“Yes, come” Jesus said and Peter got out of the boat and started walking toward Jesus… Matthew 14:29
There is a ton of books out there in ‘ChristianLand’ about being missional. Quite simply they do a heck of a job creating good, solid theological foundations for why it is important to be in tune with a God who seeks redemption and restoration for this world. But if you are anything like me, you will read a bunch of literature on being missional and will eventually be frustrated with all the theoretical’ness’ about it. A lot of it works toward describing the theological foundations but comes up a short on the practicable. Sometimes theory will leave one overwhelmed and wondering what the next step will be.
Here is the tip of the day for those wanting to be missional practitioners: Baby steps.
It’s easier than you think. It doesn’t take an elaborate day of visioning for you or your church leadership to embark on an epic missional adventure (cue Lord of the Rings music). Start with the small. In the movie “what about Bob?” the main character Bob, a paranoid schizophrenic played by Bill Murray is freaking out because he needs to get onto a bus. He is terrified. He keeps saying to himself, “baby steps onto the bus, baby steps onto the bus.” Eventually his ‘baby steps’ lead him onto the bus. Overwhelmed with the daunting task ahead, he focused on the tiny little steps he needed to take to get on the bus. Thanks to his shrink, Dr. Leo Marvin, he simplified things with his baby steps. Don’t overcomplicate missionality.
Have a conversation over the fence with your neighbour about, well, anything. Walk your dog, and when you come across other dog owners on your walk, while the dogs sniff each other, try to talk about something other than the weather. Find out where the people in your area serve, and connect with them there. Let your neighbour borrow your lawn mower. Better yet, mow your neighbours lawn if you think they’ll be cool with it. These baby steps are the beginnings of relationships which is where people share in the nitty gritty of life together. Which is right where God wants to be.
Start reading books about people doing stuff and how they have been learning from their actions. Find books that will equip you with the means by which to reflect theologically on your experiences and move you into deeper participation with what God is doing in your context. This is where the literature on missional theology needs to be headed. Setting theological foundations was necessary and there are some classic books out there that firmly acknowledged that missional theology is not merely a movement but connects us with a significant part of the Trinitarian God. Important stuff, but please, let us move into a season of reflective practice and start pumping out missional practitioners. Let us learn from what people are doing and be inspired to do stuff in our contexts. This how people will learn about what being missional is about, not from some book that you will give them. Kierkegaard once wrote “life is lived forwards and understood backwards.” Write a journal about your experiences, blog about it, converse with others about what is going on and take a position of learning grounded in participatory action with God, and connect with others who are doing the same. In the action, you will be transformed by the God with whom you are participating with. By doing and wrestling with issues of practicality you will ‘be’ missional.
So if you find yourself on the brink of doing stuff but are overwhelmed, or even feeling a bit intimidated. Remember “what about Bob?” and baby steps. But don’t forget to take a look back and see how you got to where you are.