Vision2021 … and beyond
Missional Engagement: The Ultimate Goal
Missional Engagement is one of those catchphrases that is often thrown around contemporary Christianity that sounds cool and modern but is often misunderstood and therefore misappropriated. We believe it is more than a cool catchphrase, but a necessary and Biblical focus of any faithful church.
Missional Engagement fundamentally understands that the Bible is a story about the Missio Dei, the mission of God. It is a story of God’s prophetic plan and action to ransom “people for God from every tribe and language and people and nation” (Rev 5:9). It understands that after Christ died for sin, He opened the way for sinners to come back to God, and ascended to His throne in Heaven, where He now actively rules. It understands that this rule is manifest through Christ establishing, empowering, and sending the church into the world to be His witness by proclaiming the gospel and making disciples of all nations.
Missional Engagement is not easy, and requires immense wisdom, patience, and understanding. We live in a post Christian culture, where even the idea of one God who created all things is totally foreign. Only this week I was having an open and honest conversation with a very successful businessman regarding the Christian faith. Two things struck me: firstly, the total rejection of any consideration that there is a God and that we are accountable to Him. And the second thing, resulting from the first, is that there is no objective truth that governs the way we live. While the challenges are immense, we must never forget, the gospel both has the power to open blind eyes and soften hard hearts and is the answer to the deepest human need, reconciliation with God. In a world that is craving for belonging, I have found that showing love in the form of friendship is the first step of Missional Engagement.
Missional Engagement means walking a path that seeks to care for people but never at the expense, and always with the priority, of proclaiming the good news. It avoids one side of that path that says, “Who cares about helping the poor by providing water, food, or shelter. Just give them the gospel. That is enough!” And it avoids the other extreme that says, “Telling people that they are sinners in need of Jesus is offensive. We should be caring more for people’s wellbeing rather than preaching another sermon at them.” Missional engagement is not either/or but both/and. It understands that to “love the Lord your God … and your neighbour as yourself” (Mark 12:30-31) will mean both sharing their burden (James 2:14-17) and sharing with them the gospel (Rom 1:16).
There are many and varied paths and strategies within Missional Engagement, such as building gospel friendships with our neighbours, funding missionaries locally and overseas, strengthening missionaries on the field through prayer and visitation, joining a church plant etc, but they will always have the one primary goal: the white-hot worship of Christ. This is the ultimate end of everything in creation (Ps 96:3; Isaiah 12:4; Rom 9:17). While it is not our job to right every wrong or meet every need, though that would be good, it is our responsibility to live out and proclaim to our neighbours and to the nations the good news that Jesus Christ has come to save sinners. May the Lord help our church to be missionally engaged.