missional living in real life! People would learn and understand how to actually apply the theories now!
Clearly, I had missed the point. But I wrote a few posts over the period of a year or so. Then I stopped writing those stories. I ended up deleting every single post.
Read the rest of this essay over at D.L. Mayfield’s site, “Living in the Upside Down Kingdom.”
This essay is part of her excellent and thought-provoking series on War Photographers, chronicling how we write about others. D.L. influences my own journey often with her honesty and thoughtfulness, and her family’s commitment to actually DOING the stuff that the rest of us are usually just talking about all the time. Also, she’s one helluva writer and a good friend.