More than 2,000 years of missions history give us valuable examples of how to intentionally live a missional lifestyle. While the word missional is not recognized by the dictionary, missional embodies the heart behind the actions of a true follower of Christ.
1. The early church teaches us that meeting intentionally to worship and pray results in knowing God’s purposes.
When the church in Antioch met together, they were told to set apart Barnabas and Paul for God’s work. When we intentionally focus on worshipping and praying together, we understand God’s purpose, just as the early church did, and we see in Acts that His heart is missional. In Intentional Living, Dr. Mullins says, “Embracing God’s character leads us to join God in redeeming people from sin, redeeming people from bondage, and all other issues that are at the heart of God’s concern.” What do our prayer meetings look like? Do they look like the meeting mentioned in Acts 13:3?
2. From the early centuries of missions we learn that Christianity often grows under persecution.
The Encyclopedia of Southern Baptists tells us that Christianity grew under the persecution of Christians from about A.D. 180 to 325. A visit to Vietnam, China, Iran, or Pakistan may open our eyes to how Christianity grows under persecution today. Closer to home, we may notice how popular it is becoming among Western nations to portray those who hold to Christian beliefs as ignorant. This is not a time for Christians to become apathetic to living intentionally for Christ. Keeping ourselves spiritually fit by spending time daily in prayer, as well as reading and meditating on God’s Word, allows God to transform us. Do we intentionally spend time allowing God to refresh us so that we can remain strong when we face persecution?
3. The Early Modern Era teaches us to study the Bible ourselves, to know what it says, and to know what we believe.
The scholar William Tyndale knew several languages and could have led a comfortable life, yet he was compelled to give others the opportunity to know Christ’s message personally. He translated the Bible into English and lost his life as a result. Missionaries today continue to help translate Scripture so that all people can read God’s Word for themselves. Do we live a missional lifestyle? Do we follow Tyndale’s example to help others read the Bible for themselves?
4. Missionaries in the Great Century of Missions teach us that our worldviews may need to be challenged in order to overcome barriers and live missionally.
Many believe that a great awakening occurred and people yearned to share the gospel with people of other nations. Given the hardships of overseas travel at the time (around 1792 until the end of the 1800s), missionaries intended to give their lives to tell others about Jesus without the thought of returning to their homelands. They would learn other languages, adapt to other cultures, and learn about other customs. If we are to share Christ’s love, we will be more effective when we allow God to challenge our views that may be based on our own culture. Are we willing to challenge our worldview in order to share the gospel with people from other cultures?
5. In the Global Century of Missions we learn to equip the nations to live a missional lifestyle.
During this time period, believers began to focus on unreached people groups. Evangelists pondered how the whole world could be reached by translating the Bible and by training leaders who would then lead their own nations to God. Instead of creating a Western religion, there was a new sense of cultural sensitivity, in which nationals could worship in a culturally appropriate way. How are we equipping our next generation to live a missional lifestyle? What leaders are we intentionally training?
History is in the making today. What will today’s digital world teach us? Are we using all of the resources we have to intentionally share Christ’s love? Even though it’s a small world, we must be intentional if we hope to have future generations lead a missional lifestyle.
Join us for the online course Missional Living: A History of Missions and How It Impacts Missional Living Today , which begins November 1.
Claudia Johnson, CWLC Leadership Consultant