Thank you for checking out this article in the “Missing in Missional” guest blog post series. Below, I have listed links to all current “Missing in Missional” posts. Thanks again to Fred Liggin, Matt Maestas, Kathy Escobar, Gibby Espinoza, Chris Lenshyn, Michelle Funderburg, and (next week’s contributor) Charles Kiser for challenging us into Christ-formed action.
An unexpected text message from a number I didn’t recognize asking where we were meeting the upcoming Sunday: that’s how I formally met Gibby Espinoza. I’d heard of him prior, but we hadn’t connected.
I’d heard of his hunger and thirst for the Lord. I’d heard of his (ongoing) transformational journey into missional living. I’d watched his challenging video concerning the “least of these.”
Since that text, we’ve shared many prayerful conversations at Fuzzy’s or Rosa’s. The Spirit is at work…even in our Christendom-thick, Bible-belt bedroom suburban city, and The Gibster is definitely sensitive to the direction(s) of the Wind.
While living in Burleson with his wife and three boys (Congratulations @AceLovesTurtles!), Gibby’s working on the missional-incarnational life through working for the City of Fort Worth, growing in love and concern for his neighborhood, and discipling David, Morgan, and anyone else who comes along inquiring about Jesus.
Thanks, Gibby, for being an enthusiastic cheerleader for the “Missing in Missional” series, and for walking with me through valleys and over mountains.
What’s missing in missional?
Recently I searched about 15 different church websites that indicated they were a “missional church.” What I found interesting was that 5 of 10 truly were missional in their context. The 10 that remained spoke of their missions program and of “sending” missionaries to other countries for 2 weeks, 1 month, 6 months or a year. Now, at least they are “sending” people into the “mission field,” as all described the places sent. The problem with these 10 is their perspective was one of the usual missions programs, or of a church planting program that in essence was a duplication of their own church, but in another country. There were many church planting and church growth strategies, but very little dialogue about Jesus or the gospel. I’m probably in the minority, but I don’t see the missional movement as a church planting movement. I see the movement as one of being sent into a place in the world (close or far away) to immerse ourselves into a culture and plant the gospel. As Alan Hirsch says, “Plant the gospel and let the church grow around that.”
So, what do I think is missing in missional?
What’s missing is the need for leaders or pastors to not see the missional movement as a church planting movement. Rather it’s the movement of the Spirit of the Lord among a broken and deceived humanity that needs the seed of the gospel planted among them, which in-turn should lead us to making disciples that follow Jesus. Then at some point, they will identify with the mission of God by becoming a vital part of the church as it continues to plant the gospel in culture and advance the kingdom of God. One of the best current examples of this is my friends, Miguel and Claudia Labrador, living among the people in the Cloud Forest of Mindo, Ecuador.
Another thing that’s missing is the need for us to stop seeking the magic formula for being and doing missional stuff. I recently went to a one-day conference titled “Moving Beyond Missional” where Hugh Halter and Brandon Hatmaker brought the wood and smacked us upside our missional heads. It’s definitely time to move beyond missional because we understand we are a sent people. We must embrace incarnational living. This is not an easy life, but it is a simplified life where Jesus lives through us to do unto others as He would have us do to him.
Finally, I close with this. In one of her latest tweets Jen Hatmaker says, “With all the trends & strategies, don’t forget we still have the ancient ways: here is the bread & cup, the Word, simple prayers.” May we move beyond trends and strategies for planting and growing churches. May we move into our neighborhoods and live with gospel intent. May it spill over and ooze into our greater community, jobs and the world.
May we not miss the mark of missional, which leads to becoming incarnational.
*Is there truly a distinction between planting the gospel and planting churches? If so, describe it.
*For those of you who are not professional ministers, how is the incarnational life taking shape in your context?
*Gibby talks about “a simplified life where Jesus lives through us to do unto others as He would have us do to him.” What does that look like?