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Ash Wednesday

 
 
Coming to Grips with Reality: How is Jesus Messing with You?
 
I’m finding that Jesus is messing with a lot of us.
 
There is a growing sense among the U.S. Christians I am talking with that Jesus is on the move, that He’s messing with our presumptions, calling us to something more than what we have settled for. He is giving many of us a holy discontent with the status quo so that we will look up from what we are doing, pay attention to Him and start to wrestle with what He is currently showing us and asking of us.
 
In a remarkably short amount of time, the U.S. has become one of the largest mission fields on the planet. We are no longer a church who is servicing a community filled with a variety of Christians. We are now a church who finds itself needing to be a missionary in a mission field. And we weren’t trained for that.
Our congregations’ mindset and practices are perfectly calibrated for a U.S. culture that is essentially already gone. The church I grew up in, in the 1960’s and 1970’s, was well suited for the largely churched culture that existed in the U.S. at that time. However, in the ensuing decades the U.S. has dramatically shifted from a “churched culture” (where most people go to church or at least know they should go to church) to a “mission field” (where the majority of people do not go to church or feel an obligation to do so). The trouble, of course, is that most churches and church-goers continue to think and operate as if the U.S. culture is still essentially churched and looking for a church home. And they aren’t.
 
This is why so many churches across the country are struggling. The good news is that Jesus isn’t struggling and He knows exactly what to do next. In fact, He is already showing us and leading us into His response. In the midst of our unsettled and uncertain world, Jesus is not wringing His hands in worry. He is not confused or discouraged. He is God. And while some of our churchy presumptions and programs may be in trouble, His Church is not. Jesus is very clever. He is using these shifting
times to wake us up and get us ready to re-join Him on His redemptive mission to our neighborhoods, workplaces and schools.
Joining Jesus on His redemptive mission is what I mean by the term “missional living.” “Missional living” is simply living each day as if it were a mission trip. The difference, of course, is that instead of being on a mission trip to a foreign land, we are on a mission trip to our own community. We are Neighborhood Missionaries. Going out to get the mail, going to the store for a gallon of milk or going to the school to pick up our kids now has mission potential.
But don’t worry. Joining Jesus on His mission is easier than we think and a lot more fun! Joining Jesus is not another layer of busyness on top of an already insane schedule. Living missionally simply requires a new “missional” mindset – in other words, we begin to think of ourselves as Neighborhood Missionaries – and to put some new “missional” practices into play along the way. Joining Jesus’ mission is not so much about changing the whole church as it is about changing our own mindset and practices and inviting a few friends to come with us.
 
Like my good friend Gary Faith often says, “If we always do what we’ve always done, we’ll always get what we’ve always
gotten.” If there was a day when that was acceptable for the U.S. church, it is now gone. Instead, it is time for Jesus’ Church to take up the mindset of a missionary with a few missional practices so that, by God’s grace, we will get new
mission-results.
 
Old mindset, old practices, old results. New mindset, new practices, new results. Makes sense. Are you ready to take up the missional mindset and practices that will put you into position to join Jesus on His redemptive mission every day?
 
Let the adventure begin.