On April 27th, 2011 I was obese. According to my Body Mass Index, weighing in at a husky 250 pounds at my height (6’2″) slid me right into the obese category. Over the next nine months I worked hard, counting every calorie consumed and burned, and lost 65 pounds! Now, quite a while later, I’ve gained back 5 of those pounds, but I’m convinced that most of that is muscle!
In case you were curious, here’s some pictorial evidence. On the left is me at 250 pounds and on the right is me at 190 pounds!
The purpose of this post, however, is not just to pat myself on my back for my weight loss. Instead it’s to share some of the lessons I learned and apply them to being a missionally postured, incarnationally activated follower of Jesus. This is Part One and there will be more parts to come periodically.
So, what is the first lesson? Be Intentional.
Losing weight, for me at least, did not just happen. It required a great deal of effort and purposefulness.
Getting to 250 pounds just happened though! That was easy! But losing the weight (and keeping it off) has been a process that has been difficult for me at times. I’m not a person who plans things out carefully by nature. I prefer to live life by the seat of my pants! But doing so led me down a path to obesity.
So, with some effort, some support from my amazing wife Alida (along with my family and friends), and some patience, I lost the weight. I made a plan and I stuck to it. I knew exactly what I was shooting for and I had figured out the best way for me to reach my goals.
How does this apply to being missional?
I’m so glad you asked! In the American church we have just been “doing church” now for quite some time. We figured that discipleship was just going to happen, that evangelism was just going to happen, and that leadership development was just going to happen.
Where has that gotten us? Well, by almost any standard you’d like to use, we have a great vacuum of actively-growing disciples in the church. Evangelism for many of us has become something only the very few and very, very brave engage in, since we’ve narrowly defined it as going up to a stranger and trying to reason them or scare them or persuade them into saying the sinner’s prayer. And we have a great need for more dedicated, trained, and passionate leaders.
In other words, we’re in trouble.
What can we do? Well, we can start by being intentional! Just like I had to sit down and come up with a plan in order to lose weight, we need to strategize together about how best to reach this mission field called America. And whatever our plan is, it can’t be just a repackaging of our old methods. That’s what I tried when I was 250 pounds. All it did was keep me fat.
It’s my assertion that if we keep on doing the same things as the church, then we’ll keep getting the same results. It’s well passed time that we try some new methods of discipling up, reaching out, and worshiping well. The ramifications of us continuing to waste time are simply too dire. We must change!
There are a thousand things we could begin to be more intentional about, but here’s an “easy” one. Let’s stop thinking about and talking about the church as a building where we go to consume religious goods and services and instead let’s start thinking about and talking about being the church among those who need the good news. This small shift can make a huge difference!
What are some other ways that we could be more intentional as missional followers of Jesus? Let me know in the comments below!