21Twenty-one days ago I went “off the grid” of all social media by not posting or engaging in the discussions.  Instead, I took a different approach by observing posts, articles and comments on the grid.  There were other motivations that led to my disengaging.  I had reached a point where everything “missional” was annoying as hell to me.  Most importantly, the dialogue of making disciples seems to have fallen short and that caused me to pause.  I spent plenty of time in prayer, meditation and in reading the Gospels.  Many things were made clear to me.  Things about my heart, my battles and my Lord.  Things about the missional movement.

This is some of what I’ve observed over the past 21 days.  The missional movement has the makings of and is starting to look more like a cause instead of an organic movement of the Spirit.  I read posts, articles and comments that painted the picture of  us joining a cause.  As a matter of fact, some of it sounded churchy and very church planter-like.  It’s not to say there weren’t good or challenging thoughts being offered.  Folks like Kathy Escobar, Michael Frost, Alan Hirsch, David Fitch, Tim Catchim, Neil Cole and Mike Breen continue to challenge me.  Yet, as I peeked into social media it was as though Christ faded into the background and was eventually lost and disappeared.  Here is a thought that came too mind to sum up the last 21 days.  It’s not a “thus says the Lord,” and I’ll admit it’s a very general statement, yet, someone will be stirred to self examination and others will be offended:

“Missional leaders, those are not skinny jeans you’re wearing.  No, some of you have just gotten too big for your britches thinking that the missional movement is a cause for the Church, instead of it being about the King and his kingdom.  It’s not a cause alone.  Rather, it’s a movement about the heart of God (His Glory) revealed in the midst of a broken humanity to whom we are sent to make the gospel real, and reveal that Christ is at the center of it all because he is Lord of all.”

I shared my thoughts with some of my dear friends as part of a different discussion.  My friend Morgan Bush, whom I admire deeply, shared a very keen observation that we should carefully consider:

“The concept of missional living is being watered down.  Hipster culture has done nothing for Christ.  Hanging at the pub, drinking craft brew, blogging, responding to blogs, singing worship songs that sound like they were ripped straight from ‘Joshua Tree,’ and having the occasional argument over Calvinism does not constitute missional living.  And people do use the concept of living missional in their own native areas as a mask for spiritual laziness.”

As much as I dig a good craft brew, arguing about Calvinism and reading blogs, it does not and cannot replace the missional-incarnational life we are sent to live out in whatever context we find ourselves in for the sake of the King and his kingdom.  We’ve done a lot of theorizing, arguing and criticizing how we should and shouldn’t do church.  Yes, myself included.  Especially me.  While theories, arguments and venting can be helpful to us in processing the stirrings in our hearts we must move beyond that and become part of the solution.

The Spirit keeps taking me back to making disciples who follow Jesus and teaching them to reciprocate the process.  It’s not complicated, but it’s very hard work that is worth engaging.  Until we begin making disciples, the missional movement will only be a cause to do church differently, instead of being the body of Christ bearing witness to a kingdom that is at hand.  This kingdom is imagined and embraced through the proclaiming of the Gospel in our words and deeds.  Go…

Let Jesus close us out…

“Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.” – Jesus

“But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.” – Jesus

“All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” – Jesus


[Thanks to my brothers and sisters who encouraged me over the 21 days.  It was less about engaging in social media and more so about correcting the course of my spiritual journey by engaging you and Jesus Christ.  I learned a lot about God, Jesus, the Spirit and myself.  A lot about who I am and who I’m not.  Lots to process.  Lots of stuff to let go of and other stuff to embrace.]


16 thoughts on “21

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  1. Really beautiful, Gibby. I’ve had similar concerns as well and not just about the missional cause but the church wars in general. Tribalism can be an ugly war that pushes Christ off to the fringes. Instead of arguing about the best way to make disciples, we’re called to just do it. It’s really God’s work anyway that we have the immense privilege of participating in in whatever way that happens.

  2. I couldn’t help but think of this passage from Ezekiel as I was reading this:

    “The word of the Lord came to me: “Son of man, prophesy against the shepherds of Israel; prophesy and say to them: ‘This is what the Sovereign Lord says: Woe to you shepherds of Israel who only take care of yourselves! Should not shepherds take care of the flock? You eat the curds, clothe yourselves with the wool and slaughter the choice animals, but you do not take care of the flock. You have not strengthened the weak or healed the sick or bound up the injured. You have not brought back the strays or searched for the lost. You have ruled them harshly and brutally.”

    Thanks for your caring and correction.

    1. Whoa! That’s a stout passage. I came across it during my time off social media, as well. I hovered over Ezekiel, Jeremiah and Isaiah. Thanks for the reminder. It’s hard to refute a word of the Lord.

  3. What a Word, brother! As I read this article, it became clear to me that the prophetic voice is speaking to the church in the same way the prophets of old spoke to Israel. Time to re-center. Time to re-focus. Time to remember. The second half of the ancient prophets’ warnings comes to mind, also. If the word is ignored, captivity cannot be far away.

  4. Good thoughts. In some ways it seems like the missional movement was intended to turn talk into action and yet we’re still talking, just about something different. We won’t make progress until it’s less about our ideas of the magic of discipleship and more about the self-sacrificing, mundane (and occasional magic) of actual discipleship. Even among missional movement circles, we will be much more inclined to talk than to act. Praying the Spirit would change that in us.

  5. There’s lots of God-honoring stuff on the interwebs, bit this verse has been sticking in my craw recently:

    2 Timothy 4:3 ESV

    For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions,

    1. I agree, Joel. There is a lot of God-honoring stuff on the web. 2 Timothy 4:3 hits close to home because that is one of the many things I observed in the 21 days…itching ears…unsound teaching.

  6. Spot on! Our Lord has, and always will be on a “missional movement” in the hearts of His true followers! We can add NOTHING to this by trying to make a commercial/religious movement out of it. In fact, this will only serve to rip it out of the Hands of our sovereign Lord. We must continue to run hard after our Lord as we remain on mission for an with Him. And let’s just keep pointing at Him throughout, giving Him all the glory. He will take care if the “movements and revivals”. Let others call it a revival or a movement as they stand in awe of God and all that He is doing!

  7. Hey gibby, good word. I wanted to share a couple of verses that have been banging around in my heart lately. “The kingdom of God does not consist of words but of power.” and “Whatever you’ve done to the least of these, you’ve done to me.” Talk has it’s place, but embracing the messes and bringing the kingdom into those messes is the core. I haven’t done it well, but I’m giving it a try.

  8. “…embracing the messes and bringing the Kingdom into those messes…”

    Absolutely beautiful!! Thanks for that encouraging word. That is at the core and we can do that by remaining available, vulnerable and teachable as disciples and disciple makers.

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