“Imagine you woke up one day to discover that you had become a (long-term) missionary in a foreign land. The language, the culture, the worldview, and the values are all unfamiliar. Fortunately you are part of a team. What are you going to do?”“Everyday Church”, Page 37
For most of us, this is a hard question to answer. If we are honest, even imagining ourselves in that position starts to make us break out into a sweat. Living in a part of the world where the language is unfamiliar can be challenging enough, but the worldview and values? How could we even begin to start a conversation with anyone outside the team? And when we do, where would we start?
For me, other than a couple week-long mission trips to Mexico and Jamaica, the two biggest experiences in my life that put me outside of the comfort of home and into a new area and culture were:
1) moving into college away from the family, and
2) moving from the fast-passed, multi-ethnic, concrete filled western suburbs of Chicago to the relaxed, majority white, tree filled north woods of northern Minnesota.
I had to learn strange words like “Pokegama,” discover fishing and hunting, learn that wearing camo is normal and expected, and be surprised when stores closed by 5 pm instead of the typical 9:30 pm that I was used to. The values and even worldviews were different – which meant learning through relationships with others not only what they did, but why. In doing so, I had to learn (and re-learn) to approach every moment as if I were a missionary in my new home. I had to develop “missionary eyes.”
Yet the challenge, even for myself, is that when we become familiar with an area or culture we tend to stop approaching life like this.
“This is the situation in which the church in the west finds itself. The culture has moved on. It is not what it was a hundred years ago when I was significantly shaped by the Bible story. We need to wake up and realize we are in a missionary situation. We cannot continue to undertake mission in pastoral mode. We cannot assume people feel any need or obligation to attend church. We cannot even assume we understand the culture. We need to operate as missionaries in a foreign land.”“Everyday Church”, Page 37
Now you might be wondering, what does approaching life like a missionary have to do with community groups? Here is the bottom line: community groups are missionary groups. At their core, the call of Matthew 28 – to go and make disciples – is the mission of community groups. This includes those who already know and love Jesus and those who don’t. We will dive into this more in future weeks, but for now I want to give us all a challenge for this summer (This includes not only us as leaders but everyone in your community group!)
What if – as you’re on vacation, grabbing food from the store by the cabin, exploring a new town in a different part of the country, or even visiting family – what if you started asking these questions:
- What would it be like to be on a team as a missionary to this community?
- What values and worldview do they have?
- How might that connect with the Good News of Jesus?”
AND THEN – after practicing that on vacation – come home and imagine you were just moving into the area. What would it be like to be on a team as a missionary looking to reach this community, and what questions would you have?
Have fun with it. Share some of the questions and observations you start to notice with your group no matter how big or small – they may just spark a question in someone else in the group!
Praying for you, and keep at it!
ps. Not in a community group? Curious about what exactly a community group is all about? Give me a call or shoot me an email. I’d love to connect with you about it!