Missional & Incarnational

A couple weeks ago I had the opportunity to hear Alan Hirsch speak. (Forgotten Ways is his latest book.) That was the beginning for me on my current journey of thinking through the terms, ideas, methods, and many, many thoughts that come to mind when people mention “missional/incarnational” living. Since writing helps me process a little, I thought I would write a little bit and invite feedback if anyone else has some thoughts on this. As another side note, I have recently felt called to make life changes in order to live more intentionally, to make more space in life in order to spend more time with people,especially in my own neighborhood.

Some quick definitions. (From the bookThe Tangible Kingdom)

Missional People – individuals actively committed to living a “sent” life in the context of community.

Incarnational Community – a group of people with the posture, tone, motives, and heart of Jesus; those who physically represent him in a particular location.

So, starting this summer, my schedule has started to include more opportunities for me to interact with other people. Be that through the gym, sports,neighborhood/community boards, etc. To intentionally seek out relationships with those in the community that surrounds me. My reality was that over the last couple years I was either so scheduled with activities, church, etc that I had hardly met my neighbors,or I simply chose not to engage. You know even at church we have started to encourage everyone to only attend one group at church. (Be that offsite or onsite) It is important to understand why. Not just so that everyone can be busier with the rest of their lives, but so that there is also more time for intentional missional living in your context. Be that in your community or elsewhere.

Have you ever noticed how often God shows up “on the way”? As in an interruption of your schedule. It might have even happened to you today already. In Acts 3 Peter and John are walking towards the temple to pray, and they run into a lame beggar who stops them. They ministered to him, the guy has a great spiritual awakening, etc. In my opinion Peter and John walked into a setup by God. You know I “hear” God speak to me a lot during my times of reflection and meditation, but it’s easy to only expect God to show up during those times, when in reality He is setting us up all the time. It’s not just in church, during the sermon, during the small group prayer time that he heals, teaches us, comforts and speaks to us. I know we know this, but do we live our lives like we know. Scripture’s show us the picture of faith being lives out very dramatically on the streets, during the daily grind of life. Non-churched people saw the power of the early communities of believers, talking with them around tables, or in homes, maybe fishing in the sea of Galilee or at the local well. They interacted with them in life and through that interaction, through that friendship engaged in spiritual conversations.

Hugh Halter in “The Tangible Kingdom” says that incarnation speaks to our posture, our timing, and how much of our time we give people before we ever share biblical truths with them. (Prevenient grace is a term that says God is already at work in everybody’s lives calling them to Himself. It’s not as if I am some great bringer of truth. I am to be a friend, and I am blessed by having my neighbors for friends, and if God prompts the opportunity, if he “sets me up” for a conversation, then I will enter in, but my goal is to be there, to be available for that divine “setup” and i get to hang out with really cool people along the way, and I do hope that they would one day accept Christ as saviour, but my goal is friendship, the Holy Spirit has the tough job) Hugh goes on to say that, “incarnation also speaks to where the most important times of ministry will take place. To be incarnational, therefore, means that we must begin where Jesus began with us.Outthere! With People! Along the way!(Hugh’s emphasis)

So, the above narrative, in various forms, has been banging around in my head the last few weeks. I have many more, probably random thoughts, but this is why I am changing my schedule. I didn’t give people much of my time, just to hang out, have fun, and enjoy friendship and fellowship with them. If they wanted to hear the salvation message. Sure, sign me up, but to spend time, to laugh, to share our stories, to become a friend….sorry, too busy for that…Lord, I got the message. I’m sorry it took so long.

Imagine if Jesus walked into the room you’re in right now and said, “come on, get up, and come with me.” Where do you picture Him taking you first? Maybe it’s someone’s home. If so, whose? Maybe it’s someplace you’ve never been. Where? Why would He take you there?

Have you been too busy…with church….with all the things your kids “must do?”…with yourself?

I’ve started to simplify and I am still very busy and yet… I have made more friends in the last 3 weeks than I have in the last 2 years and my life is richer because of it.

PS I realize everyone is on a different path in their journey. However if this is something that seems to resonate with you I am thinking of starting a weekly meeting to go through the book “The Tangible Kingdom Primer” It’s an 8 week discussion guide to stimulate thought and conversation on the missional and incarnation life. I’d love for it be an informal discussion, with old and new friends. With food too. If this is something that would interest you, leave a comment or email me and we’ll set something up.

You can view a sample of the document here.