Missional Fail

The other day I had what I like to call a Missional Fail. I was walking out to my car after picking up some groceries. A lady came up me and asked for help. Her car ran out of gas. She was about a mile from a relatives house. She needed a ride and some money. I gave her a ride, 5 bucks, and no gospel.

Here is why I call this a fail. I knew I would likely never see this lady again. I knew from our brief conversation that she wasn’t a believer. Also, I felt the Spirit pushing me to tell her. But I ignored. Instead, I told myself, “I’m helping her enough with a ride and some cash. Plus, I’m tired and need to get home to my family.” That translates into, “I care more about myself than this person’s soul.”

All of us fail when it comes to mission. Maybe you rushed into your house when you got home from work because you didn’t want to talk to your neighbor outside. Maybe you haven’t met your neighbors. You may have blown an opportunity with a stranger like I did. What do you do now?

1. Repent and cling to Jesus
The Christian Life is one of continual repentance. Why? Because we are still sinners. Don’t let the guilt of your failure paralyze you from future obedience to Jesus. After Paul speaks of the ongoing struggle between flesh and spirit in Romans 7, what does he say?

Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, I myself serve the law of God with my mind, but with my flesh I serve the law of sin. There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus’ -Romans 7:25-8:1

2. Evaluate
When you think about your missional failure, ask yourself how you are doing in the area of mission as a whole. When I did this, I realized that my problem wasn’t just that I was too selfish to share the gospel with one lady, it was that I was neglecting God’s mission in other areas of my life as well.

Think about where God has you in your life; workplace, neighborhood, school, etc. How are you  living the gospel intentionally in these contexts? If the answer is ‘no’ then why is that?

We should dig for the sin beneath the sin. While my sin was withholding the good news of Christ from this lady, it went way deeper. I didn’t want my personal comfort to be tampered with. I didn’t want to offend her and think less of me. I valued her approval more than God’s. I valued earthly comfort more than obedience to Christ.

3. Prepare
Read your Bible– Read it to be reminded of Christ’s forgiveness of your failures. Read Acts to see how the early church lived on mission. Read the Gospels to see how Jesus evangelized. Read the WHOLE THING to see God’s heart for mission.

Resources– While the Bible is the ‘how to’ book on evangelism and missional living, there are an endless amount of other helps in these areas. Read a book like The Gospel and Personal Evangelism by Mark Dever. Or go through a study like Ed Stetzer’s Sent.

Pray– Ask God to give you boldness the next time you have an opportunity. Ask him to give you a desire for his mission that demolishes your desire for personal comfort. Ask him to open the hearts of your lost neighbors, coworkers, friends, classmates, etc.

I’d love to hear other advice for dealing with a Missional Fail.

Related Posts
-Creating Missional Rythyms
-Missional Events
-Hospitality in Our Neighborhoods
-Creating Margins for Living On Mission
On Mission On The Job


7 thoughts on “Missional Fail

  1. I fear that I miss opportunities because of my lack of presentation. I feel like a need a method. The 4 spiritual laws or something. I am afraid people will ask me hard questions that I can’t answer. I don’t have good answers for questions like “How a can good God allow an earthquake to happen in Haiti?”

    • Josie,

      I can relate there for sure. I’ve got a lot of smart friends with questions.

      Having a method helps you to have a framework, but it doesn’t eliminate the problem of answering people’s hard questions.

      I get at that in my post tomorrow. My advice then for hard questions is to say “I don’t know.” when you don’t know.

      There are a number of ways that Haiti question can be meant. Why does God allow evil and suffering? Isn’t this a question we’ve all struggled through in some way? I think it’s totally legitimate to be honest with your own wrestling in that area. I like Tim Keller’s answer to that personally:


      (Keller’s book “The Reason for God” is an awesome resource for those kind of questions.)

      Why did He allow that in Haiti?

      Luke 13:1-5. Essentially Jesus says “The question isn’t why they died in Haiti, but why God hasn’t wiped all of us out.”

      In the end though, we must remember that Paul didn’t go to the Corinthians with lofty speech and wisdom but with the simple message of the Gospel. Our call is to preach the Gospel, it is up to God to change hearts. Think of the hardness of Paul’s heart that he could witness a man being stoned to death and say that it was good, and yet he was converted by Holy Spirit through the Gospel message.

      The focus has to be on His sovereignty to save, and not the fact that we are fragile vessels.

      • Thank you for the encouragement. I look forward to your new post.

        Your answer reminded me of what Billy Graham’s daughter said when Larry King asked her about why God allowed the tsunami to take so many lives. She said “Does it bother you that so many people died or that so many people died at once?”.
        We forget that we’ll all die one day.

        I agree (but sometimes forget) that not only does the Lord lead us to people who need to hear the gospel but will also lead us in what to say.

      • Josie,

        Thanks for the comment. I think Tyler said it best. While we should seek to answer the tough questions, THANK GOD the salvation of souls depends not on us but on God.

        Paul says ‘I am not ashamed of the gospel, FOR it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believers…’ (Rom 1:16)

  2. Hey Kevin! Thanks for this post. We can all relate to time when we resist the prompting of the Holy Spirit to share our faith in a specific circumstance!

    I have one suggestion for a “quick fix”. Obviously, being comfortable sharing our faith only comes from sharing it. Meanwhile, as we continue to develop our sharing skills, carrying tracts around is a great idea. If you aren’t comfy sharing, or getting into a long conversation with a lady you are helping (which might cause you to have some ‘splaining to do when you tell your wife you spent an hour talking to a lady in your car), you can give her a tract, and ask her if it would be okay to call her to invite her to church or something (or if you don’t want to do that you can write contact info on the tract).

    Just a thought…

  3. I have noticed that often when I am exhausted by the day’s activities or brain dead from paper work that is when God will send someone to me in need. Either a lost soul that needs the gospel or a brother or sister who needs encouragement or a listening ear.

    This has been consistent in my life for about a year and a half now. I get phone calls in the middle of family movie night. I get stopped on my way home from a long day of errands. I get called right as I am going to bed early because I don’t feel well. It has been a beautiful albeit painful experience. I have been able to see God set me aside and push His power and life through my worn out and inadequate person. I have also been drawn into a deeper understanding of how crucial it is for me to go to Him continually to be filled and stretched so that I have fruit on the tree of my life when I encounter the hungry.

    I have learned in new ways that God is big and I am not. 🙂

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