If mission is the what, context is the where.
Considering the confusion we so often experience around clearly defining mission, it’s no wonder that identifying our mission context is so difficult.
Our mission is to be disciples, who make disciples, for the glory of God. That is true wherever we are. But how do we identify the context in which we live out this mission? And for those of us who have clearly identified our context for mission, how are we helping others do the same?
There are plenty of challenges in this process.
Listening for Direction
The first is simply that we do not tend to spend time listening to God for clear direction. What happens all to frequently, is that we catch a small glimpse of where God is leading us and then tune him out as we make plans and start plugging away. It is like trying to give driving directions to someone going on a trip from Tacoma to Washington, DC and all they listened to was “head East.”
Now you might respond to this, “God only told Abram to go West.” But that’s not what God said. God said to “go to the land I will show you” (Genesis 12:1). There is an on-going guidance and listening taking place there. How would Abram have known where to stop if he wasn’t listening to God along the way?
While the destination matters I’ve found that the journey is just as important and sometimes more so.
If someone comes and says they believe they are supposed to work with kids what do we do? Do we just plug them into the kids ministry schedule and hope for the best? Or do we pray with them about the best place to start, which still might be the kids ministry on Sundays. Then, do we follow up to see how things are going, to talk about what they’re learning from God and if God has provided any more direction or clarity in their work with kids?
What about someone looking to move into a neighborhood because God has been leading them there? How different would it be if we spent time praying, not just about moving into the neighborhood, but also asking for clear direction about what block to move onto?
Spending time with God, listening for clear direction is not a one-time occurrence. Scripture is clear that this in an ongoing process. It is something we must be doing each and every day. And the more we develop that habit as the Spirit works in our lives the more clearly we will see and understand our context.
Another challenge we face in identifying our context is one of perspective.
Through prayer, spending time reading scripture and with our small groups we are hopefully listening both backward and forward. We are looking back at how things once were or forward at how they could be. Sometimes we take that same approach with how we look at life. It’s a part of our gospel story, looking back at how our lives started, seeing the impact of sin and hopefully salvation then looking forward to the completion of God’s restorative work in our lives.
But if we fail to use that perspective to see where we are right now how much are we missing? Right now, where and how does your story intersect with God’s? The things you care about, the giftings you have… Odds are, these are all in use to some degree in what you are already doing.
Stop and think. If God is truly great and sovereign over all things, all of those things could be for his purpose and glory.
Pastor Jon often says that if you woke up this morning it’s a sign that God is not finished with you. This also means that wherever you are at today, whether its work, school, home, the gym… God is present in each one of those places and is at work in you and each person around you. So consider what God might do through you where you are at today. Consider how He might use you as a disciple to point others around you to Him. Consider why He has you there today. He has you there for a reason.
** image by SethtotheBrown