The following is part of a workshop I taught at the Presbyterian Global Fellowship (PGF) “Gearing Up” conference in Atlanta. The content and illustrations are from life at Good Shepherd, but I was trying to identify key transferable concepts, particularly for life in smaller churches (though I hope they would transfer into any context).
I intentionally avoid using the word “missional.” It sounds like a buzzword and a fad. Plus, I was sold on being missional before I ever heard the word. (I am going to use it in this series for search purposes.)
Further, to really understand and BE missional, one has to understand the word, not just use it. It’s not enough to slap the label on a program: “we’ve renamed our men’s ministry M3: missional men’s ministry.” In order to live it, preach it, develop it, etc. you’ve got to “get it” (understand it).
At Good Shepherd, a two-fold master analogy and image emerged as I tried to internalize, embody, and communicate these themes.
LIGHTHOUSE is an image that describes God’s rescue, redemption, and calling of a people out of the dark world. The gathered community serves as a lighthouse to the surrounding community: housing the light, harboring those in need of refuge and sanctuary, and serving as a secure beacon in the midst of storm and darkness. (Clearly, if no one knows your church is on the corner, it’s hard to be a lighthouse!)
SEARCHLIGHT is an image that that describes participation in God’s mission to seek and save the lost. It is the gathered community getting up and getting out to bear the light into the dark world. I will further explore these two images in a subsequent post.
When I first encountered Presbyterian Global Fellowship (PGF) in 2006, they didn’t use the word missional either. They talked about being “inwardly strong and outwardly focused.” This is helpful: it describes to people what it means to be missional in a memorable way.Figure out how to talk about “being missional” in a way that people can understand… and then don’t stop talking about it and living it out!