What is “Missional?”

I know it seems obvious, but I’m a dad all the time now.

My daughter, Paytyn, was born five months ago. She is the most beautiful thing i have ever seen. And don’t get me wrong, I love being a dad. It’s just that there is an amazing realization that has begun to sink in: I’m a dad at all moments. No matter where i am. No matter what i’m doing. No matter what i thought my priorities were or should be at the time.

The truth is i have many roles and responsibilities in my life. Any given day i may be a counselor, friend, husband, co-worker, preacher, video game buddy, computer technician, event organizer, blogger, or marshmallow eating contest director. Such is the life of a youth pastor.

But no matter what particular role i am playing each day, father is the role that i am constantly and consistently. I can no longer put down that title or role for the day. Or even for the hour. I am always somebody’s dad, no matter what else i am to many other people.

When i’m changing diapers in between church services that i am the preacher for, i am reminded that my first role is not preacher, but dad. When i’m holding my infant daughter, bouncing her in my arms as i speak to my students, it is evident that i am always daddy. As i put down the xbox controller to cradle Paytyn as she wakes up, i realize that even in my leisure i am still a dad.

I am always somebody’s dad.

It’s funny isn’t it? We so often think that our life is separated into carefully designed fragments. Work time. Home time. Friend time. Church time. But, when you’re somebody’s dad, there is a very consistent reality through every slice of that pie. You are a daddy. Regardless of what time slice you think you should be in, you are always daddy.

It reminds me that the same is true in my relationship with God. Too often, i am lulled into thinking that my spiritual life is just another of the many slices of pie that make up my life. I participate in that slice for 1.5 hours on a Sunday, and move on to the next slice.

But what if God is desiring more than just a small slice of my life? What if God wanted to invade every moment? Every role? Every responsibility? What if God didn’t want my attendance at a church service so much as He wanted to be invited into attendance in the everyday moments of my life?

In the strange book of Hosea, God explains quite clearly what He longs for most from us as people. Hosea 6:6 says, “For i desire steadfast (or consistent) love and not sacrifice, the knowledge of God rather than burnt offerings.” Or as Eugene Peterson has interpreted it, “I’m after love that lasts, not more religion. I want you to know God, not go to more prayer meetings.”

Maybe God is saying that there is very little difference between the sacred and the secular. In fact, maybe he is saying there isn’t any difference at all. He is your daddy during home time. During work time. During golf time. During any time.

The word “missional” has come to mean a lot of different things recently. It has become a popular word used by many Christians interested in being “cutting edge.” However, it isn’t really a new idea. It isn’t the newest fad in an often fad-driven church. It is an awareness of the great desire of God from the beginning.

Whatever else “Missional” means, it begins with the idea that the entire pie belongs to God, not just a single slice. It means we are approaching life with a holistic and unified mission: “to glorify God in every thing we do.” It means we are living with one identity in mind: we are always Somebody’s child.

Interestingly, “Daddy” is a title that God uses for Himself over and over again in the Bible. In the book of Hosea (particularly chapter 11), God refers to the people of God as His children. It seems that for God, whatever other role He may be involved in playing, the role of Father is always at the forefront. He is many things, but He is always “Daddy.”

And so, as i finish this blog, off to change another diaper, I know that from now on I will always be somebody’s daddy. But, even more fundamentally, in every moment i am always Somebody’s son as well.

May you find fulfillment in the wonder of your true identity. May you find that wherever you go, whatever you do, you are always the child of God. And most deeply, may you find yourself surrendering every moment of your existence to His great mission in your life.

Many others have chosen to write on the word “missional” today, click on these great blogs to read more:

Alan Hirsch
Alan Knox
Andrew Jones
Barb Peters
Bill Kinnon
Brad Brisco
Brad Grinnen
Brad Sargent
Brother Maynard
Bryan Riley
Chad Brooks
Chris Wignall
Cobus Van Wyngaard
Dave DeVries
David Best
David Fitch
David Wierzbicki
DoSi
Doug Jones
Duncan McFadzean
Erika Haub
Grace
Jamie Arpin-Ricci
Jeff McQuilkin
John Smulo
Jonathan Brink
JR Rozko
Kathy Escobar
Len Hjalmarson
Makeesha Fisher
Malcolm Lanham
Mark Berry
Mark Petersen
Mark Priddy
Michael Crane
Michael Stewart
Patrick Oden
Peggy Brown
Phil Wyman
Richard Pool
Rick Meigs
Rob Robinson
Ron Cole
Scott Marshall
Sonja Andrews
Stephen Shields
Steve Hayes
Tim Thompson
Thom Turner

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Lord, Save Us from Your Followers

Several days ago, i was walking out of a Walmart when i saw a guy standing behind some tables right beyond the door. Somehow, i hadn’t seen him going in, but i noticed him immediately as i walked out. He was, after all, hard to miss with his many political signs.

“Life in prison for all child molesters!”

“Stop destroying human life in Iraq!”

People like that intrigue me. I have some pretty strong beliefs about issues like that too, but i’ve never been outside walmart displaying my beliefs on a sign.

So, i walked up to the man to have a conversation. I was curious. I didn’t really know what he was trying to say with his signs. I wasn’t even sure whether i would agree or disagree with him. I simply wanted to talk and try to understand his perspective on these issues. Maybe, and i know this is a long shot, he would say something that would help me think about these concerns that i hadn’t considered before. I just wanted a conversation.

“You wanna sign my petition?” He asked.

“No. Not yet anyway. I was just hoping you could tell me a little bit about your perspective on these issues.”

“Well,” he replied, “if you sign this one you will be helping us get rid of all the tax that is in the cost of gasoline in the State of Washington.”

Ok. I don’t like the price of fuel, but i wasn’t really there to sign anything. I simply wanted to talk.

“What about this whole child molester thing? What is your perspective about that issue?”

He pointed to a one sentence paragraph on the top of another petition. “Just read it. It’s right there.”

The sentence said something to the effect of raising the maximum penalty for first-time child sex-predators to life in prison. But, really, i had already got that from the sign. I was looking for a little discussion on the ramifications of that and why he thought that this might be the best solution.

So getting a little frustrated, I replied, “Ok, but what is YOUR perspective on this? How would this work?”

“Look,” he said. “Your not voting for it right now. Your just signing so it gets on the ballot and we can let people vote on it later. Why don’t you sign this one over here, it’s about bringing home the troops from Iraq.”

“Well, i’m not really sure i want to sign anything right now,” I re-stated. Was he even hearing me or just repeating what he had been trained to say. “I just wanna tal-.”

“Aright, are you planning on signing anything or am i just wasting my time?” he blurted out, cutting me off and getting annoyed.

“Well, no, i don’t think i’m gonna sign anything.”

No sooner had i said those words than he turned his back to me, started setting up another part of his display and completely ignored me.

So much for conversation.

Seems like it is hard to have a real conversation with people anymore, doesn’t it? Rather than sit down and discuss complex problems such as child-molesters, fuel costs, and war and their equally complex solutions, we would often rather reduce our personal beliefs to a simple sentence and see how many people will sign off with their approval. If you don’t agree, or in my case aren’t sure, well then we just don’t have time for you.

It is no wonder we live in such a divided nation.

I suppose my interaction that day got me thinking about my own response to people around me when they aren’t in agreement with my personal beliefs or haven’t come to a solid conclusion yet. It got me thinking about church and the way we as a group deal with people who don’t see life our way, or have yet to really decide one way or the other.

Maybe I have been as guilty as this petition-guy, at not getting involved in the humble and messy endeavor of “conversation” or “dialogue” and been too quick to dismiss people. Maybe the church that i love has been too eager to do the same.

That is why a new movie that is just coming out has been so powerful to me. Now, i’m not normally in the business of promoting movies, but in this case the movie itself carries a message that i think we all need to hear.

The movie: “Lord Save us from Your Followers.www.lordsaveusthemovie.com


We recently screened this movie at our church, with the director of the movie, Dan Merchant, there to help explain and discuss what we had seen. Though I was a little nervous about the response, the packed auditorium of people gave it a standing ovation at the conclusion.

The movie is a beautiful breath of fresh air about the need for us to lose ourselves in the lives of others. To look first to the sin inside of us rather than pointing out the sin of others. And most importantly, to exercise humility, compassion and respect in having dialogue with many different people who don’t necessarily agree with any one of our own personal or religious convictions.

It was Dan’s own words this weekend that touched me most. In response to a criticism at the end he responded by saying, ” You are right, the truth does divide. But, lets just make sure it is the truth doing the dividing and not us.”

This is a great movie with a greater message. There is no way i could recommend this movie any higher. It is truly amazing and needed.

For those of you who haven’t seen it, you can screen it at the website: www.lordsaveusthemovie.com. If you have seen it and enjoyed it, there are several other resources i would recommend very highly to you along the same vein.

1) “The Myth of a Christian Nation” by Greg Boyd

2) “Jesus for President” by Shane Claiborne

These are two great books that compliment well and continue the discussion.

May we never respond to people the way the petition guy responded to me. And may we always be willing to love and respect others above ourselves.