Our fifth and final teaching time brought Michael Frost back for one more message. While this one was a bit harder to take notes on (because of Q&A, audience interaction, and stories / examples), he did provide with very clear questions. These questions, he said, should be asked – and answered – by anybody serious about “becoming missional.”
Notably, Frost said that through discussions with many us this week, he had noticed that many of us have already done much of this missional application within our ministries. But, he said, our churches need to ask and answer these same questions, and we college ministers, youth ministers, and church planters may have much wisdom to offer. (He was complimentary toward especially college ministry – since that was the largest percentage of our group – in this same way throughout the week, regularly noting our missional approach to the campus and to the work we do there.)
If we are the sent-ones of God, “What kind of questions do we need to ask and answer around this notion of ‘Sent-ness’?,” Frost asked.
#1: By whom have we been sent?
We have been sent, as Frost described in an earlier message, by the sent and sending God. This is, again, the theological undergirding for his missional understanding. We don’t choose to be “missional” because we want to grow churches, and not because Jesus “barked out some order – in the Great Commission – like some Seargeant Major in the army.” Instead, we choose to be missional because God is missional.
Understanding this should make a difference in the way we go about our ministries.
#2: To whom have you been sent?
Frost related that the first missionaries to Papua New Guinea realized that there was a different tribe on each mountain. So what did they do? They had to choose one mountain, one tribe. And ultimately that tribe raised up missionaries to go to the next mountain, and so on.
“To which tribe, which mountain” are we called?
Here, he encouraged us to think in terms of “people-groups.” The people-group to whom I’m sent might be
- A subculture
Within this perspective, he noted that we should probably not simply ask, “To whom have I been sent?,” but “To whom have we been sent?” Though the default American model may be individualism, we need to counter that some in this area, Frost said. Our churches – or at least groups of people within those churches – are likely called to go together to reach a “people group.”
Discovering to whom we have been sent will probably not be an immediate process. We need to pray and wait.
#3: Where should I go?
If we came up with a Geographical answer when looking at Question #2, then the “where” is obvious. But if not…
Frost discussed “third places,” those places in our lives that are not home or work – but where people can fairly naturally talk about significant things and even significant differences between themselves. Sadly, some believe that these places are being lost in America. But without them – and without making use of them – Christians may lose natural ways to introduce spiritual conversations and questions.
But, he continued, we shouldn’t create these avenues by creating a fourth place in our lives. Sometimes Christians already have “third places,” where they spent time with their Christian buddies. So when wanting to hang out with non-Christians, they may try to cram one more place or activity into their lives… even though they really prefer being elsewhere. So we have to consider “doing church” within those “third places,” allowing ourselves to congregate in the very places where we can establish connections with lost people.
#4: About whom will we speak?
Announcing the Gospel means announcing Jesus.
Frost stated that he’s concerned that too many “Gospel presentations” mention Jesus for only a sliver, perhaps as “point 5 of a 10-point presentation.” But Paul’s presentations of the Gospel include Jesus in a big way, regardless of whether they happen to be long or short.
We need to announce a name and a person – Jesus – telling stories about Him, just like the early Christians did. Very few Christians, Frost said, have a bunch of parables and miracles on the tip of their tongue to share about Jesus and His amazing character and life. But we need Gospel Christians to be full of great stories, information, and sayings about Jesus, just like people often have about their political heroes, sports heroes, or other heroes.