“…it is not so much that the church has a mission but that the mission has a church.” So says Lance Ford and Alan Hirsch in their book Right Here, Right Now: Everyday Mission for Everyday People.
‘Missional’ is a popular term in the world of ministry today and is, I believe, both a reaction and a challenge to the model of attraction that has dominated the landscape for quite sometime. Many believers find it hard to define and understand but I think that Ford and Hirsch give us some very good illustrations and pegs upon which to hang some important features about being missional in our everyday life.
They speak of
moving out “into missional engagement”
moving in by “burrowing down into the culture”
moving alongside by “engaging in genuine friendships and relational network”
moving from by “challenging the dehumanizing and sinful aspects of our culture”
A strong emphasis on being ‘sent’ permeates the book. I believe that Ford and Hirsch’s perspective is to ‘go’ into our culture, which I think they refer to as networks that are a part of our daily life. This is in contrast to the ‘come’ model that bring people to a building.
What I like about this book is that it challenges and inspires the person in the pew to realize that they are a missionary in today’s society that that it is within the networks they currently have as parents, married people, workers, neighbors, and members of distinct geographic locations. There are some wonderful illustrations about how believers can demonstrate Christ in common ordinary situations and Ford’s sharing of a restaurant experience is a priceless illustration of how our everyday witness can make an important statement.
This book is also a challenge to the common assumptions of the American middle-class and its impact on the church and the Christian faith. The authors challenge the assumption of the middle class as it relates to both personal life style and ministry mindset. And they issue a call to move away from a consumerist mentality and into a kingdom mentality in which new ways of living and ministry are considered. These issues will be sources of debate and contention but are vital in understanding the missional dynamic.
In short, Ford and Hirsch speak of a change in perspective from ‘come’ to ‘go’ in which, I believe, Christians are challenged to see beyond the walls of the church and into their human networks and instead of another program, offer a friendship that creates credibility so that others are invited into the kingdom of God. This is a challenge of epic proportions, I believe, as it calls for a change in perspective to a very active rather than passive mindset that has dominated the church for quite awhile.