A few years ago I was struggling to recover my passion for ministry. I was burned out, stressed out, and worn out from all of the responsibilities, needy people, and the emotional drain from my day-to-day work. On top of my ministry responsibilities, I was trying to be a good husband to my wife and companion to my friends. It just wasn’t working. It was over the next year or so that I rediscovered my passion, not for ministry per se, but for mission. I came to the realization that I was never meant to be a pastor as much as I was meant to be a missionary. In the wake of that discovery, God awakened in me a passion for the city I live in today. Once I gave in to that passion, a new season of adventure began.
This brings things to you. You want to make the world different, but in today’s culture, impacting the world can be confusing. You might be wondering, “How can I do this?” or “Where do I begin?”
I get that. You may be in a similar place to where I was a few years ago. You were born to live your life as a missionary, but generating a passion for mission and figuring out what that exactly looks like can be tough. How, exactly, does a person live like a missionary in a culture where being Christian is sometimes assumed?
That’s where I’d like to propose something different. Instead of asking how, I suggest asking where. If you can determine where God is calling you, the how will take care of itself.
Our culture has certain pillars of influence–“circles”– that can tip the scales of movements. If you want to make your world different, start in one of these four circles:
There is perhaps no circle of influence more talked about than education. Every election cycle, it is one of the top issues. In addition, it plays a huge role in where you choose to live, who you spend your time with, and the career you find yourself in today. Consider investing time in a local school where ideas are formed and the next generation is shaped. For example, you could challenge your small group to rally around a local elementary school by tutoring students, showing appreciation to teachers, and reaching out to the parents in the school zone. You can serve the school as volunteers in the PTO, non-faculty coaches, and lunch buddies. Each month, you can mobilize your small group for a service project. This could be a beautification project, block party, sporting event, school play, or graduation.
Every rising culture has the arts at the center of its surge towards influence. The arts leads the way in innovation and creation. What if you reached artists by pursuing a specific artistic people group? For example, you could adopt a community theater where you audition and perform, attend performances, all along the way building relationships with the actors and actresses. You could also adopt authors, painters, or songwriters. Each month, you can mobilize your small group for a project or event in which you host a writer’s night, art installation, songwriter’s guild, authors meet up, or one-act play.
In a world of hurt and brokenness, God has called his people to join Him in bringing restoration. What would happen if you took up a justice cause to fight for the weak and marginalized of your society? For example, your small group could adopt a local rescue mission where group members serve meals, clean bathrooms, plant gardens, and build relationships with at-risk people. You could also partner with a non-profit organization to fight sex trafficking, alleviate poverty, or serve widows and orphans. The possibilities are endless. Again, the point is to be good news so that, in time, you can share The Good News.
Bringing it back home (literally), one of the simplest yet most effective places where you can live as a missionary and make a difference is in your neighborhood. Ask yourself, “What if, when Jesus said to love our neighbor, he actually meant our literal neighbor?” Get your small group to adopt a specific neighborhood (possibly yours) where it builds relationships with the residents and finds ways to serve the neighbors in visible, tangible ways. You could even mobilize your group for a monthly service project by serving the neighborhood through block parties, hosting backyard Bible clubs and VBSs, creating neighborhood gardens, throwing “chalk the block” events, etc.
As a missionary, God is calling you to embed yourself into your culture so you can be the hands and feet of Jesus. There are a lot of places where you can live as a missionary. Don’t fall victim to the “Go wide” temptation. If you spread yourself too thin, you will find yourself unable to invest deeply. So instead, find a single mission field and invest deeply there. God will honor your focus.
I am a husband, speaker, church planter, and coach. I help people and pastors with big dreams learn how to awaken God’s dream for their lives so they can have a lasting and meaningful impact on the world.