Eastside's 2014-2015 Vision: Me, a Missionary!
One of the best psychological tactics the Devil has used on the Christian Church is the evangelism commercial he regularly runs in our hearts. Have you seen it? Picture an extrovert, knocking on a stranger’s door without a bead of sweat on his brow, saying all the right things about God at all the right times, quoting the perfect Bible verse for every question…and not leaving until the whole house is baptized.
Then, the not-so-fine print appears on the screen: Trained professional. Do not try this at home.
You’ve seen that commercial, right? Or maybe just believed its message.
After all, evangelism (aka "sharing the good news about Jesus") is for people like that, isn’t it? The people who know more about the Bible. The people who aren’t scared to bring up spiritual topics. The people who don’t sweat profusely before inviting someone to church. The people who are not such introverts. The people who don’t struggle or have doubts like you do. You know, those people. The professionals. The pastors. The real missionaries.
But the majority of us question, "Me, a Missionary?" Definitely not.
However, the stories I hear about people coming to church and coming to faith in Jesus don’t involve "trained professionals". They come from all sorts of people who, combined, have zero theology degrees. Their "mission work" didn’t start on stranger’s doorsteps, but on second shifts and across dinner tables. Just "normal" people doing "natural" things in "natural" places with supernatural purpose and power.
That’s just how Jesus likes it.
Jesus loves to take every kind of Christian, fill them full with forgiveness, and unleash them on the world. The quiet kids and the loud-mouths. The educated and the drop-outs. The squeaky clean and the notoriously known. The founding member and the recently confirmed. Pastors like me. People like you. Yes, you!
Because to reach everyone, God needs everyone. I can’t work where all of you work, live where all of you live, shop where all of you shop, or eat where all of you eat (as much as I’d like to try!). And, even if I did, my personality wouldn’t fit with all those people God is trying to reach with the good news of his Son. Instead, the Holy Spirit uses each of us, with the unique gifts he has precisely chosen for us, and places us in the exact places he wants us to be for the exact purpose he wants to carry out.
You see, what I personally can’t do, we communally can. That’s what this vision is all about, getting every last member of Eastside Lutheran to see themselves as a missionary, a forgiven child sent by the Father to this world he loved enough to send his only Son. If we shut off the Devil’s commercial, stop questioning "Me, a Missionary?", and start declaring, "Me, a Missionary!", we can make that vision more than a vision, but a reality!
Please don’t forget the reason why. The Christian faith is not so much about good rules, but about good news. A God who loves the world. A Savior who takes our burdens, our fears, our guilt, our sin. A Lord who conquered death so we wouldn’t be afraid to die. A Father who uses every struggle for some glorious purpose. A God who accepts us and loves us and likes us because of what Jesus did. Every Christian knows how stunningly beautiful this good news is.
What’s even more stunning is that God’s good news is for the whole world. Some people just don’t know it yet…
So, Eastside, get ready for a year of going to less-than-exotic places - Your library, Cost Cutters, your cubicle, your niece’s 6th birthday party at Bouncytown, your condo association meeting, your staff retreat, your local McDonald’s (okay, maybe I’ll cover this last one).
Get ready for a year of loving less-than-exotic people - Your librarian, your stylist, your direct report, your sister, the couple two houses down, your boss, the waitress, the shift manager.
Get ready for a year of less-than-commercial-worthy activities - Listening, loving, remembering names, baking cakes, shoveling driveways, making small talk, extending invitations, sharing simple, but eternity-shifting truths.
And get ready for a new purpose - To love unconditionally and connect someone God’s loves to the God who loves them.
In other words, get ready to exclaim - Me, a Missionary!