Inflatable...missional...or something else entirely?
Books and hundreds of magazine and internet articles have been written about what it means to be 'missional'. I always think we're setting ourselves up for a little bit of trouble when we invent new words to describe what God has already gone to great lengths describing in His Word, and this 'new' word falls exactly into that category: trouble. Is church life really supposed to be so complex that we need to invent new words 2000 years after the inauguration in order to describe what we're to be about. Maybe instead of a new word, we need to simply remember what Jesus said was most important.
But never mind. If you simply must have a new word, then you must have a new word. Introducing the word: missional. But the definition? Of course, because it's a new word, there are dozens of definitions. But the best one I've found came, not from a PHD, pastor, or emergent leader. It came from a twenty-three year old posting the following on her web site (italics mine for emphasis):
Who's in the house? J.C's in the house...
The other day, while a friend was pumping gas, I wondered into a convenience store to buy myself an iced tea and was met at the door by a group of overly zealous, poster board waving, fifteen year old girls in triangle bikini tops and booty shorts, all of them blonde, bronzed, and recently hosed down.
"Car wash round back" One of them shouted at me. "Donation only!"
"What are you guys raising money for?" I inquired, mentally tallying possibilities. Cheerleading nationals...Dance Team Camp...Future Strippers of America convention...
"Well, it's for two things really. Bible camp this summer. But while we are there we are going to build a school. It's in
"But not, like a nice part. Not Cancun." piped up one of the peanut gallery.
"Oh...okay..." I said, dumbfounded. Youth group definitely didn't look that this when I was a kid, or more teenage boys would have been born agains.
"We're around back." They repeated, and I watched them walk away, the words "younglife" emblazoned on the seat of their three inch shorts, right above their almost exposed cheeks. And all I could think as I stood there, trying to wash the mental picture of 'tween T&A out of my head was, "damn. Christianity has gotten SEXY."
And so it has. Being a "Christian" means a lot of different things nowadays. It means being "hip". It means being "cool". It means being part of a membership only club ran by the big JC. It means being proud of who you are and not caring who knows it. It means wearing your wwjd bracelet everyday and supporting your president even though nobody else does and putting "I love Jesus" in your myspace profile and listing "god" as a hero. It means keeping up with MTV and what's "new" and "with it" because this is how you are going to drive your ministry. You have to have something catchy to put on those reader boards, after all.
In the past two weeks I have been invited to at least three different church sponsored events, all of them masquerading as something non-church related. I was met in a coffee shop/the park/the mall and given fliers for a B-movie night/ BBQ featuring an "emo" band/ 80's Dance party. I received all of these invites from super outgoing, well dressed, attractive individuals...all of whom didn't bother to ask my name. The fliers were well done, with graphics featuring only the coolest in inanimate object trends and color schemes (guns are the new skulls you know, and orange is the new pink, which was the new black.) and simple directions to nameless addresses that, upon further investigation, lead me not to a house party/club but to a *gasp* church activity center.
Though the promise of FREE PIZZA tempted me beyond belief I didnt opt to attend any of these functions, though I am sure some of the more naive members of my fair city were not so lucky. And after praying over their "free" pizza and being asked if they are down with the G-O-D (yeah you know me) and being preached at by some super cool, girl jeans sporting preacher who may or may not have colored hair or an eyebrow ring they left feeling totally had, and with a really bitter taste in their mouth in regards to God.
I have been lucky to have met some really amazing people in the past few years. I met them in a bar/ at a party/ through friends. They live their lives without excuses and without gimmicks. They build relationships not hoping to sucker you in but out of genuine interest in who you are. They are your friends because they want to be, not because they have to. And, unless you bring it up, they don't talk about being a "Christian" much. This doesn't stop you from knowing that they are, you do. You can tell by the way they lead their lives. But they never force it on you. It's refreshing and honest and exactly what "Christianity" should look like. When I think of the word "Christian" I think of them.
Unfortunately that's not true for everyone. They think instead about the cheesy "Forget Miller...its Jesus time" reader board they passed on the way to work this morning. Or the news report they heard about the zealots who killed ten people in an abortion clinic bombing two days ago. Or they think about the fifteen year old MTV video back up dancers washing cars for their youth group on the corner of 19th. And then they shake their heads and move on.Way to get your message out there for the masses, guys.
MISSIONAL... read the italicized paragraph again, and I think you'll see what it's supposed to mean - and what we ought to be about - and how we ought to go about building the kingdom - and how liberating it is!