Up To Speed
In my last post, we talked about missional. It was a brief overview of what the definition of a missional community is – and what it is not. We noted that the Abraham event, what Paul calls the gospel in advance, is the starting block for missional communities in a world that is marked by sin.
This post will seek to define in practice what a missional community looks like in practice.
Blessing v. Curse
It appears as if blessed was the word that characterized the advent of creation. God “blesses” everything and calls al of it “good.” However, when humanity is recorded to have acted in disobedience towards the creator, an inevitable “curse” falls on child-bearing and on the land.
This is problematic. Under this curse, the garden Adam and Eve were to cultivate is not going to abundantly and easily produce as it should, and the making of helpers to help with the garden project is going to be burdensome as well.
The curse remains and is problem for the human experience. However, God is not content to leave his creation under such a spell. As a result, he commission Abraham to bless the world. In other words – Abraham sets out on a mission to reverse the curse.
Before talking about the “reverse-the-curse” mandate, we should talk about the nature of blessing.
What is Blessing
Blessing is multifaceted. It’s like a diamond – the more you turn it the more light you see reflected through it from different angles. In the same way, the more we “turn” the word blessing, the more ways in which we see blessing relates to our life. In short, blessing is about abundant, wholeness of life in every area. But primarily, blessing is about material change. Here are takes on the concept of blessing from some leading scholars.
Christopher J. H. Wright talks about blessing like this: “God’s blessing is manifested most obviously in human prosperity and well-being; long life, wealth, peace, good harvests and children are the items that figure most frequently in lists of blessings.” The NRSV Study Bible notes that “blessing means well-being in all of life’s dimensions: material, social, and spiritual.”
And finally, Gruneberg states that, “Blessing in Hebrew is intrinsically god-related, referring to divine bestowal of prosperity (primarily envisaged in material terms.)”
Being a Blessing
This being said, Abraham is sent out to restore a broken, fractured creation back to it’s original state – abundance, wealth, peace, and long life. This is what it means to be blessed. And if this is what it means to be blessed, then our mission to bless others has to take on a definition that has handles. It has to be something we can grasp and quantify with material markers.
Our mission to bless people has to be more than asking them to have a spiritual encounter. In actuality, every spiritual encounter should be accompanied by a physical counter part. The academy calls this “redemption and lift.” Redemption and lift is a process by which an encounter with Jesus results in the upward mobility of the individual economically, physically, and socially.
As a result, to be missional is to engage in redeeming and uplifting society. And if this redemption and lift doesn’t take on an upward mobility materially then we have missed a significant mark (if not the mark) of what it means to be a missional community. A missional community ought to be consumed with a passion and desire to see the lifting of the least of society out of their current states of poverty, sickness, and social estrangement.
Austin Helm is the College Pastor at ONEchapel – a growing, thriving community of faith in Austin, TX. His specialty is working with young people as he has been leading and teaching students and young adults for 10+ years. Some of these 10+ years were spent at Eastside Christian Church, one of the ten fastest growing churches in the United States. He also speaks at many retreats and conferences across the country, from Orange County, CA to New York City, NY.
In addition, Austin also facilitates leadership training for various ministries and missions organizations. Austin has a B.A. in Communications from Oral Roberts University and a Master of Arts in Theology from Fuller Theological Seminary. He is also the Director of ONEchapel’s ministry school – ONEchapel College (www.onechapelcollege.com). In addition to ministry, Austin also serves as a consultant for creatives and start-up companies.