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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Living Imitation

I honestly don’t like imitations. Every morning for breakfast, i have two eggo waffles and a cup of coffee. Pretty healthy, right? Well, i did recently switch to low-fat nutri-grain waffles. But, as much as i love this breakfast, just try and switch out my eggos for some cheap store brand version and i’ll flip out. They just don’t taste the same.

lucky_charmsI didn’t always eat that for breakfast, though. I remember being a little kid and only wanting to eat Lucky Charms! Remember those? I’d still buy them today if i didn’t look like such a kid when the cashier rings them up. Although, i am having a baby soon…maybe i can sneak them in that way! The problem was my mom was cheap. She didn’t like paying the price of Lucky Charms. So instead she would come home with some Malt-o-meal version of them like “Treasure Marshmellows.” But, you know as well as me that they weren’t quite the same.

I guess that is why when i came across Ephesians 5:1 the other day it kinda bothered me. I’ve read it a hundred times before, but only this time did i realize that i didn’t really like it. It says, “Therefore, be imitators of God…” And if there is anything that i don’t want to be it is a cheap imitation!

I suppose i feel like there is a lot of that out there already, you know? People pretending to be one thing. Imposters. Phonies. Knock-offs. Especially Christians. Doesn’t it seem like every time you turn around you meet someone that is only a cheap imposter of who Jesus was and is? In fact, i am embarrassed to identify myself as a christian most of the time because of all the “imitators” out there.

And yet, Ephesians 5:1 is clearly calling us to be “imitators of God.”

So, i looked in the mirror several weeks ago. And instead of seeing my amazingly handsome, young face looking back, for the briefest of moments, i saw my dad peering back at me. It was strange. It was only for a second, but i could have sworn i saw his face in the mirror i was looking into. And it occurred to me, i am becoming like my dad. In fact, i’ve been a little worried about this before. My hair is turning grey in spots. My abs are reverting from their chiseled beauty to the famous Loyd belly. But, it isn’t just physical. I was talking the other day and i caught myself saying something that my dad always used to say to me growing up. I was sitting in my office when it dawned on me that i have the same profession (if you wanna call it that) as my dad. I took a look around my office and realized my collection of books is catching up to his. But, it isn’t just that either. I was explaining some theology the other day and realized that i approach a lot of my critical thinking the way my dad does. I was counseling someone and noticed i was offering advice my dad has offered to me. In short, i am starting to look, think, act, and enjoy things that are the same as my dad.

Wow! I have tried many times to not be like my dad. Not that he is a bad guy (he is actually a phenomenal man), but because i have wanted to be my own. And yet, whether i want it or not, i have spent so much time with him and have been so influenced by his guidance in my life that i am starting to look like him. In fact, the other day, somebody came up to me and said. “i see a lot of your dad in you.”

I wonder if this is what Paul meant in Ephesians 5:1. What if he didn’t mean a cheap imitation at all? What if he meant that we are to be so absorbed in the relationship with our Creator that we would find ourselves simply thinking and loving and feeling and acting like Him? As if our DNA was being rewritten with His. What if He wasn’t calling for imposters, but for children who grow up with the imprint of their dad.

And so, i now want to be an “imitator.” I want my life to be shadowed by the Divine. I want my life to slowly start to mirror the image of God. I want people at the end of my days to say, “I saw a lot of his God in him.”

Living Imitation.