Editor’s Note: The following is a report on the practical applications of Kim Hammond and Darren Cronshaw’s new book Sentness: Six Postures of Missional Christians (InterVarsity Press, 2014).
Too often, Christians approach church as consumers who are focused on using the best religious goods and services they can find. But the irony is that the more they try to get what they want for themselves, the more frustrated and bored they become in church, because a consumer mindset creates discontented attitudes that can never be satisfied.
God intends for his people to approach church as missionaries whom he has sent into the world to help redeem it. Participating in church with a mission mindset requires a sacrificial change in focus from self to others. But ultimately, it leads to greater satisfaction with church as people go on the exciting adventures God wants to send them on.
Don’t settle for anything less than the best God has for you in your church. Here’s how to participate in church in a way that helps you go where God wants to send you on mission:
Stop shopping around. Rather than moving from church to church, constantly shopping for a place that you think would best suit your desires, ask God to lead you to a healthy church in your local area. Then make a commitment to participate in that church community for as long as you live locally. Get to know other people in your congregation well, building friendships with them that grow close enough for you all to get together outside of church. Serve in at least one way (from volunteering as an usher to teaching children) to contribute some of your God-given gifts to the life of your church. Use what you learn in church to prepare yourself to represent Jesus well in the work you do outside of church, in the rest of your life. Instead of looking for the next best something that meets your needs, start something new to help meet other people’s needs. Stop simply going to church and instead decide to be the church.
Act as a sent person. Since God accomplishes his mission work of redeeming this fallen world through the worldwide church, he sends everyone who is part of a church on a mission to join him in that work. Realize that God has sent you wherever you are so you can play the unique role he has prepared for you to play in the great story of how he is redeeming the world. So act as someone who is sent by using your time at church well. Instead of just seeking inspirational sermons, exciting music, and interesting programs, seek to prepare yourself in church for the mission work that God has given you to do in the world. Ask the Holy Spirit to guide you to fulfill his purposes as you go about all of the little moments of ordinary life, creating good work that has eternal significance in every situation you encounter. Be constantly available to God and engaged with the lives of the people around you.
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Whitney Hopler, Crosswalk.com Contributing Writer