Get Off the Bus!

bwaOne of the ways I’m trying to help people understand this whole “missional church” concept is by talking about the mission trip our youth took to Slovakia last summer.

When we finally got off the plane in Poland, exhausted from an overnight flight, we got on two big, beautiful tour buses and made our way to Ruzomberok, Slovakia, some four hours away.  Most of us slept along the way, and when we got to our hotel in Ruzomberok we were able to stay awake just long enough to eat some dinner before trudging upstairs, brushing our teeth, and falling into bed.

We slept with the windows open, breathing fresh, mountain air, and most of us woke up feeling deliciously rested and wonderfully alive.  We had a big breakfast in the dining room where there was plenty of food and plenty of hot coffee.  By eight o’clock we were ready to go to the job site—an orphange in town that had acquired a house next door and needed someone to clean it out and fix it up.  We had our morning devotions, said a prayer, and then got onto the buses, rolled into town, and pulled up in front of the orphanage.  Every person on the bus had been assigned to a work crew, and each crew had a leader.  Within minutes of our arrival the demolition crew was demolishing an old barn, the painting crew was painting an old fence, the grounds crew was pulling weeds from an overgrown flower bed, and the fencing crew was sizing up the job of building a new fence.

We worked all morning, right up until lunch, and then we went back to work that afternoon.  For the better part of four days these youth and their adult chaperones worked as if their lives depended on getting that house into good shape for those orphans.

I couldn’t have been any prouder.

That experience serves as a useful metaphor for understanding the missional church, because instead of thinking of church as that place where we come to worship and study and enjoy Christian fellowship we begin to think of church as those people who roll up their sleeves and take part in God’s mission to the world.  There will be times when we simply need rest (as we did after our long journey).  There will be times when we need nourishment, both physical and spiritual (as we did the next morning).  There will be times when we need to organize ourselves around the tasks at hand (as we did before getting off the bus).  And there will be times when we need to put our hands to the work, and make a real difference in the world (as we did at that orphanage).

In and around all that activity are those rich opportunities for fellowship—for getting to know each other and coming to love each other.  On that trip we laughed, we cried, we sang, we danced, and by the end of the trip we had not only done good work and worshiped the living God, but forged unbreakable bonds with one another.

Now, that’s what the church ought to be, and it ought to be true that it doesn’t only happen on once-in-a-lifetime mission trips.  It ought to be part of our everyday experience as the church of Jesus Christ.  So, maybe we could begin to understand that we are on a mission trip, right now.  The bus that we have been riding has brought us to Richmond, Virginia.  And having rested, and eaten, and said our prayers, it’s time to get off the bus, and get to work.

Who’s with me?

Bonus Feature!  See video of the Slovakia mission trip by clicking HERE.

2 thoughts on “Get Off the Bus!

  1. I think you’ll find there are a lot of us, Jim, who are delighted to exercise a new perspective on our daily lives — for the many years I’ve been privileged to be part of the FBC family, there’re always those who pitch right in and get going. The leadership and followship opportunities that are here will keep us busy easily for the rest of our lives, and in the process, make a HUGE difference in some others. By whatever name we’re called, I believe FBC has been “missional” all along — perhaps just not as explicit in its labelling! Happy working together!
    Betty Ann

  2. It’s all about the journey-

    With such interesting blogs that appear on this website every week, it is difficult to keep silent. I find that references to a bus ride are interesting, because life is often like a train ride or a bus ride. People get on with you, they like the view, if the road is bumpy or mundane, they get off.

    You make friends on the bus, and you find that the trip is much more joyful when you have companions that make the dark times lighter, the sunrises brighter. And the driver sees to it that no peril will befall you.

    You know your friends, and you rejoice in life. You see them taking a completely different route, perhaps they are going on side streets that you know are dead-ends, but you go on. Your bus driver or conductor guides you safely on, and you wonder what will the end of the line be like.

    Sometimes those you love want to ride in a different section of the bus. You don’t like it, but you keep your seat. Maybe they return to sit next to you. There they go, catching a different ride. WOW!! They’re back, none the worse, or you never see them again and are overcome with the wonder of it all. The ride has good times and bad, and the journey is long for many of us. Others have only a short ride.

    So the end of the line is ahead of us, and the bus ride leaves a lot to be desired. How can one make a difference between the moment of getting on the bus and the moment you arrive at the end of the line? What shall we do? How shall we do?The minutes. hours, days turn into weeks, years, decades. Energy, that source of power within- without, beckons you to act, to experience, to lead.

    June Masters Bacher writes in her book THE QUIET HEART , “Today is the day for the dictates of your heart. It is God’s gift, the chrysalis of eternity. There is no statement more shocking than: ‘I do not know what to do with my time.’ ”

    Milton assures, “Hours have wings and fly up to the Author of time and carry news of our usage. All our prayers cannot entreat one of them either to return or to slacken its pace. The misspents of every minute are a new record against us in heaven. Surely if we all thought thus, we would dismiss them with better reports and not suffer them to fly upward empty-handed.”

    With a staff at First Baptist that leads by example, it is timely and urgent to get off the bus, go on the smooth streets as well as the uneven, unexpected byways and follow the lead that is so generously and faithfully given us. Let’s get off the bus. We are with you. The journey is what you make it.

    It’s all about the journey.

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