Friday, August 27, 2010

Missional Musing: We're Not Afraid of Strangers

My friend, Cheryl, in talking about the missional journey of her congregation says, "we're no longer afraid of strangers." This is the mark of a community in mission.

One of my favorite ways to distinguish missional churches from others is that they're learning to ask a different question about others. Instead of asking the question, "how can we get others to belong to us?", missional communities are forming their life around the question, "how in Jesus' name do we belong to our neighbors?"

The first question tends to sort "prospects" around their fit with the members who are already there. We tend to look for people who will be attracted to who we already are. The rub here is that if they're already like us without being a part of our church, why would they need to belong to our church? Or, it requires people not like us to do all the adjusting.

In contrast, the question of to whom do we belong puts the "other" in the place of priority. And it requires on my part the challenge of boundary crossing. And this is the Christian story, that Christ gave up the security of heaven for our sake. And if there are Christian gifts of the Spirit, boundary crossing surely must be a part of that.

Cheryl's church is now two years into a commitment to being with strangers on their terms. They have found people of peace, developed new skills, found new partnerships in the mission of God. And in the process, they are no longer afraid of their neighbors. This is the beginning of missional wisdom.

1 comment:

Carisse said...

Mark, thanks for this hospitable post. I really appreciate it.