Written by Lilly Lewin for Youth Specialties:
Living missionally. It’s a great idea and a concept that is hot—but not always one we take time to live out.
So what does it mean to live missionally anyway?
Missional living, for me, begins with John 1. In The Message Bible, Eugene Peterson says in verse 14:
The Word became flesh and blood,
and moved into the neighborhood.
We saw the glory with our own eyes,
the one-of-a-kind glory,
like Father, like Son,
Generous inside and out,
true from start to finish.
Living missionally begins by seeing where you live and where you hang out every day as your mission field. It means starting to live intentionally, choosing where you go and how you treat and interact with the people you see all the time. I love to tell my students that their schools, their teams, the person who shares the locker next to theirs is their mission field. That doesn’t mean handing out tracks or sharing Bible verses every day or even inviting them to youth group.
The first step of missional living is building relationships. Becoming friends with people and getting to know who they are… Being Jesus to the people in your neighborhood.
So for us, it may mean taking more time to notice the barista, the cashier at the market, the guy who runs the carwash or the dry cleaners, or the person who cuts your hair. Start by building friendships with the people you see every day, and then step beyond to notice the people on the fringe who don’t get noticed at all. The old man who walks every day, the mailman, the garbage guy, the people at the gym who don’t know what they are doing but are trying hard to use the weight machines…
Your home = your center for missional living
Do you know your neighbors? Do you have relationships with the people on your block or in your apartment building? Or do you just rush from one church event to the next one and never have time to notice who lives around you?
Your neighborhood is the place to begin…and as the weather begins to improve this spring and into summer, you have a great opportunity to begin to live out your mission to love, care, and serve. Offer to mow someone’s grass, throw a block party or cookout for the people you don’t know yet. Ask your friends to help and just have fun together.
Live into your neighborhood. Get involved in local events and local gatherings. Volunteer at the school and get to know the secretary and the principal. Take treats for the teachers’ lounge or the staff. Utilize your local businesses and make friends with the owners, the clerks, the people you see every week at the grocery store. Get in the same line each time. I have a cashier at Costco that I always wait for so I can say hi. I have begun a friendship with the woman who cuts my hair. Get to know and build a friendship with these folks who are part of your everyday life.
The goal of missional living
Being missional means seeing beyond the walls of the church building and never expecting any of these people to go there. The point isn’t to get them in a pew. The point is to go to them where they hang out and get to know what they are like and what they think about and to love them where they are. It has nothing to do with where you think they should hang out or what you think they should think about. Begin conversations. Ask about their kids, their families, what music they listen to, what teams they like to watch or sports they like to play. The goal is to LOVE THEM as Jesus… Be Jesus to them…care, serve, listen.
Don’t be in a hurry. This is a long-term, slow process. (And introverts, you‘ll just have to go slower and get there at your own pace.) If you need some other ideas, Professor Robert Tuttle’s book, Can We Talk: Sharing Your Faith in a Pre-Christian World, helped me get started. You’ll find that as you build relationships and learn about people’s stories, you will have space to begin to share your story, as well as the story of the grace and redemption of Jesus.