I have this facebook account (more or less to keep in touch with friends from my undergraduate schooling). There are different suggested areas in which you can comment in your profile, one being Religious status. Since I am all about a relationship and vehemently oppose the idea of a religious gathering, I chose to write “Missional.” The reason for my choosing this status is simply because that is what I believe God has called us to; a missional lifestyle of reaching out to those in our community (believers and the stranger) as Jesus did during His life and ministry on this earth. Being missional is not a statement as it is more a way of living. It is a choice to live as a ‘missionary’ in one’s community, place of work, place of worship, and within one’s home. We are all called to live a missional life as believers in Christ. It is something in which I have decided to take very seriously to the best of my ability.
For almost two years, I have worked as a server in a very ‘white, middle class’ restaurant established in 1983 as a premier shopping and eating establishment in Bucks County, PA. A restaurant that boasts 6.5 million a year, with 130,000 guest to match, Peddler’s Village is a grand experience many have come to enjoy over many years. It is in this setting, I have been called for a season to work as unto the Lord and provide meaningful and exceedingly great service while working my way through seminary at Biblical Theological Seminary.
No matter where one works professionally (unless it is in a ministry role), it can be quite difficult to maintain an attitude that shows forth the love of Christ. There are days in which I wonder what my actions towards certain individuals would be if my life was not the Lord’s. For now, this is the community in which I live and work.
It has taken me awhile to realize why I am there. At first, I thought my reason for working there was solely in order to meet the demanding bills, which never seem to get either smaller or fewer. I have come to learn through some amazing experiences and through the Word of God, that my calling to work at this place is primarily missional in nature.
Since I have been at this restaurant, God has allowed me to be intentionally missional with my fellow teammate and with a wide-variety of clientele that has walked through our doors. I have met a variety of Christians along the way (not many but a few) and have made time to encourage them in their walk with God. I have challenged a few to think missional and have even suggested different websites and books to explore.
My greatest joys have come not from fellow Christians I have met (though it is a joy to know we are out there) but have come from my interaction with those who are not. When I am joyous in attitude, attentive to their needs, and pleasant to assist, God has used these to open up conversations about death, life, sin, judgment, hate, homosexuality, premarital sex, abortion, politics, and other thought provoking conversations. I have been asked to pray for people’s family members, who are sick with cancer or ‘keep in my thoughts,’ as some call it, a friend who is in need of support.
At the end of the day, I wonder why God has given me these people to share my life with. I wonder, when I could have been put anywhere, God selected me to live a missional life where I am.
From co-workers, to managers, to guests and other staff, I have had many opportunities to open up doors of conversation to provoke the matter between their ears on subjects and challenge their own thoughts regarding a wide variety of issues most people shy away from at their profession. If it is done in love, any question can be asked. If presented with a meaningful and genuine desire to know something, most are always willing to share. If we want to engage in meaningful conversations and be intentionally missional, we must be willing to cross a line we have for so long been taught to never cross. We must be willing to get our hands dirty even when our protocol is to maintain a safe distance. If we are not willing to have direct conversation with others, I do not think we are living, as the Lord would have us live.
This does not mean that we take in our 25 lb KJV Bible and start throwing it in people’s faces, telling them to repent of their sins or else they will go to hell. This does not mean that we put ‘tracts’ in people’s coat pockets when they are not watching in hopes that they will read it and not disregard it and place it in the trash. It means we make a decision that we are going to love those we work with and become genuinely concerned with who they are. We live among them and accept them as individuals in need of grace (much like us). And, to the best of our abilities, we provoke them with honest questions, and engage in real conversation about tough matters, always respecting their thoughts even if they do not match up to ours.
The challenge is simple in theory but will always be a work-in-progress in practice: Consider your place of community (work, family, the place you shop, your hair cutter, your butcher, your gas station attendant, your next door neighbor) as your missional ‘mission field.’ As God to show you how to live missional in your community and love those who are difficult to love. In this way, we are living out, in a small part, the commandment of Jesus. We can be like Jesus to others if we are willing to do the work. I believe we are able to do it efficiently and effectively. Let’s get to work!