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On a Mission... From God
by Tom Goodman
September 3, 2009

Are you a "bunker Christian" or a "beachhead Christian"?  And, as a leader, are you fostering a "bunker mentality" or a "beachhead mentality" at Hillcrest?

From time to time I've raised that question with you since I arrived.  A bunker is a defensive position while a beachhead is a position from which soldiers can take the offensive.

Some Christians prefer life in the bunker, hiding away from what they perceive as the overwhelming forces of unbelief in their culture.  But faithful believers know they are called to influence, to persuade, to win hearts and minds.  They know their own lives are to be kingdom beachheads in God's gracious invasion of a fallen world.

Another word for the beachhead mentality is "missional."  It simply means to live with the keen awareness that you are supposed to be participating in God's redemptive mission.

"We're on a mission," Jake Blues explained to his band in a memorable scene from The Blues Brothers.  "From God," added Elwood Blues in a nasal Chicago accent.

Who woulda thought The Blues Brothers was so theological?*

As leaders, we have to nudge everyone to this mindset.  That's why I like to read articles like this one by a fellow Austin pastor, Jonathan Dodson.  He said, "Don't make the mistake of making 'missional' another thing to add to your schedule.  Instead, make your existing schedule missional."  He suggested eight ways:

Eat with Non-Christians.  We all eat three meals a day.  Why not make a habit of sharing one of those meals with a non-Christian or with a family of non-Christians?  Go to lunch with a co-worker, not by yourself.  Invite the neighbors over for family dinner.  If it's too much work to cook a big dinner, just order pizza and put the focus on conversation.  When you go out for a meal, invite a non-Christian friend.  Or take your family to family-style restaurants where you can sit at the table with strangers and strike up conversations (Mighty Fine Burgers, Buca di Peppo, The Blue Dahlia, etc).  Have cookouts and invite Christians and non-Christians.  Flee the Christian subculture.

Walk, Don't Drive.  If you live in a walkable area, make a practice of getting out and walking around your neighborhood, apartment complex, or campus.  Instead of driving to the mailbox, convenience store, or apartment office, walk to get mail, groceries, and stuff.  Be deliberate in your walk.  Say hello to people you don't know.  Strike up conversations.  Attract attention by walking the dog, taking a 6-pack (and share), bringing the kids.  Make friends.  Get out of your house!  Last night I spent an hour outside gardening with my family.  We had good conversations with 3-4 neighbors.  Take interest in your neighbors.  Ask questions.  Engage.  Pray as you go.  Save some gas, help the planet.

Be a Regular.  Instead of hopping all over the city for gas, groceries, haircuts, eating out, and coffee, go to the same places.  Get to know the staff.  Go to the same places at the same times.  Smile.  Ask questions.  Be a regular.  I have friends at coffee shops all over the city.  My friends at Starbucks donate a ton of left-over pastries to our church 2-3 times a week.  We use them for church gatherings, and occasionally give to the homeless.  Build relationships.  Be a Regular.

Hobby with Non-Christians.  Pick a hobby that you can share.  Get out and do something you enjoy with others.  Try City League sports.  Local rowing and cycling teams.  Share your hobby by teaching lessons.  Teach sewing lessons, piano lessons, violin, guitar, knitting, tennis lessons.  Be prayerful.  Be intentional.  Be winsome.  Have fun.  Be yourself.

Talk to Your Co-workers.  How hard is that?  Take your breaks with intentionality.  Go out with your team or task force after work.  Show interest in your co-workers.  Pick four and pray for them.  Form mom's groups in your neighborhood and don't make them exclusively non-Christian.  Schedule play dates with the neighbors' kids.  Work on mission.

Volunteer with Non-Profits.  Find a non-profit in your part of the city and take Saturday a month to serve your city.  Bring your neighbors, your friends, or your small group.  Spend time with your church serving your city.  Once a month.  You can do it!

Participate in City Events.  Instead of playing X-Box, watching TV, or surfing the net, participate in city events.  Go to fundraisers, festivals, clean-ups, summer shows, and concerts.  Participate missionally.  Strike up a conversation.  Study the culture.  Reflect on what you see and hear.  Pray for the city.  Love the city.  Participate with the city.

Serve your Neighbors.  Help a neighbor by weeding, mowing, building a cabinet, fixing a car.  Stop by the neighborhood association or apartment office and ask if there is anything you can do to help improve things.  Ask your local Police and Fire Stations if there is anything you can do to help them.  Get creative.  Just serve!

Good advice!  Apply at least one of the eight ways to your schedule this week.  Because Jake and Elwood were right:  We're on a mission... from God.


* Of course I'm being tongue-in-cheek referring to The Blues Brothers as theological.  The 1980 film was a vehicle for some great blues songs, but mind the R rating for language.

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