Mission Starts With Beauty

May 16, 2012 in By Ryan, Missional Living

If I’m not careful, I let myself get stuck staring at a computer screen all day, pretty much every day. As the weather gets nicer outside, I find this dreadful. Last Monday, I intentionally took a 15 minute break, went outside, laid in the sun, played with the grass, and felt the breeze. It was more beautiful than the rest of my day and something I’m convinced I need to do every day, because as I laid in the grass, God gave me life for that day.

In the first creation narrative of Genesis, God declares the goodness of God’s creation seven times. God even looks upon everything God has created and finds it “supremely good” (Genesis 1:31 CEB).

The story of God begins with beauty.

When we look upon the world we live in, we might struggle to come to the same conclusion as God did. The brokenness of sin and death is often much easier to find than the beauty of love and life. And maybe rightly so, because the world we are a part of now is different from the world God found “supremely good” in the beginning. Sin and death have come into the world, and the world is no longer how God intended it to be.

We might begin to think that God’s mission is simply to get rid of a problem. When we view God’s mission as getting rid of something, I think we miss the fullness of God’s abundant life.

Because the divine, the beautiful, the sacred, is to be found all around – if we simply slow down enough and pay enough attention. If we take a break from the manufactured computers of our lives, we can participate in God’s life-giving creation. If we take our focus off ourselves and put it on others, we can love the way God intended us to love. And just as we can participate in God’s life-giving creation, we can participate in God’s life-giving mission, helping creation live into the fullness of God’s life.

Recognizing and living in the beauty of God’s world is the beginning of living in God’s mission. If we take seriously the scriptural testimony to a God who is at work in the world, restoring and reconciling all creation to God’s self, we begin to see that God isn’t starting over from scratch and isn’t just solving a sin problem but is working to restore creation to its intended wholeness, beauty, and supreme goodness.

How does beginning with the goodness of God’s creation affect the way we view God’s mission in the world?

Right now, how can you slow down to see the beauty of God’s life in the people, places, and creation around you?

God’s Story and Invitation

May 3, 2012 in By Ryan, Missional Living

Throughout the last year of my life I have been awakened to a greater understanding of who God is, the story of God, and what God is doing in the world. It is an exciting and on-going journey. MissioLife (and Chris Folmsbee and others) has shaped and guided this journey into a missional life.

My story is similar to many others’ stories. I was raised in a Christian family, my dad was a pastor, and I have always belonged to the church. I was taught about believing in God, God’s love, God’s sacrifice, God’s forgiveness, and the life that is possible through it all. I was taught to seek God with all my heart, soul, mind, and strength. And I was taught to love others.

I am so thankful for and blessed to have parents and a Christian community that raised me in the love of God.

But I have also learned in the last year or so, that maybe there’s something about being Christian that I missed growing up. Chances are that I was taught more than I learned, and that now I’m aware of what I have been taught all along. Regardless of whether I missed it or was never taught it, I’m discovering that there is much more to following Christ than just being forgiven and trying to love God as much as I can.

I’m discovering that my life has nothing to do with my own story and everything to do with God’s Story.

I’m discovering that when I place my life into God’s Story, I find who God created me to be.

I’m discovering that I’m learning more and more about what God’s Story really is.

And I’m discovering that God’s invitation is not just for my sins to be forgiven but for each of us to be a part of God’s redemptive mission to restore all things to their intended wholeness.

That is why MissioLife has been a valuable resources for me and our community. It has guided us further into God’s Story and God’s invitation to be part of God’s loving activity in the world. I look forward to sharing more about our experience with Missio Life.

Whether you have used MissioLife or not:

How do you understand the Story of God? What is God doing in your life and in the world? How can you respond to God’s invitation?

A Missional Prayer

April 12, 2012 in About MissioLife, By Chris, Missional Living

Pray this Scripture today  – Isaiah 52:7-10

How beautiful on the mountains are the feet of those who bring good news, who proclaim peace, who bring good tidings, who proclaim salvation, who say to Zion, “Your God reigns!” Listen! Your watchmen lift up their voices; together they shout for joy. When the LORD returns to Zion, they will see it with their own eyes. Burst into songs of joy together, you ruins of Jerusalem, for the LORD has comforted his people, he has redeemed Jerusalem. The LORD will lay bare his holy arm in the sight of all the nations, and all the ends of the earth will see the salvation of our God.”

In what ways are you bringing peace, goodness and salvation to your world?

How are you living in such a way that reveals to the world around you that God reigns?

In what do you put your daily hope?

On Mission, Part 4

April 10, 2012 in About MissioLife, By Chris, Missional Living

This is 4th in a series of posts called, “On Mission.”  Click for Part 1, Part 2, and Part 3.


So far in this series of posts we have covered the term “missional,” the origins of the mission of God, and the nature of the mission of God.  I think our next step in a better understanding of the mission of God is to realize the four key components of the work of God’s mission.   This is how we, the people of God, the church, find ways to participate in God’s mission.

Component # 1 – Evangelism – proclaiming and performing the gospel

Component # 2 – Contextualization – making the gospel message relevant

Component # 3 – Liberation – setting the “captives” free (Think Luke 4:18 & 19)

Component # 4 – Impartation – converting culture from hearers to storytellers

It is imperative to know what we mean when we use the word “missional” to describe how we are living.  If you say you are missional and you are not integrating the above components into your everyday life and the life of your church, you are confused as to what missional is.  Each of these four components has subsequent aspects of mission implicit within them (Think Liberation: Justice), however, in my opinion, these are the four main components of missional living.

People who live missionally share the gospel message that Jesus is King, make that message relevant to the every day life of people, work to free people from the constraints that keep them from a restored relationship with God and find ways to convert people into disciples who are making disciples.

A Rule (or Rhythm) of Life

March 21, 2012 in By Chris, Missional Living

Reflect on this quote:

“A rule of life is an intention to place Jesus Christ at the center of life, ministry and community.  It serves to train us in the ways of Jesus and to remind us who is Lord of our lives.  We can view a rule of life as a tool for shaping our Christian formation and leading us into a deeper relationship with Christ and others.  A rule of life can also give shape to our daily lives, not in a rigid way, but in a life-giving way.”**

Reflect on this one also:

“A rule of life means embracing certain values and practices for one’s spiritual formation.  It should provide structure for many areas of our lives – prayer, Scripture, fellowship, worship, Sabbath, mission, justice, service, sacraments, work, friendship, rest, nutrition, exercise, creativity, giving and so on.”**

Do you have a rule of life?  In what ways are you intentionally placing Jesus Christ at the center of your life?  In what ways is your rule of life, life-giving?

**Taken from Mike King’s Presence-Centered Youth Ministry, p. 151

On Mission, Part 3

March 14, 2012 in By Chris, Missional Living

This is the third post in a series called “On Mission.”  See part 1 here, and part 2 here

If what it means to be missional is to participate in God’s redemptive activity in the world (or the restoration of creation and freedom for humanity from every oppressive situation) and this mission has its origins from the heart of God then what are the aspects of the nature of mission itself?

I choose to live as though there are three integrative aspects to the mission of God.

The first aspect of the nature of God’s mission is the biblical text.  This is one place that we seek to understand and know God.  The biblical text is where the story of God, self, others and the world converges to reveal God’s desire for peace (or salvation and justice).

The second aspect of the nature of God’s mission is the people of God.  The church is the agency that God uses to remind the world that God has not forgotten them.  The church is the new society that tells the biblical story that is completed in Jesus – the gospel.

The third aspect of the nature of God’s mission is culture.  Where does the church proclaim and perform the gospel?  The gospel is to be lived out in the midst of the cultural context that we find ourselves in.  To be missional, therefore, is to work for the salvation and justice of humanity and the restoration of all of creation, wherever God has planted you.

In what ways do you find the integration of these aspects encouraging?  What stories do you have in which these three aspects of the nature of God’s mission have proven to be imperative?

The Story and Mission of God: an FAQ

March 1, 2012 in By Chris, Missional Living

As we help guide our children, youth and adults into the story and mission of God it is critical that we help them discover responses to the following questions:

Who is God? – It is in a full-narrative approach to God and God’s mission that we begin to understand and know God.  Particularly, how God relates to our own individual story and the stories of others (family, culture, history, etc.)

What do I believe about God? – Faith in God, developed through the narratives of God, self, others and the world help us and the children, youth and adults of our faith communities to move the our faith from an intellectual pursuit or activity to a practical reality.  Theology becomes tangible when it is lived out.

Who am I? – We become aware of what it means to live into the image in which we have been created (likeness of God) when we discover both the special calling (unique gifts and talents) and general calling (agents of God’s love) that God has for us as humans.  The meaning of the Christian life is found in our call to be God’s image and live faithful stories.

How do I live? – What we have come to know and experience about God through Scripture, thought, practice and conviction helps us to develop a set of virtues in which we allow to shape our inner life.

How do I participate with God’s mission? – Ultimately, our outer life is formed by the inner virtues.  These inner virtues, in the end, are the way we interact with people, the urgencies that we seek to live out and the patterns of our lives that co-operate with God’s mission.

Want to help people turn missional instincts into missional expressions?  If so, it’ll need to be through a full-narrative view of God and God’s desired work in this world.

God, Storied

February 23, 2012 in By Chris, Missional Living

God is the Storyteller who tells the ever weaving, unfolding and enduring Story of God’s amazing holy love. The Story of God reveals God’s missionary heart and the nature of our existence as Christians and our purpose of presence in and to this world.

Consider this quote from my good friend Mark Miller found in his book, Experiential Storytelling:

“We were created with a curiosity, a complexity and a need for meaning.  The longing to understand the bigger questions is a deep need that cannot be filled with mere facts.  God did not choose to reveal a list of facts to us.  The Old Testament was given to humanity in the form of narratives and poetry.  Even the writing of the law took place in the midst of the deeply compelling story of God redeeming his chosen people.”

Would you rather be told a story or read a list of facts?

It is widely know that the device for telling stories is what some refer to as the storytelling triangle.  Every story told has a storyteller, a narrative and an audience.  The Christian story’s triangle is this:

  1. God fills our curiosity, complexity and our meaning and God fills it with image, mission and work.  God is the storyteller.
  2.  The story God tells through the scriptures (and the stories God continues to tell in us each day) is where we find our identity as Christians.  We are part of the story.
  3. People are the audience of God’s great story. The compelling redemptive narrative is where humanity lives.  We are the hearers and doers of this great narrative.

The narrative and mission of God provides us with a large, dramatic, explicit and intense story in which we find God, ourselves, our relationships with others and our experience with the natural world.  We are introduced to Jesus and caught up in his life and ministry most effectively through the interaction with the entire story of God.

In what ways have you recently been caught up in the life and ministry of Jesus?

On Mission, Part 2

February 21, 2012 in By Chris, Missional Living

See Part 1 here

In his great work entitled Transforming Mission, David Bosch said:

“It cannot be denied that the missio Dei notion has helped to articulate the conviction that neither the church nor any other human agent can ever be considered the author or bearer of the mission. Mission is primarily and ultimately the work of the Triune God, Creator, Redeemer, and Sanctifier, for the sake of the world, a ministry in which the church is privileged to participate . . . . Mission has its origin in the heart of God. God is a fountain of sending love. This is the deepest source of mission. It is impossible to penetrate deeper still; there is mission because God loves people.”


Mission is not our idea, it is who God is. When we, as churches, work to guide children, youth, and adults in Christian formation for the sake of the world (more on this in forthcoming posts) we do so knowing that we can only understand mission as it is seen in God’s heart and the narrative of Scripture. This is the reason why I have undertaken this massive project called MissioLife.


The origins of the mission of God are the heart of God and the story God tells.

I desire to come alongside churches by creating biblical, intentional, and practical content that helps you guide your people (worship services, small groups, children’s ministry, youth ministry, etc.) into Christian formation that is rooted in the heart of God. MissioLife seeks to provide you with a framework for a multi-generational approach.


I am doing a series of webinars on March 13, April 5, and May 17. You can learn more about them at www.missiolife.com/webinar. I invite you to join me in discovering how MissioLife can help you create disciple-making environments in your faith community.


As you think through the discipleship process in your church, remember that the mission of God is the context for understanding the person and work of Jesus. If you want people to know and love Jesus, they need to see where Jesus fits into the mission. God proclaims the kingdom, Jesus makes the kingdom present, and the Holy Spirit gives witness to Jesus through the life and practices of the Church, the people of God.


In what ways does your disciple-making environment include the mission of God as a foundational element for living in the way of Jesus? 

The Indispensable Mission of God: 5 Reasons

February 20, 2012 in By Chris, Missional Living

5 Reasons the Mission of God is Indispensable for our Church Life


Thinking further about the missional nature of God, we discover through the sweeping redemptive arc of the biblical narrative, the story of our culture, the story of our self, and the story of our faith communities that the mission of God:


  1. Gives us a dream.  God includes us in his dream for the world.  We are invited into and commanded to be about God’s will to redeem humanity and the world and its freedom from every oppressive situation. Or, as I sometimes say, to restore the world to its intended wholeness.
  2. Brings focus.  Staying attentive to the mission of God requires that we keep our hearts focused on God and not the material concerns that can often keep us from seeing God as a God-for-people.
  3. Relieves the pressure to produce.  When we let God’s dream for a whole world reign in our priorities for action, we concern ourselves with our faithfulness first rather than our productivity.  What if our absolute best intentions aren’t enough?  Does that mean we weren’t effective?  Where does our faithfulness to the mission of God fit in to the equation of “success”?  The world isn’t ours to win, it’s God’s.
  4. Provides the structure for participating. Look around.  Can you see God at work?  If not, look again.  If so, how are you joining in what God is already doing?  No need to scurry around and look for something to do, it is right in front of you.  What is right in front of you?  God’s will to redeem the world is right in front of you.
  5. The mission is the message.  The mission of God provides the freedom to take hold of God’s hope and healing through repentance and conversion.  There is not a need to create your own message. The message of the mission has already been given to us . . . “Thy Kingdom come, Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.”

What other reasons might you give to the indispensability of the mission of God in our church life?