Creating Missional Rhythms

Rhythm

–noun

1. movement or procedure with uniform or patterned recurrence of a beat, accent, or the like.

When a missions organization sends someone to a foreign land that missionary has a prime directive.  They are to engage culture in an intentional way in order to create opportunities to minister the Gospel.  This is not optional and the missionary must build his or her life around this task.

CBR003545We are missionaries too, and we must engage our culture with the same type of  focused intentionality.  This is especially true in an American suburb because we as suburbanites tend to cocoon ourselves away from our culture or create such busy lives that we have little room or time to engage the people around us with the Gospel.

Intentionally building our lives around mission is called creating missional rhythms.

We know what rhythm is when it comes to music and a misisonal rhythm is not much different.  It is creating specific ways of orienting your life and routines so that you will come in contact with people who don’t know Christ and that you will use these encounters to build relationships that will eventually create an open door for sharing the Gospel.

We find some excellent examples of this kind of living in Scripture:

  • Jesus ministered on a “circuit” traveling from city to city and spent His days in the public places of each community preaching, teaching, and working miracles.
  • The stories in the Gospels also find Jesus ministering on the shores of the Sea of Galilee, because that is where people gathered in a community made up predominately of fishermen.
  • Acts 17 talks about the Apostle Paul spending his days in the Athens Marketplace sharing the Gospel with the people who were there.
  • Acts 19 finds Paul in Ephesus where he spends two years in a local private school called the Hall of Tyrannus, teaching people about the Kingdom.

This is what missional rhythms looked like in that culture and that time.  But what about today?

Ultimately, you have to prayerfully examine your own life and routines to see where some missional rhythms can be created but here are a few ideas to get you started.

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Become a regular.

Does your dry cleaner know your name?  What about your barista, or the teller at your bank, or the owners of the local restaurants?  More importantly, do you know their names?  Do you know about their families, and their businesses and what they are going through?

There is a lot of talk lately about “buying local.”  It’s a beautiful idea.  And not just for the economy, but for the Gospel as well.  Become a regular patron at the local businesses in your community and get to know not only the people who work there but the other customers as well.

Take a walk.

Spend some time regularly walking through your neighborhood.  I’m not talking about power walking with your iPod blaring in your ears,  I’m talking about a stroll, a mosey, or an amble.  Walk, wave at people, talk to people who are working in their yards and get to know your neighbors.

42-16648456Buy some tickets.

Every community has local art groups, galleries, theaters, concerts, and ballgames.  We should be there.  That is where people in our community gather and where we can get to know them.

Even better than buying tickets is to play along yourself!  Volunteer as an usher at your local community theater, or even try out for a part if you’re feeling bold.  Join a local sports team that is not a church league.  Contribute some of your photographs to a local gallery.  Buy some art at the gallery yourself and spend some time talking with the artist about the piece.

Get out of your office.

Instead of having lunch at your desk, invite a coworker to lunch and don’t talk about work.  Or, you can carpool with someone in your office and talk instead of sleep when it’s his turn to drive.

What about you?  What ideas do you have for creating missional rhythms where you live and work?

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9 thoughts on “Creating Missional Rhythms

  1. One of the areas that I’ve been trying to capitalize on as a “missionary” is youth sports. These are great ways to engage with lost people. Susan has done this as a parent on the sidelines, and I’ve done this as a coach. You spend a ton of time with parents at practices and games…why not take advantage of that time for the kingdom – you’re there anyway! Instead of reading a book, why not engage the folks around in conversation – get to know them, hear their story, and then listen for the Holy Spirit to show you how the gospel can be integrated into their life.

    One of the things I’d like to hear from folks on is how they are trying to reach their neighbors. Not just folks in shops and away from their neighborhood/subdivision, but how do they engage with their neighbors….I’m talking next door neighbors…neighbors across the street. Seems like those are the most diffictult for me, because my mentality (wrong and needs to change) is that when I’m home, I’m “off”….not “on duty” as a missionary. Is that really the way we’re supposed to be? If not, how do we find our way out of it?

    Thoughts anyone?

  2. One way we met our neighbors was through a garage sale. Being in the suburbs, we lived in our house for a year before we met more than one family on our street (missional fail on my part). But when we had a garage sale everyone stopped by. I know know most of my neighbors.

    Now the issue is: What next? What do I do to continue building those relationships?

  3. One of the things we do is Christmas gifts. Our first year in our house we bought small boxes of Whitman’s Samplers and wrapped them up and took them around to all of our neighbors.

    We have done that every year since. It really helped to get a relationship started with each person in our cul-de-sac and made it more comfortable for us to get to know everyone and for them to get to know us.

  4. Great post, Joe. This way of thinking is very essential for advancing the Gospel because rhythms deal with our modus operandi as believers and not with isolated events. Events should flow naturally from the rhythm of our life.

    With us moving to a new house, we have been thinking a lot about how to hit the ground running with this. We want to cultivate missional habits from the get-go and not set a pattern of typical suburban shut off from the world…

    I have nothing to add to the neighborhood conversation, because we failed miserably in our current house because of a number of (poor) excuses.

    I have at times become a “regular” at different Starbucks, and at my bank (by doing my business with people inside and not with machines outside).

    Also, the non-Church sports league thing is a good idea.

  5. Joe, you reminded me that Christmas is a great time to reach our neighbors! One thing we have done when the boys were little is an annual Happy Birthday Jesus party. I know this may sound a little cheesy, but the kids loved it. we intentionally only invited neighborhood kids (no church friends allowed 🙂 and just set it up like a regular birthday party. The gifts were given to a charity and we made sure to tell the real meaning of Christmas clearly. At least one child I know of heard the Christmas story for the very first time.

  6. I began to chat with the lady who delivers our mail. I don’t catch her all of the time, but when I do I really listen. I make a point to remember when she mentions names and births, illnesses and hardships. I ask her about them next time we chat. Even if it has been several months, I ask anyway. I get the names wrong sometimes, but she never seems to mind, she just corrects me 🙂 This has given me the opportunity to pray for her on the spot as well as on my own time. And she knows that she can share things with me that she is burdened with and that I will remember to ask about them next time.

    I spend a lot of time at home so I have often felt that my mission field is small compared to others. But God is good, he brings the field to me 🙂

  7. Pingback: Missional Fail « Roots Run Deep

  8. Pingback: Living Missionally in the Summer « Roots Run Deep

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