A few years ago I ran and organized a conference called St. Paul goes to the Movies. The idea was to help Christians lean how to share faith from within diverse cultural settings in Western contexts. My advice to all Christians is in order to take missionality seriously you have to take culture seriously. There is no dodging this aspect. You simply have to assume that all communication of the Gospel, let alone church planting and mission, in Western contexts now is cross cultural. Donâ€™t presume you really know whatâ€™s going on. The reality is that most Christians donâ€™t really know what goes on in the lives of non-Christian people. Research indicates that the majority of Christians have no significant relationships with people beyond their church community. To move out (get missional), and to move deep (get incarnational), this must change.
If you find yourself called to a certain urban tribe, whoever they might be, then it is critical that you take their culture, in effect their meaning-system, seriously. Go to movies with friends and talk about the themes. Read the books they are likely to read (there is good demographical information about lifestyle preferences and people groups around). Browse bookshops and magazine racks as to what people are talking about and interested in. If people see a movie more than once, make sure you see it and try to work out what it is that they seemed to resonate with. Then you can get to see how the Good News relates to the issue. The missional Christian makes the connections between peopleâ€™s existential issues and the Gospel as we shall see, but it does take some cultural savvy to make this happen well.
Redeeming your Hang Out, (3rd places etc.)
Missionality right here, right now, does not always require you to go to places and people you find so different and uncomfortable. In the principle of starting with whatâ€™s already in your hand, make a list of the things you love to do. Odds are that there are a whole lot of people who already do that together, and if not, then there are probably people who would like to do that with others. Another approach is to list the vibrant social spaces in your area and simply adopt one and become a regular. Donâ€™t do this as some sort of lone missional ranger. How about a few of you take this on as a common mission.
The things that people like doing are art forms, murals, beer brewing clubs, cooking classes, cycling, etc. A look at your local newspaper will reveal hundreds of such groups around. For example I know of a group of believers who simply loved bush walkingâ€¦. trekking through the mountains and hills around Melbourne. Problem was the only free day they had was Sunday, so they decided to make that their church. They would trek out into the bush, taking in the glories of Godâ€™s creation and good comradeship along the way. At a certain point they would stop, have a meal/communion together, share around scripture, take an offering, prayer for people, and then continue bush walking for the rest of the day. About 40% of the group were non-Christians deeply interested in the mix of nature and spirituality that The Earth Club provided. The church that Jesus built doesnâ€™t need all the institutional paraphernalia that we have been scripted to think it does. You carry it with you everywhere you go.
To be continued in Part 8…
What are some ways that you have tried to redeem your hangout?
Alan Hirsch & Lance Ford have released their newest book, “Right Here, Right Now: Everyday Mission for Everyday People.” Join us as we release exclusive content from the book’s opening chapter! Read Part 6 below or start from the beginning…
In this inspiring yet practical book, Alan Hirsch and Lance Ford show you how to live missionally regardless of your situation, vocation, or location. Touching on issues of discipleship, spirituality, and church at every level of experience, Right Here, Right Now calls you to be the person God has made you to be.