From Services to Service

“You yourselves know how I lived among you the whole time from the first day that I set foot in Asia, serving the Lord with all humility and with tears and with trials that happened to me through the plots of the Jews; how I did not shrink from declaring to you anything that was profitable, and teaching you in public and from house to house, testifying both to Jews and to Greeks of repentance toward God and of faith in our Lord Jesus Christ…But I do not account my life of any value nor as precious to myself, if only I may finish my course and the ministry that I received from the Lord Jesus, to testify to the gospel of the grace of God.” Acts 20:18-21, 24

I love this passage. There’s something about this particular speech that Paul gave to the elders at Ephesus (Acts 20:17) that encourages me to be missional. From these few verses we see some of Paul’s legacy. He was sharing with the elders how he fought the good fight. Paul demonstrated how to “serve the Lord with all humility and with tears and with trials”. He “did not shrink from declaring to [them] anything that was profitable” teaching them both in public and in private. He testified all of the word to all people. I want to be like that. I want to finish my course to “testify to the gospel of the grace of God”.

I have a long way to go if I want a legacy like that or anything remotely close to it. It’s only recently that I’ve come to value the missional lifestyle. Prior to that, I was a walking billboard of what being missional is not. I went to a seeker-friendly church that had a “Field of Dreams” paradigm, believing that “if you build it, they will come”. If roller-skating was cool, we would have built a rink to get people in the door. I was doing the fast food approach when witnessing. My idea of evangelism was tipping a waiter with a “million dollar Jesus tract”, doing door-to-door knocking with my proud thick Bible–or

my personal favorite–buying “testamints” (shout out to Hobby Lobby y’all) and tricking people into hearing my testimony when I offered a mint. Oh yeah, I did that. My idea of being a missionary meant building an underground radio station in Sudan that sent out the gospel message- and millions were saved just by listening to it.

But, being missional is none of those things. It’s not a program, it’s not a budget line item and it’s certainly not fast-paced. Building a community is a slow process, and you have to actually care about people enough to build a genuine relationship with them.

Being missional means throwing out the Christian jargon and remembering what it was like to be an unbeliever. It also means believing in hell. It’s impossible to not share the gospel when you believe in eternity apart from Christ and the realities of judgment day. It’s my prayer that, like Paul, I will be able to serve those around me and not shrink from declaring the good news. I know it won’t always be comfortable, but it is worth doing. I’ve seen God’s unmerited favor in my own life, and I want to others to know it too. Being missional means being Jesus’ sent people in our own communities. For me, being missional means spending time with my landlord. His office is right next to our laundry room. Every time I bring a load down, which fortunately for him is 8 days out of the week, I make a point to stop in and say hello. I’m not rattling off my memory verses or making him listen to the newest Christian podcast, I’m listening, and learning about his dog passing or wife’s favorite foods. There isn’t a formula to being missional. It’s not a program. It’s about people.

How about you? Have you had a non-missional moment (like pretending to talk on the phone instead of talking to your neighbor? (Yikes! I may have done that before…) Or maybe you have a word of encouragement on how you have been missional? I’d love to hear from you all.

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