How are we doing?
I asked that question in staff meeting last week partly because I had read an article in the Religious Herald that suggested some churches that call themselves “missional” really aren’t; they have simply given new names to the same old things they have always done.
“Is that us?” I asked.
The staff said no, and they gave specific examples. They said we seem to be getting it that it’s not our mission, it’s God’s, and we get to be part of it; that the mission field is not only “over there” somewhere, but also “right here” where we are; and that if we join God in his mission to love and serve the world that makes us missionaries.
It was that last part that got my attention.
We talked about church members who seem to be thinking of themselves more and more as missionaries. The things they have done on mission trips in faraway places they are now doing right here at home. Vicki Pope, for example, who has been to Helena, Arkansas, several times, is currently serving as a liaison between First Baptist Church and Essex Village Apartments, where there are 544 children, most of them in single-parent homes. They remind her very much of the children she has worked with in Helena. When Steve Blanchard needed to know something recently he sent email to Vicki, who called the social worker at Essex Village and got an answer back to Steve in 12 minutes. It’s becoming clear to Steve that Vicki doesn’t just go on mission trips from time to time: Vicki is a missionary, and Essex Village is her mission field.
That inspired me. I thought, “What if we took a picture of every member of First Baptist Church and posted it in the hallway, along with a caption that read, ‘This is what a missionary looks like’? Would that change our self-perception? Would we stop thinking of ourselves as members (which country clubs have), and start thinking of ourselves as missionaries?”
Take this simple test: the next time you look in a mirror say to yourself, “This is what a missionary looks like.” If you can believe it we will be well on our way to becoming a truly missional church, and several steps closer to bringing the Kingdom of Heaven to Richmond, Virginia.