Like everything worthwhile in life, becoming more missional requires us to prepare. Does that mean that we have to be rigid? Of course not! But it does mean that we need to be thoughtful as we begin to live like a missionary.
Let me illustrate this:
My parents are visiting us for Thanksgiving. We’ve had such a great time so far! I’m so grateful for them and their love for us! One of the realities when they visit, however, is that we need to prepare; we need to get ready for their arrival if we want to be hospitable.
What does that look like? Well, this time around it meant Alida (my wife) and I carefully planning out our meals, including our Thanksgiving feast (which was a-ma-zing!). It also means that we need to plan a few things to do. We don’t want to fill our schedule up, because we want to have some time to just hang with my parents, but we do want to do a few things. So this year we planned to go to a stage production and on a movie studio tour. We’ve already had a blast, and I hope it’s going to continue! And part of the reason this is true is that Alida and I planned well.
What then does this have to do with being on mission as a follower of Jesus? Well, in my opinion, being on mission requires intentionality. We usually won’t just fall into being more missional! We need to plan for it and then we need to carry out those plans!
Here are a few ways to prepare to be on mission:
- Seek the Lord’s Guidance: The centrality of prayer can’t be focused upon enough! We must connect with God and ask him how and where he wants us to be on mission. If we go out in our own power, then we are setting up a situation where we are the ones who will get all the praise. Instead, let’s ask the Lord in prayer what he wants for us, and then let’s follow through with our actions.
- Build a Support Base: Before going out on mission it’s important to have a solid team of folks who are behind you and with you. These can be obvious people, like your friends and family, or you could reach out and ask a missional person whom you respect but don’t know all that well to mentor you through this process. Whichever way you go, hear this: Don’t go alone!
- Seek Guidance: There’s an old adage that applies here: Don’t try to reinvent the wheel! There are tons of people who have walked down this path before you. Read books by missional thinkers (I suggest the following to start: Tangible Kingdom, AND, and The Forgotten Ways. Another thing to do is to ask missionary-minded people whom you know what their lives look like on a day-to-day basis. Don’t be shy to ask this! You’d be surprised how willing people are to share and how honored they’ll be that you asked!
- Read about Jesus Constantly: Our best example of living missionally is in the life of Jesus himself. So, read Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John often. Read them however makes sense to you. Here’s what I’ve been doing lately: I read one story at a time (you can cheat and use the headings in your Bible!) and then I write down any insights that I feel the Spirit speaking into my life about how to be on mission with the risen Jesus in my own life. This is a simple method, but it has proven very effective!
- Assess Your Circles: Who are you connected to? Who are your friends? If you’re like me, then you might find yourself completely encircled by followers of Jesus. This is a great thing! But it makes it a bit hard to be on mission if everyone around you already knows Jesus! So, think carefully about how you might inject yourself into different contexts in order to become friends with those who don’t yet know Jesus. One way that I’ve been experimenting with lately is playing pick-up basketball at a local gym. There are hundreds of other ways. Be creative!
There are lots of other ways to prepare to be on mission. Can you think of any? Let me know in the comments below!