Unveiling the profound concept of incarnational mission, this blog delves into our recent ongoing coaching call's discussion insights that are reshaping our approach to living out the mission of Jesus. It's more than just inviting church; it's an exploration of tangible and intentional mission practices that challenge norms and redefine our God-centered perspective. Contrasting the attractional and incarnational approaches, we emphasize the need for the church to be a space where people belong and experience the gospel before hearing it. Through vivid portrayals of Jesus' postures – proximity, presence, powerlessness, and proclamation – the blog offers a practical roadmap for individuals to mirror the transformative power of Jesus in their own missions. This isn't your typical blog; it's an invitation to a revolutionary way of living out the Gospel beyond Sundays. Are you ready to embark on this transformative journey of alongside Lord Jesus? Let's dive in!
"It's not so much that the church has a mission, it's that the mission of God has a church." - Alan Hirsch
Living out the mission is where our faith meets the real world, a natural and deliberate process of embodying the Gospel among people. It involves living among, listening to, and loving others in our culture, connecting them to our Christian community. However, this journey is not without challenges as we grapple with the tension between Sunday morning and everyday living. To immerse ourselves in this tension, we must first be immersed in God.
The term "mission" is often narrowly or broadly defined, causing frustration within churches. To narrow of a definition and Christians can be alienated from one championed approach like "cold contact campus evangelism", but too broad of a definition and everything mysteriously becomes mission to the point that nothing really is. To avoid these pitfalls, it's crucial to establish a clear and balanced understanding. Mission, derived from the Latin "missio" means "to send." It's the task on which the church is sent into the world, a passage over the boundary between faith in Jesus and its absence. To avoid extremes, we need to unpack and define mission, ensuring it aligns with our calling. To do this, we must explore the incarnation. After all without the incarnation of Christ, His ministry and mission never would have existed.
"Again Jesus said, “Peace be with you! As the Father has sent [missioned] me, I am [missioning] sending you.” - John 20:21
The Critical Role of Incarnation:
Taking inspiration from John 1, we delve into "His Way" of doing mission. Incarnation, meaning "to take on flesh," goes beyond the act of going; it delves into how we go and what people perceive as we go. It encapsulates our posture, tone, motives, and heart. Crucially, incarnation determines whether people want to know not just about us but about our God. It's envisioning Jesus walking into your room, saying, "Come on, get up, and come with me," and pondering where he might take you.
"The Word became flesh [incarnated] and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth." - John 1:14
The essence of the incarnational approach lies in people experiencing the good news before hearing it. Much like harsh words spoken without tact, an emphasis on missionality without a thoughtful approach can hinder rather than help the cause of Christ. This is where the inseparable twin, incarnational, comes into play – embodying the Gospel in how we go about our lives. Recentering mission as the result of God's initiative, rooted in His purposes, is essential. The missional-incarnational approach involves embodying the Gospel, mirroring Jesus' way of entering the world. This approach, unlike the attractional model, doesn't focus solely on drawing people to church but emphasizes engaging in the broader culture.
Posturing After Jesus:
Calibrating ourselves based on Jesus' mission, rather than the church's, is paramount. "The church does not have a mission, the mission of God has a church." Understanding how Jesus did His mission is vital. His servant-hearted, sacrificial love proclaimed the Kingdom of God. To take up the mantle of a servant, we must meet people's needs, find opportunities to disciple, and go after the lost like a shepherd. By centering on who Jesus is, we find our mission and the right expression of church. What can we learn about God's methods, and how can we, both individually and as a church, align ourselves with these divine approaches?
To live out the mission, we must continually learn what it means to "re-Jesus," going back to the founder of the church. By embracing the missional-incarnational approach, we participate in God's purposes, allowing Him to lead us into the various spheres of our culture.
The Four P's of Incarnational Living:
*Adapted from Jeremy Stevens
Please use these discussion questions in your discipleship times to better posture yourself off Jesus
- Moving in and getting close to the people we are called to love.
- Ideas: Weekly porch parties, walking regularly, working from a café, and discovering natural gathering points.
Where do you live work learn and play? How can you begin to be inspired to see this as a place of disciple making?
Where do the people you are called to gather and connect? How can you enter those spaces with them on a more frequently?
How can we encourage/challenge each other to jump fences and get close to those we are called to reach?
- Going beyond proximity to engage in a meaningful way.
- Ideas: Intentional questions, meaningful conversations, and becoming good listeners to the dreams and pain of people.
What are a few good spiritual and/or meaningful questions to have on hand?
How can you make space to be present (without agenda) with the folks you are called to reach?
How can we help each other have meaningful presence in our mission field?
- Demonstrating vulnerability and sharing needs.
- Ideas: Asking for help, sharing uncertainties, and becoming comfortable saying, "I don't know."
What places of vulnerability can you share with those we are called to reach? Are there places you can appropriately ask for help?
How can we encourage each other to be vulnerable with people we are trying to reach?
- Demonstrating with words the hope of Jesus.
- Ideas: Sharing biblical interpretations, and speaking about God's heart for justice, restoration, and healing.
Thinking about those we are called to reach, what are obvious areas where we can proclaim God's love? How can we share without coming across as "religious" but rather we are proclaiming God's good news authentically from our hearts?
How can we disciple each other to grow as proclaimers of the good news of the kingdom?
More on incarnational mission: