What does it mean that in following after God's purposes for our lives, we remember that as Jesus was sent to our world, so are we? Indeed, a missional church is one that is sent rather than merely one that sends. But then, how do we unfetter ourselves as apprentices and disciples of Jesus so that we can follow the uncontrolled Spirit of God?
It has been my happy task to assist the churches of a particular family 'tribe to pray, plan, respond and initiate mission, thinking and acting both locally and globally, following Jesus as best we may, wanting to get in on the blessing in what He is about. I've struggled with how to be a strategic catalyst with the goal of helping to create ethos, the birthing of a mission-movement so that many churches together in Christian community, leaders and congregants, might see themselves as active missioners. I long for holistic, Kingdom-broad presence that are signs and witness of Christ's living Presence in and through transformed leaders and churches.
The ‘so what?’ of all of our ministry is transformation of communities: transformed people through transformed local churches. We do not bring in the fullness of the Kingdom, but it will surely come when Jesus appears at the Great Day. We can, however, God helping us, set up sign-posts of this coming return (the Second Advent) and try to make folk hungry and thirsty for Kingom-coming, desiring the abundant Life Jesus brings. So I have worked with churches in the exploration and development of mission-strategies, some old and some new, responses and initiatives that reveal God's intervening grace in our world through His People. We want to be part of this, in light of the opportunities and challenges of our times - in both those issues and areas that are global and epic in nature and also in those one finds in the more immediate contexts of our churches and regions, with the people who are actually proximate to us.
So, like that Old Testament Israel tribe of Issachar, we want to be not only aware in our times but know also what to do in them. Where are the prophets among us? These times, this day, our churches need them, prophetic leaders, voices raised and lives leading in our midst. Where are the apostles among us? - those who get the big-picture realities and who can help to move us into the cutting-edge points of opportunity, in our communities. Where are the evangelists among us? (within our churches; not moving off to hold mass rallies), who will help call forth and equip, train and ‘deploy’ other evangelists from our ranks for the missional, contextual responses of local churches, who will help us ‘show and tell’ the Story of God’s Gospel-grace.
We have pastors and teachers, yes; we need them too, even more of them, those who think, research, equip us for today’s mission. Our church communities need to be led and taught by mature women and men who will bring forth from the Scriptures God's Word for today, things old and new. As faithful stewards in their leadership tasks, we need these good equippers of God’s people for such times as these. Together such leaders, with Jesus as Head, will build up the church, equipping the saints for the work of ministry.