By Caleb Jones
What is a local missionary? It is someone who sees their everyday life as a place where they have the ability to proclaim the good news of Jesus’s life, death, and resurrection.
What is a missional community? It is a group of Christians whose lives intersect in an area where they can proclaim the good new of Jesus’s life, death, and resurrection together.
At Coquina, we think the perfect balance for a missional community is any regular gathering where Christians from Coquina, Christians from other churches, people who don’t currently attend a church, and people who have no connection to a faith community interact.
As Tim Chester says, “It’s living our everyday life with gospel intentionality.”
As a follower of Jesus, the community that you are already involved in (your work, your hobbies, your children’s sports, etc.) needs your presence and your gospel proclamation. This is usually a big relief for Christians who have always seen “mission” as leaving everything they know and love to go somewhere else to be with people they’ve never met (and might not like). However, as someone who has left everything to go to a strange land, there is just as much sacrifice involved with being on mission right where you are. In some cases, it might be even more difficult because in our normal everyday routines we are just normal everyday people - no one is giving you an easy chance to talk about your faith by asking “what are you doing here?” I actually struggled with that a bit upon returning from Wales and becoming just another American. Who could possibly want to hear from me?
Well, the good news is that the Holy Spirit is faithful to teach us, remind us, and encourage us. The first thing that he reminded me of is that even in my everyday normal life (my work, my family, my friendships, and my hobbies) people needed to see God’s work on display. There is a sure-fire way to do this in every community, and that is to identify and love the marginalized.
I saw this first hand when I was part of a Crossfit gym a few years ago. Crossfit is a group-based fitness program, where you show up daily to complete workout regimens together. Nothing builds community like accomplishing something difficult together. The neat part about this community was that it didn’t matter how out of shape you were, you were welcomed with open arms and people were excited you were there, cheering you on until you finished each exercise. My first thought was, “Wow, this community has no outcast! They’ll take anybody!” Not long after that, I found out what it took to be marginalized in this particular group.
A guy and his girlfriend moved to town via sailboat, docked in the marina, and rode a scooter to the gym for class everyday. They were FIT! They looked like Tarzan and Jane! They were super athletic and incredibly passionate about the workouts. There was only one problem: they did not bathe regularly and didn't care to, and, after a while, people began avoiding them in small but recognizable ways. That was all it took to become marginalized in this community - having more body odor than everyone else around you. After a while, another Christian in the gym pointed this out to me and we began making an effort to be kind to them, making sure that we at least spoke to them and were gracious every chance we got. We were just normal gym members, but we were now living in a way that was different to everyones else in the gym - and people took notice.
If we are going to be good missionaries in our everyday life, then we have to study and investigate it like it is a new people and place. So, this week ask yourself as you are at work, what does it take to become an outcast here?
When you are at your hobbies, sports, and family outings ask, what kinds of things will get a person snubbed here?
Ultimately, ask who in this unique community where God has placed you could you show kindness to when everyone else is content to leave them in the margins?