Jody Janz has worked faithfully alongside me in ministry for the past several years. She and her family are good friends of ours and they understand the concept of relational discipleship like few others. Jody’s heart for missions and her gift for writing will bless you as they have blessed me. –Brandon
My family and I were missionaries in South Africa for eight years. I had many opportunities to see God do amazing things in the lives of the Tswana people. I remember one day I brought a big bag of shoes to give away in a certain village. Although I didn’t do this every week, occasionally, I would come with something to share with the ladies in my group. That particular morning, as I was handing out the shoes, the woman who hosted our group started praising God for His provision. The day before, she had given her shoes to someone else, and she saw these shoes as a blessing from God.
The word “missional” has been floating around lately. I assumed I knew exactly what it meant. After all, I had been a missionary overseas. I was surprised to find out, though, that the word has many meanings, and according to whom you talk to, many applications.
The definition that intrigued me the most was this. Being missional is following Jesus into the world. Now, I know what you’re saying. Yes, of course it means that. After all, we are disciples of Jesus. And you know what? You’re right. We are Jesus’ disciples. This definition, as simple as it is, takes it a bit farther, though. It not only says we are to follow Jesus, but it also tells us where. We are to follow Him into the world.
I get visions in my head about following Jesus into the world. I see Him leading us in the charge to go out there and fight for what’s right. I see the Great Commission that tells us to go make disciples of all nations. I see us living, loving, and serving for Jesus.
There’s more to it than that, though, right? Something I read recently caused me to think about how to apply all this to my life. When Jesus was on the earth, He met people’s needs, AS HE CAME TO THEM. He didn’t wait and go have a meeting with His disciples. He didn’t start a cause and persuade people to join in. He just met the need.
Now, don’t get me wrong, the causes and organizations that help people in need are wonderful, and so often, overlooked for their contribution to our communities. I guess I’m looking a little closer to home here. For me personally, how am I “missional?” When I’m at Walmart, do I help the grandma trying to load her groceries in her car? Do I give a loaf of bread to a homeless person and then tell her about the Bread of Life? Do I drop my own kids off at church and go pick up a family with a broken down car so they can come to church too? Do I meet the needs of the people who come into my path to the best of my abilities? Do I at least take the opportunity to pray with someone when there is a need I cannot physically meet on my own? All these ideas and more are, to me, what this elusive word “missional” means.
One thing I do know. We can’t simply follow Jesus and stay where we are. There’s a destination in mind. We must follow Him all the way into the world.