Our little corner of the world, Yondersea Men’s Grooming and our cozy little apartment above we call the Sea Loft are more than just spaces for living and working. To us they are an expression of our faith as Christ Followers and extensions of our desire to live life ‘on mission.’ We call them Missional Outposts. I sort of stole the term and modified it from denominational history. ;;
Since I hung that title and displayed it for everyone who cares to look, I thought I should explain what I think a missional outpost is or should be. I am not an authority and this isn’t the ultimate truth. This is just what we experience. The one thing I have to make perfectly clear; I did not plan this out. It happened. Maybe more believer stuff should just happen. Maybe it does. That is the sort of stuff I like to be around. Its cozy, warm, and human. I have tried to do stuff in the past. Good stuff motivated by good intentions. Never really worked for me, so this organic, home grown type of believer stuff will have to do anyway.
To Be Missional meant we had to have a mission
Well duh? OK, ours started out with a personal mission of being fiercely committed to loving God and loving folks (Mark 12:30-31) Believing that I was disqualified from ever serving in “a ministry” I was still committed to granting God full access to my life to use “in ministering” however He would choose. Since recent events had eliminated all distractions like a house, a car, or a job, it was easy to change things up. I chose to align my work life in such a way as it would allow maximum availability. I chose a career path that was accessible, scalable, and portable. The training and licensing requirements were accessible. It was something that I reasonable thought that I could do, and there was a universal demand for those services.
To be missional meant we needed to position ourselves on the frontier
One thing I struggled with for years is the thought that the best place for me to exercise my ministry gifts is inside the church, both the organization and the building. Since that no longer seemed a possibility I took my gifts to the edge of the world of unbelief. I applied my trade and allowed my gifts to flow through that to the people that trade brought into my presence. I like the mission statement of Christ The King Community Church; To create an authentic Christian community that effectively reaches out to unchurched people with love, acceptance and forgiveness so that they may experience the joy of salvation and a purposeful life of discipleship. They do that by attracting the unchurched to their place of doing ministry, and it is working. We do that by going out into the marketplace and going to them and that seems to be working as well.
To be missional meant we needed to be self sustaining
Our mission is not something done in addition to our trade, our mission is the reason behind it. No one was particularly interested in hiring a failed and divorced pastor to work in their church, nor was there any great clamor to throw money at the idea of being a missionary to America. Not that I asked, I just assumed. Still, it worked out just fine being self supporting. The results often take a long time to bring about. All the while we still want to continue eating semi regular meals and sleeping indoors. Our trade supports those habits and allows us to continue using our lives in service to Christ and leaves us to try whatever means we come up with to accomplish mission.
To be missional means we keep everything on the ground level.
Even in the most welcoming of churches there is a visible hierarchy. Even the unchurched can see that pastors seem to occupy the higher seats, progressing down through the various servants, the regular to casual members, with the unchurched visitor being on the bottom. Some churches do such a great job of hospitality and negate the negative perception of the hierarchy, but it is still there and obvious. I think being missional takes away the hierarchy. Everyone who enters our missional outpost is on equal footing with those of us who provide our services. It feels safer that way.
Being missional means being committed to community.
Community is both relational as well as geographical. Community consists of people in relationship, doing life together. Being missional requires relationship. It is not optional. Access to lives is not assumed, it is earned. Relationship grants us access to speak into hearts when the time is right. We don;;t ever feel like we have to check off the “witnessing” box. Relationship allows the time for hearts to open and allows events to unfold to speak Spirit words into.
Being missional, living life on mission and surrendering your life completely to mission is a hard choice in most cases. Like I said, I had nothing left to loose. It took that much for me to give myself over to this thing. Like the Children of Israel in the wilderness we looked to God’s pillar of fire or smoke to lead us and we looked outside our tent and gathered enough manna just for the day. The flaps of our tents are open and welcoming to the wanderer. Our model is hospitality and our guiding principles are loving God and loving people. It is working.