The missional movement will die in the next five years.
Several years ago, Mike Breen predicted that the missional movement would fail because it is a mission devoid of discipleship. I wholeheartedly agree. We have disconnected our life for God from our life with God.
The People in Your Church Do Not Care
But there’s another reason why the missional movement will fail. The people in your church do not care about the missional movement. Look, I know you’ve preached on missional living and wired your small groups to reach your city. And my guess is that you have some pretty cool stories about ways your church has served the city. You very well might have seen a person here or there come to faith in Christ.
Walk with me through your church. Think about the men and women and families whom you preached to last Sunday. Write down the names of everyone on the launch team of your church plant. How many of them woke up on Monday morning thinking about missional living? Fair to say the number is somewhere south of 50 percent?
That’s frustrating, isn’t it? You have been banging the drum about missionary living and all you have to show for it are the same stories you told this time last year. You have swung the biggest homiletical sledgehammer you can find and all you have been able to do is to put a dent into the brick wall of our neighborhoods and cities. Your strategy for infiltrating your city with outward-facing missional communities looked great on paper but in reality is limping impotently into the summer.
What Your People Woke Up Caring About
What we have not been able to overcome is that our people have more pressing concerns than a new strategy to transform their neighborhood. When they wake up on Monday mornings, what occupies their attention are the schedules of their children and the looming deadline of that project at work. Their focus is on their job—in the home or in the marketplace.
Here’s a question. When is the last time you spent time helping people connect their faith to their work? Where in your discipleship plan do you teach that vocation (the various and holistic callings that God has placed upon our lives) is integral, not incidental, to the kingdom of God? Does your conception of the mission of God carry out the conviction that the primary venue for missional living is our jobs?
Ordinary Life for Everyday Christians
Forget the global church. Let’s talk about your church. The missional movement will be a distant memory five years from now if it is disconnected from the ordinary lives of everyday Christians. The average worker in your church will spend 100,000 hours of their life doing work. Over that same period of time, an active person in your church will spend around 10,000 hours in church environments (weekly gatherings and small groups).
You can do the math. But have you worked that piece of arithmetic into the discipleship plan of your church?
If you believe that ‘every member is a missionary,’ then help them integrate their life with God into a life for God through their work. Or you can ignore the most time-consuming part of people’s lives and miss the opportunity to see a movement of missionaries spread across your city and out into the world.
Do the Next Right Thing
Sometimes the next right thing is to listen and pray. One of God’s great gifts to us as pastors and planters is books. In our church’s leadership development program, we incorporate four books to help people integrate faith and work:
- Every Good Endeavor by Tim Keller
- Kingdom Calling by Amy Sherman
- Visions of Vocation by Steve Garber
- Work Matters by Tom Nelson
If the centrality of vocation is a new idea to you, pick up a copy of Keller’s book and read it with at least one member of your leadership team. If you are looking for ideas on how to work this into your church’s discipleship plan, then start with Sherman and work through it with at least one member of your leadership team.
Vocation is integral to the mission of God. Where does that disconnect from your theology and practice as a church?