What is Missional Living?

“Missional Living” has been a phrase or theme that has been popping up in my world and my thoughts for the past year!  Our church, Northside Christian, just redid its vision statement “Making Disciplines Who Are Making Disciplines” and launched “Life on Mission, Equipping You to Live Missionally Every Day.”  When I ask my friends “What is mission?”, a typical response is a 1-2 week trip out of country or another state.   So I decided to ask a slightly different question, “What is missional living?”  I appreciated that a dozen plus friends responded, and quite frankly their answers were within the range of what I expected.   A mission is not necessarily missional living, but missional living can certainly include a mission.   Below are a sampling of the descriptions:

  • “Awaking reach day ‘ready to serve.’ And every now and then driving or flying to experience God’s beauty while serving the smallest needs. When done correctly love, compassion and understanding are felt by all involved.”  (Darin Dillon)
  • “The Corporal Works of Mercy are acts by which we help our neighbors with their material and physical needs: feed the hungry, give drink to the thirsty, clothe the naked, shelter the homeless, visit the sick, visit the imprisoned, bury the dead….When you do any of these things I believe you are living a missional life.” (Mark Halleck)
  • “Missional living…is considering the value of things and people…I am less wasteful and make a smaller footprint, both geographically and as a consumer, when I am being a good steward of my blessings. It also makes me more conscious of the depth of my connections.  I don’t want to be only involved at the surface.  I prefer deeper relationships.”  (Casey DeShazo)
  • “Missional living is pursuing Christ in everything we do and showing love and grace to everyone we come in contact with. This can be in your home, on your street, in your city, or even around the world.  Missional living is actively choosing to reflect Christ every day.”  (Jenna Scott)
  • “Spreading God’s word via one’s Godly given strengths.” (Ish Medeles)
  • “…trying to connect the calling and purposes God has given me to the threads of my everyday life. I believe these threads need to intersect at work, at church, at home, in my private time with God and with everyone I meet.  I try to draw connections between what are ‘opportunities’ for me and what are ‘appointments’…God directing me in His purpose and the opportunities…..are often detours that can distract my time and energy from His appointment.”  (Dayna Hardee)
  • “…it is living life like God wants us to live, thinking and caring for others less fortunate than we are.” (Jane Phleger)
  • “Exposing the awe of God and His creation within the reality of daily life…but it needs to be done through an attitude of gratefulness and with the heart of a servant for His glory.” (Craig Washburn)
  • “…missional living is radical stewardship of your life! … using your time, talents and treasures to your utmost ability.” (Gloria Bouknight)
  • “…living the lifestyle of a spirit-filled believer.” (Mohamed Chmayssani)

Thank you to everyone who took the time to respond even if I did not have enough space to share all the heart-felt words.  Since I have asked this question, it is only fair that I share my thoughts to this question; however, I warn you as the writer, I will take the liberty of using more than a few sentences to explore this subject.

In its simplest form “missional living” is “purposeful living”—a substitution of the word “purposeful” or “with purpose” for “missional.”  Purposeful living means to live each day with INTENTION—the intention to (1) serve others in whatever capacity the will help them grow in their personal identity in Christ and fulfill their life purpose and (2) love God, our almighty creator.  Service may come in the form of (1) relief such repairing a well pump in a village which does not have clean water or in the form of (2) restoration such as counseling a teenager after a poor decision spelled disaster or in the form of (3) development such as conducting an interactive business workshop in a third world country to help a struggling business owner with skills to improve his business performance.    My conclusion is:

Missional = Intentional Purpose

God intentionally put each one of us on this earth for a purpose, and if we are going to realize our purpose we must move intentionally through life.   Easier said than done, I know.  It took me 48 years to find Christ and realize I had a true purpose.  But now that I know, I have no excuse.  And it’s still not easy.  So let me help with what I believe is a myth buster for those who seem blocked to action, because they don’t know if a move is in accordance with God’s plan.   Here’s the myth:  God has a plan for your life.  Truth: God has a purpose for your life. 

I have heard people use the excuse for inaction or indecision based on the need to pray about it and see if it was part of God’s plan.  Without His confirming word, they chose not to act.  Believe me I’m not knocking prayer!  I pray every day for wisdom, encouragement, discernment, protection, health and blessings for friends, family and people across the globe.   I don’t believe God has a plan for our lives, but He has a purpose for our lives.  He gave us free-will to act, to plan, to obey, and to disobey if we choose.  I don’t think God has planned out the nitty gritty details of our lives such as whether we should go on a short-term mission trip, because He trusts and honors us to move in our purpose and gifting.

God has no boundaries, so neither do I.   God gave me the gift of administration.  God also gave me a purpose: coaching future leaders to crush their limiting beliefs, love who they are and discover their true purpose and identity in Christ.  Bundle all those pieces together and it’s not surprising that you find me organizing mission trips to third world countries and taking people along for the ride as just one expression of my purpose.

Once you have purpose, just move—just do it!  I bet you have God’s blessing.  If you don’t yet know your purpose, just move!  When you start are moving, God will guide you, opening and shutting doors that allow you to flourish in your gifting and purpose.  God is with you but he’s not planning every step you take!  He made us creative human beings, and I believe He takes joy in seeing what we create within our purpose.  I can visualize the smile on God’s face when we just move, even if we are just trying to figure it out.

Think of a child learning to ride a two-wheeler for the first time.  God’s hand is holding the back of the seat cushion, making sure you don’t fall over until you have the confidence and ability to ride all by yourself, but He is always there, perhaps running along side you as you pedal and eventually watching you ride down the street with His arms by His side and a big grin on his face—just like a parent.

Does any of my message ring of truth for you?  I realize this entry my bristle a few feathers in some people, so I would like to leave you with these thoughts.  First, my intention is not to offend—remember being offended is a personal choice and reaction—but to stir and challenge your thoughts.  My second intention is not to change your mind, but to encourage you to consider what missional living feels, tastes, and sounds like in your life.  You, my friends, each have a high level definition of missional living, but how is that expressed in your life?  Would love to hear from you!