At the outset, and with all the transparency I can muster, I admit that I believe every believer is sent. What does that mean to me? It means I believe that deep within the Image of God DNA that we as believers have inherited, is the impulse for movement and mission from where we are, spiritually, attitudinally, and physically, to other places and spaces from the Holy Spirit. It’s genetic. (John 17:18) Those other places don’t have to be geographic spaced, but they often are. That movement, that recognizable gait, assumes that of its Father. It’s like when people say “he walks just like his father.”
That sent-ness was manifested as “the exact representation” (Hebrews 1:3) of the Father in Jesus’ mission. He did the will of the Father who sent him. (John 6:38) As a missionary in the more traditional understanding of the word, I can get too focused on the idea that everyone is sent and worse, that everyone must ‘live as sent,’ even if I can substantiate my understanding of that from scripture. My purpose in writing this is not to debate whether or not every believer is sent, but to express a concern that sent-ness can quickly descend into the burdensome yoke category.
What is a burdensome yoke? It’s the heavy burden of a system of works that religious purveyors lay on the backs of the people who Jesus is offering relief to. Jesus was, and is, offering a streamlined yoke that goes from zero to eternity without burning the environment damaging fuel of human religion.
Within the various ‘missional’ movements, and I’m not picking on any particular stream, there’s a lot of pressure to;
1. Accept sent-ness in your heart. – “Confess with your mouth that you are sent, and you will be saved.”
2. Wait in Jerusalem for power from on high. – You shall be my witnesses at the conference, in the parking lot, at the coffee shops, and in the uttermost parts of the world.
3. Be baptized. – Believe in our sent-ness and be baptized, or you shall receive eternal strife.
4. Do not forsake the gatherings. – as the manner of some is; but exhort one another: and many more, as ye see the end of the missional movement approaching.
5. Make Disciple of all nations. – Teach them to consume all that we have written.
Yes, I’m being cheeky. Forgive me of my haphazard hyperboles.
Timothy C. Tennent said that,”Evangelicals would rather be a respected “acolyte in the Temple of the Global Market God” than a prophetic voice in a culture that revels in using religious, even Christian, language to baptize the autonomous self.”
I must confess that I have carved out a few yokes of my design. I have called others to minister like I do, work like I do, and mission like I do. Oddly enough, I discovered that those yokes were not ‘one size fits all.’ Even ‘best practices’ discovered through genuine trial an error may not be the best practices for others. Reverse engineering from missional success stories rarely works. Being all missional things to all missional people is easy. Being all things to all people is not. My white chocolate dipped yoke does melt in other people’s hands. And so, as I try to figure out at what point my own sent-ness rhetoric becomes religion I’ll ask you two questions;
How do you promote sent-ness without imposing it?
What sorts of signs, in your view, are indicative of sent-ness becoming a religious rack?