My cheeks are still cold from playing “Bigger and Better” with a group of middle school students. I got the easy part—with my windows down so I could monitor things, I drove four 6th grade boys house-to-house as they asked strangers to trade them for something bigger and better. They started with a paper clip and ended up with a pair of snow skis. They actually made one trade too many and lost the skis for an old shadeless lamp. They traded the lamp for a big purple Barney. When they got back in the car, I told them they had ten minutes left in the game and a big decision to make. They got my meaning and headed back to trade for the skis again.
Almost every homeowner joined in on the fun, except for the lady that yelled at them to go away. When our time was up, I dropped the guys back off at their youth group party. I haven’t heard whether or not their skis were voted best trade, but I thought they did terrific. Now I’m sitting by the fire in my living room enjoying a quiet evening after the hour of competitive excitement.
And I just read these words in The Shaping of Things to Come by Michael Frost & Alan Hirsch: “. . . faith . . . [means] we stake our lives upon a conviction: It is far closer to raw courage than it is to mere belief. A missional church is as imaginative as it is bold. And missional leadership is courageous and willing to try new things and risk all if necessary to see the kingdom come.”
Bob and I have been thinking a lot about being missional lately. About what it means to minister in America today where the culture is rapidly changing, growing more diverse and global and spiritual while at the same time giving less and less credence to faith in Jesus Christ. We see so many people who are discouraged, depressed, de-spirited, and demoralized. They’re frustrated with churches, with politicians, with the status quo. They’re too busy, they’re worried about the environment, they’re skeptical of institutional anything.
In a big way, my husband and I want to do the hard work of figuring out how to enter our culture as missionaries. It’s simply not the environment we grew up in. And let’s be honest—too often, churches and ministries and Christians are so far removed from the world as it really is today that we’ve become ineffective in it. Bob and I are striving to become incarnational Christians—to actually enter into the lives of not-yet-Christians in a way that connects to them where they are so that they might know God and participate in his kingdom. Though the task is daunting and even confounding at times, the ideas we’ve tossed around are exciting. And scary. And risky.
But somehow I sense we’re trading up for something bigger and better.