What should our “posture” be toward the current way the “church” lives out its life? Should we take a stance of condemnation, indifference, antagonism…should we be arguing structures, size, the Sunday “presentation”, or staff? Both authors remark, and I might add correctly and faithfully so, that we must begin with our own lives. We must truly start not with all the things that we perceive must “change” if we are to begin to live missionally…rather we must adjust our minds to be those of missionaries.
Starting with the mission field – we must look at the assumptions, experiences, worldviews and emotions of people that represent those to whom we are going to attempt to reach. At the heart of “missional” is the understanding that we are sent…instead of focusing on attracting people to our buildings, programs, and gatherings, we must focus on the fact that we are to primarily “go”. Going not with a sense of spiritual arrogance, pride or insensitivity but with a renewed sense and dedication to the fact that we are NOW the contemporary incarnation of the presence of God in our world. To quote the Hugh and Matt:
“…missional sentness is focused on leaving and everything related to going but incarnational represents how we go and what we do as we go. God could have sent his son by asking him to set up a web site and download spiritual information to every billboard in the world. But apparently he knew that information about him doesn’t help people understand or love him. So the ONLY option for the Father and for us is to embody the concept.”
Our posture? Well, it can’t be solely about truth or what we say we believe…our posture needs to be about helping people want to hear the truth. Our posture can either “obscure the truth or enhance and pave the way for a clear rendering of the truth.” The most important thing is whether or not people are “attracted to the truth, drawn into the truth, and able to understand and receive the truth”. Again, the authors clarify this point by saying the following…
“Because we found ourselves emotionally attracted to you all, we couldn’t preach at you. We knew you needed time to process your faith, and the only way to help you understand the big picture was to stay with you longer. We knew the message would make more sense if you saw it in our lives (paraphrase of 1 Thes. 2:7-8)…in our network, we specifically ask people not to try to be evangelistic. We suggest to them if people aren’t asking about their lives, then we haven’t postured our faith well enough or long enough. We’re observing that every story of conversion and transformation happened without anyone being approached with a message. The message certainly has gotten out not as our main priority but as our gentle response to their curiosity…when the posture is wrong, you’ll always be perceived to be an enemy or a judge. When your posture is correct, you’ll be perceived to be an advocate…”
Somebody once said, “preach the Gospel at all times…if necessary, use words”. Here’s a question for you to process in terms of your “posture” – “if you could no longer use words to communicate the gospel, what would you do?