The Biggest Obstacle to Christians Living a Life On Mission

How God calls a Christian to live is clear and simple. You can phrase it any way you choose—engage others, share the story, live a missional life—it boils down to His call for us to live a life on mission. His mission.

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The question is why don’t more Christians choose to live this way?

I don’t just mean going to another country as a missionary, either short or long-term. I mean living life in such a way that it drives every decision you make. But what does that even look like?

How does living a life on mission impact the way you spend your money; parent your children; spend your time; who you hang out with?

Maybe you have never given that much thought. Instead you make those decisions with no consideration how they impact your ability to live a missional life. In fact, if you ever think about living a life on mission it’s only a few times a year—like the end of the year when you consider making a donation to a “good cause” for a tax break.

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5 Mistakes We Make When We “Help” The Poor

You volunteer along with many others to help make some repairs at a family’s home one Saturday. You end up sitting on the front porch listening to the mother’s story. She shares her stress over mounting medical bills that keeps her awake at night.

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You decide to spend several hundred dollars to fly to the other side of the world to spend a week working with a mission organization. You get to know a few of the local people who work along the missionaries. At a meal, you sit by one local who shares with you their passion for the work they are doing among their own people. Within the conversation you learn that they need more financial support.

You have a compassionate heart. That is why you invest your time, money and energy into helping others. And their stories tug at your heart-strings. We look at our financial means, and we want to help. We “know” we can help out of our abundance.

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How Your View of the World Affects Mission Work

We were standing around a pile on the ground of cement mix, rocks and sand. About 12 of us. Half of us from the U.S. The other half guys from this village high in the mountains of Guatemala.

Some of the local guys had just poured some water on the pile of mix in what looked like to me a strategic way. Then they stood back. Leaned on their shovels and talked. The pools of water slowly soaked into the pile. They seemed to not care.

All of us Americans began looking at each other. What are they waiting on? We are only here for a few days and we have a lot of work to do!

One of our young 20 something guys couldn’t take it any longer. He jumped at the pile with his shovel and began mixing the water into the pile as fast as he could. Another of our group joined him. They had the look of satisfaction on their faces. Now the job was getting done!

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10 Things People Do on Sundays Rather than Church—and why it matters

I can’t remember which book it was that I read, but the author challenged me to go to an IHOP (International House of Pancakes) on any Sunday morning and take a poll. Ask the diners if they considered attending church that morning. Hmmm, let me think, IHOP or church, IHOP or church…

Most would reply IHOP! Think about it—how many churches have a waiting list to get in on Sundays like your typical IHOP?

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Both Ends Burning – Stuck Trailer

In my sample chapter, The Call of a Father’s Heart, I write about our responsibility to respond to the needs of orphans. It is clear that the cries of the orphans reach the ear of God. He notices and wants us to notice. Many statistics show that over the past 10 years international adoptions into the U.S. have dropped dramatically. Both Ends Burning website states, “the current international adoption trends show an almost 60% decline in the number of children adopted since 2004.”

Many families wait 2-5 years to adopt “their” child that have remained stuck in orphanages due to bureaucracy and corruption. These are children that could be in a family now.

This video below is a trailer for the documentary Stuck. Visit Both Ends Burning to find out about showings in a city near you.

Are We Out of Balance?

My friends, Brian and Dawn, are in South Asia for about 2 weeks.  I have enjoyed their updates and the opportunity to pray for them as they travel to different parts of the region to work with different mission organizations.  Anytime someone gets to travel in another country, it potentially shakes their accepted point of view.

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courtesy of Dawn S

No matter where we are from, we have a tendency to think that we are at the center of the universe.  It reminds me of the farmer whose son returned from college.  The farmer dad had never traveled outside of his county.  His college educated son proclaimed that there was a whole world out there.  “You are not the center of the universe, Dad!”, the son complained.  The dad replied, “There is north, east, south and west.  Sure looks like I am in the center.”

This mentality inhibits our ability to see the needs of others, especially when they live on the other side of the world.  In some ways, they hardly exist in our sense of reality.

Many of these people have never heard the name of Jesus Christ.  In fact, entire groups of people have never heard His Name.

Over the past decade, the Western church focused more attention on unreached people groups.  These are people who have less than 2% of Christians in their group.  The increased focus is good.  However, I think that we are still way out of balance.

Most churches in the West focus 90% or so of their budgets on their own culture.  If the church does provide funds for missions, a large part supports short-term teams.  Again, that is a good thing.  But, the focus is really on the team, not the mission field.  And, how many churches are willing to risk sending short-term teams to the places where most of the unreached are located?

We are a risk and sacrifice averse society.

Here are some facts compiled by www.thetravelingteam.org/stats (this is in the US):

Annual Income of All Church Members: $30.5 trillion.
Annual income of Evangelical Christians is approximately $6.72 trillion.
Given to any Christian causes: $545 billion (1.8% of our income).That’s also how much we spend in America on Christmas.
Given to Missions: $31 billion, (0.1%). That’s only 5.7% of the money given to Christian causes of any kind.That’s also how much we spend in America on dieting programs.
Money that goes toward the Reached world: $26,970,000,000 (that means 87% of the money given to “Missions” goes to areas with “reached” status or access to the gospel already).
Money that goes toward Unreached Peoples: $310 million (that’s only 1% of what is given to “Missions.”).That’s also how much Americans in 2011 spent on Halloween costumes (for their pets).
The $310 million (going toward UPG’s) is only .001% of the $30.5 trillion Income of Christians. (for every $100,000 that Christians make, they give $1 to the unreached.)

 

So, what is the big deal you ask?  Here is a quote from my friend Brian,

“Our English-speaking(italics mine)guide made a comment about how the wind chimes and bells were meant to wake up the gods so they could hear the prayers.  I chuckled and asked, so why do they need to sleep?  At the end, when I paid him, I challenged him to find a god that did not sleep or slumber.  Here is a whole massive group of people depending upon gods that supposedly need to sleep and be awakened by physical sounds in order to hear prayers.”

Over 40% of people in the world today have similar beliefs.  Most of the people are in parts of the world where we send very little resources to share the good news of a God who never sleeps.  That is why I say we are out of balance.

Question for you: Do you think that God cares how we invest our resources?

 

Missional Lifestyle – Not for the Fainthearted

Missional Lifestyle.  This term has become popular in some circles in the past few decades. Many well-known authors and preachers have written, blogged and preached about this way of living.  Francis Chan, Matt Chandler, Mark Driscoll, Alan Hirsch are just a few who have.

I will leave it to guys like these to discuss the theological validity of this lifestyle.  Instead, I want to discuss some practical aspects of living missionally.  To begin, my simple definition for Missional Lifestyle is living a life that is sent.

Usually, when a person thinks of a missionary, they think about a person who is sent from their home country to live in a foreign country for sharing God with those living in the foreign country.

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But what about Christians who live in their own country?  Is it possible to live a sent life when you stay in your own country?  I think so.  It has been said before, “You do not have to move to the other side of the world to be a missionary.”

I am going to share some traits that I believe are important for someone to live a missional lifestyle.  These traits apply no matter what context you live in.  Warning – this lifestyle is not for the fainthearted!

  • Remember that this world is not our home.  No matter where we live, we are foreigners.  We are simply traveling through to our destination.  So, we should live like we are here temporarily.  One practical thing that comes to mind is avoid accumulating stuff.  We all know that we can not take it with us.  Why not invest in things that will last for eternity?
  • Live a life of integrity.  Now this is a tough one.  About ten years ago, I decided that I was tired of juggling a double life.  I want others to know me, good and bad.  I want to be the same person no matter who I am around.  So many Christians have what I call a “stage presence”.  We turn it on when we are supposed to be righteous.  Regardless of where we do life, let’s be the same person.  Allow people to know us, and the Person who is in us.
  • Live life with a sense of urgency.  We all live as if we have forever to live.  We know it is not true.  A missionary realizes that they may only be in a certain country for a short period.  So, they do not waste a lot of time on useless activities.  Also, when we are in a foreign context, our senses become sensitive to the needs of that culture.  We need a renewed awareness of the needs around us.
  • Recognize the different sub-cultures.  It is easy to see our culture as all the same.  If we look closely, we can see many cultures.  I am not talking only about ethnicity.  Missiologists refer to this as the different domains within a culture.  Government, Education, Entertainment to name a few.  Think about how the culture is different within each of these domains.  Is God sending you into one of these domains to be a missionary?

I plan to blog later on each of these points.  But, for now, I have some questions.

If you call yourself a Christian, how are you living a missional lifestyle?

If you are not a Christian, what traits do you wish to see in a Christian’s lifestyle?

Please leave comments.  I want to have more dialogue about this topic.