My family and I vacationed at St. Simons Island, GA last week. While walking around the pier area, we come across as a little store called Go Fish® Clothing and Jewelry. I was intrigued by the name so I went in to take a look around. I was immediately struck by the contemporary “Christian” music that was being played overhead. As I walked around I noticed there were many different kinds of handmade items from artisans from all corners of the globe. These items ranged from hand-crafted wooden animals, blown glass figurines, hand-made clothing, and all kinds of jewelry. Alongside each display was a portrait of the family that had made the product and a description of where they lived. Go Fish® purchases their items that are sold in stores from indigenous peoples of developing nations. Prices paid for the items are never debated and their goods are bought at their asking price. Galatians 6:10 is the company’s motivating verse. The intent of Go Fish® is to give these indigenous people the dignity and respect of they deserve by highlighting their creativity and skill while providing a sustainable livelihood for the individual family. I found it refreshing that in the midst of shops that were selling everything from surfboards to swimsuits, there was a company being a missionary in the place they were planted. You can read more about Go Fish® and their work here.
The purpose of Missional Monday is to raise awareness for and to encourage conversation (whether here or elsewhere) around the need for Christ followers and churches to be missionaries where they are. I have my own thoughts about the subject but there are other voices speaking more loudly that you should listen to. Periodically, I will connect the readers here to others who are speaking on this subject. Enjoy.
Read: I recommend Ed Stetzer and David Putnam’s book, “Breaking the Missional Code; Your Church Can Become a Missionary in Your Community”. They have put together a great resource for understanding how to mine out the uniqueness of your community.
Follow: Micah Fries. Micah is VP of Lifeway Research. He is a former pastor and church planter. Micah is a strong and passionate voice for living missionally. I read behind him on a regular basis. You can find him here.
Know: Blood:Water Mission – A grassroots organization that empowers communities to work together against the HIV/AIDS and water crises in Africa. You can find more about their work here.
Last August, Port Royal Baptist Church had the privilege to participate in a community event known as National Night Out. National Night Out is an initiative to develop and promote crime-prevention programs in neighborhoods involving watch groups, law enforcement agencies, churches, non-profit organizations, businesses, and individuals working toward one simple goal: safer and stronger communities. Our church had been seeking a way to gain entry into the multi-housing community that adjoins our property. We approached the property manager with this initiative and were welcomed with open arms.
This is how it works. A church, business, or non-profit organization identifies a neighborhood to “adopt”. Local law enforcement and fire departments are brought in to share the anti-crime and safety message. Through this initiative, foundational partnerships are formed that lead to future opportunities of ministry and involvement. Port Royal Baptist will host a block party (bounce house, popcorn, sno-cones, etc.) including a cookout. The property manager will provide the space, power, and internal promotion to more than 100 family units. Port Royal Police Department, Beaufort County Sheriff’s Department, and Beaufort County Fire Department will provide staff and resources from their departments to communicate their anti-crime message, while showing a side of their work that most of the communities never get to see. On August 6th, 2013, we will all come together again to do our individual part in collectively making sure our community knows that we care about them.
Earlier I mentioned foundations for future involvement. From the church standpoint, we have had the privilege to minister in other ways. Because of a “non-church” event, we have been allowed to come back to host “church” events including those related to Easter and Vacation Bible School. I believe we were able to carry out the purpose of the church because we built trust and earned the right to minister. How did we do this? How can you do the same thing?
1. We took advantage of a secular event in order to lay the groundwork for ministry. Check your community calendars and involve your church in those events. I wrote about the importance of merging church and community calendars. You can read that post here.
2. We earnestly believe that our community is our responsibility, not someone else’s. Remember, missional is not about doing. It is all about being. Don’t allow someone else to be the missionary to your community.
3. We were not afraid to be told “no”. You should not be either. Pray, identify, and ask. We were told “no” in this particular multi-housing unit once before.
In October of this year I, along with two other member of Port Royal Baptist Church (Joyce Bunton, Judy Greenlee), will take part in MissionsFEST Atlanta. This trip is the result of a partnership between South Carolina Baptist Convention Missions Mobilization, National WMU (Women’s Missionary Union), Georgia WMU, and the UACP (Urban Atlanta Church Planter’s) Network. The UACP is a cooperative effort to engage lostness through the planting of intentionally reproducing churches with the I-285 perimeter of Atlanta. Individuals and churches who participate in MissionsFEST work alongside church planters who active in reaching neighborhoods with the I-285 loop where over 100 different languages are spoken. Events and projects are designed to demonstrate the love of Christ in real and tangible ways that allow bridges to be built for future gospel conversations. Some of the week’s projects include block parties, service ministries, prayer walking, and light construction work.
We are looking at this trip as more than just an opportunity to help church planters with the enormous task of reaching their community. We are viewing this time in Atlanta as a vision trip for Port Royal Baptist Church. Every spring we sponsor a state-side mission trip for our congregation. As we seek the Lord’s guidance as to the coming year’s destination, we are praying He uses this week to open doors for future ministry. As in any trip, meeting, or conference I attend, certain hopes are always present. My hopes for this trip are as follows.
1. It is my hope that we will create partnerships for future service. As I mentioned above, we hope to be able to discern the needs of the church planters and determine if our congregation would be a fit in Atlanta.
2. It is my hope that I will be personally challenged. I believe that many of us minister within a bubble of safety. That is not always our fault, just a result of where we are. I hope to be stretched and challenged to do ministry that I never have and among people I never have.
3. It is my hope that we will learn new methods and practices for our own local ministry. Our church is very active and present in our community. I am hoping that some of what we experience in Atlanta will give us fresh ideas for reaching Port Royal.
Today’s post is the first in a new Monday series entitled “Missional Monday”. I would like to begin by defining and giving some attention to the word “missional”. Missional is a word that has come of use over the past eight or ten years in evangelical churches and denominational research. The term missional has a somewhat fluid definition and is more of a descriptor than an event or activity. While missiology is the study about missions and its methodologies, missional is a mindset. Missional is a way of thinking. In its simplest terms, missional thinking focuses the believer and the church on doing missions everywhere. It is holistic rather than programmic.
By the very definition of the word, it is impossible for the church to do missional. Instead, it is critical for the church today to be missional. Missional thinking causes the church to take a hard and prayerful look at how missions is viewed. A church with a missions program usually sees missions as one activity alongside other activities in the church. A missional church focuses all of its activities around its participation in God’s vision in the world. Instead of viewing missions as crossing sea as something that we go and do, missional thinking leads us to see the cross and to live as sent people; right where we are. This leads to a question that will help us gauge where we are individually and as the body of Christ. Do you see yourself as a participant in a mission program or as a missionary living within your own mission field? In his book, Breaking the Missional Code, Ed Stetzer wrote, “If we are going to join God on his mission, we have to recognize that we are missionaries…wherever he places us – just like the first disciples”.
I enjoy writing. I enjoy sharing my experiences with others. Sharing what God is doing in my life as a pastor, husband, father, and student is the reason why I started The Road Less Traveled. Personally, I need structure. I need a schedule. I need something to keep me on track and focused. I guess that you could say that I need routine in my life. I don’t function well in its absence. Ask my wife. I order to be more disciplined in the craft that I love; writing, I am putting a sense of structure in place here. I hope to follow this “schedule”.
Monday. I will begin a new blog series entitled Missional Mondays. Each week I will share a story, church missions project, an article, a resource, or highlight some missions organization that is making a kingdom difference.
Tuesday. I am dedicating Tuesdays to book reviews. I enjoy reading immensely. I review books for several publishing companies (Thomas Nelson, Tyndale, Waterbrook Press, and Bethany House to name a few). To keep a sense of order and expectation, I’ll post my reviews on Tuesday unless the review calls for a certain date.
Wednesday. Throughout the course of my reading, both recreational and in sermon preparation, I come across words that are “worth repeating”. Wednesdays will be dedicated to this discovery.
Thursday. Random thoughts. Maybe.
Friday. I enjoy giving away books that I have been given to me. As I have the opportunity, I will continue Free Book Fridays. I will also continue my devotional thoughts as a part of Friday is for Scripture.
Saturday and Sunday. Random thoughts. Maybe.
It is my prayer that you will be encouraged, blessed, challenged, enlightened, or inspired by something you read here at The Road Less Traveled. Thanks for stopping by.