This is the third primary commitment of a missional-incarnational church’s infiltration of society. If the church is living an intriguing new lifestyle that is so marked by goodness that it makes the gospel attractive, then to truly be effective it follows that this lifestyle must be lived in close proximity to not-yet-Christians. Paul took this seriously in his mediation of the Corinthian factions that had split over the issue of eating food offered to idols (1 Cor. 10:27–11:1).
If the Christian church is to be incarnational and missional, as we believe the New Testament anticipates, and if it’s to abandon an us-and-them mentality, it will need to rediscover the biblical mode of impacting the world around it. The traditional-attractional church thinks about evangelism as sending out church members to share their faith with others and to bring them into the church. But the New Testament writers saw it much more organically.
Because we want to make disciples, not mere converts, we need to reconsider standard views of contextualization. It is more than the mere transmission of information. We might grab a lot of people’s interest, but we won’t keep it. Presentations don’t transform people. The gospel does.
Why? The gospel transforms a person’s worldview, not simply his or her doctrine. If this is our goal, then how do we begin to do contextualization?
Hospitality is a lost art in our culture, and it has become a lost necessity when it comes to discipleship. We talk about discipleship being life-on-life instead of information transfer, but how are we really inviting people into our lives? How are we, like Paul, saying "Follow me as I follow Christ"?
Missional is not an event we tack onto our already busy lives. It is our life. Mission should be the way we live, not something we add onto life: “As you go, make disciples.”; “Walk wisely towards outsiders”; “Let your speech always be seasoned with salt”; “be prepared to give a defense for your hope.”
We can be missional in everyday ways without overloading our schedules. Here are a few suggestions...