In the summer of 2006 Alexis and I moved 3,000 miles to Tacoma, WA. As we packed up our things and left friends and family, we felt sent. Jesus said that the Father sent him and now he was sending us (John 20:21). Jesus commissioned us with all the authority of heaven and earth (Matthew 28). Five years later, and a church established, we feel more sent now than ever.
I am convinced that the key to unlocking kingdom advancement and church growth is living ‘sent’. We often think of only overseas missionaries or church planters as being sent. This mindset has made kingdom advancement in our neighborhoods feel like we’re driving around with the emergency break on. One of the great lies that has stunted the church is that some are sent and some stay. The truth is that every person who has trusted their lives to Jesus is not only saved, but also sent.
Once we understand that we are sent, it’s time for us to be intentional missionaries. Surprisingly, this is less complicated than it seems. In fact, it can be as simple as praying this simple prayer in every aspect of our lives: “Father, include me in what you’re doing here.”
Intentionally living ‘sent’ means being purposeful in our work, hobbies, recreation, and rest. Alexis and I, with our three boys, will oftentimes go for walks in our neighborhood with the intention of having family time, some rest, and hopefully encounter someone God has prepared beforehand for us to meet.
As a ‘full-time church leader’ I become envious of people who work with unbelievers for 40-60 hours a week. They are able to share life with unbelievers, to hear their joys and sorrows, to hear their passions and disappointments, and then be able to share their own stories. One may serve coworkers by getting them a cup of coffee, encouraging them in their daily tasks and even taking the opportunity to pray for them when they express hurt and dissatisfaction with their lives. These are some simple, yet powerful ways to be intentional about living sent in the workplace.
The reality is that we are not just residents of a neighborhood; we are sent to that neighborhood. We are not just employees of a company; we are sent to that company. We are not just students at school; we are sent to that school.
So, where do we begin? In your small group, or with a group of people from your church that live in your neighborhood, begin to have this conversation: What are the greatest needs in our neighborhood? How can we meet these needs? How can we invite the unchurched in our neighborhood to help us meet these needs?
It could be that a school needs help, a garden needs upkeep, the homeless need to be fed, etc. As we invite unbelievers to help, we will see God’s kingdom break into our neighborhoods in the form of justice and righteousness. We will also begin to see God’s kingdom break into hearts with salvation and joy.