'Missional Living' explores core areas for growth, study

by Tabitha Frizzell, posted Tuesday, June 22, 2004 (15 years ago)

INDIANAPOLIS (BP)--For Christians desiring to carry out God's mission, there are seven core competencies. During the "Missional Living" workshops at the national Woman's Missionary Union Missions Celebration and Annual Meeting, women explored worldview, relationships, communication, ministry, leadership and spirituality, all of which are intertwined with the seventh competency, Scripture.

Before discussing "Missional Worldview," Andrea Mullins, national WMU Missions Leadership Development Team leader, asked each participant to describe her worldview in three sentences or less. Few felt prepared for the task.

"Understand that everyone has a worldview and that worldview drives your life, whether you know it or not," Mullins said.

According to Mullins, a worldview lies beneath every aspect of a person's life and is reflected in her behaviors.

"When we begin to see everything -- the experiences that we have, what we're thinking, what we're feeling, the values that we have, all that we believe -- when we begin to see that come together, that's when we become whole people," she said.

Because most people fail to recognize the assumptions driving their actions, they fail to question those assumptions. Fortunately, Mullins said, worldviews are open to change.

"Our goal is to see the world through God's eyes, to have His worldview," she said. "That's why it's so important to step out of our culture and take a risk. When we step out of our comfort zones, it allows God to break into our assumptions. All of a sudden He teaches us something about Himself that we did not understand."

Breaking out of cultural comfort zones was also a focus point for Clysta de Armas, Florida WMU president, in "Missional Relationships." To demonstrate the difficulty faced by non-English speakers, de Armas opened the workshop by reading Scripture and instructing the group in Spanish. The audience acknowledged the discomfort of being in a session presented in a foreign language.

Participants discussed potential difficulties as well as ministry opportunities presented by the growing multi-cultural nature of the United States. Through case studies, the group explored the many needs of immigrant families and discussed ways they would work to meet those needs.

De Armas suggested careful study of other cultures in preparation for ministry.

"Because we don't understand the culture of another, we may inadvertently offend," she said. "We have to be careful of the way we talk as well as gesture. Even more difficult than learning a language is learning a culture."

Communicating the authentic love of God takes more than mere words, as Evelyn Blount, South Carolina WMU executive director, demonstrated in "Missional Communication."

"The Bible becomes a living letter expressed by my life and my words," Blount said. Expressing unconditional love and building authentic relationships are ways for Christians to live out the Word.

"The way you witness to postmoderns is relational," she said. "They see Jesus through the authenticity of who we are. They don't seek to understand God but to experience His presence. They will embrace a life of personal experience."

In sharing a personal testimony with postmoderns, she said the focus should not be on a salvation experience that occurred decades ago. What they want to hear is how it is relevant in your life today.

Christians have a tendency to move within Christian circles rather than go outside. Blount challenged her audience to sacrifice time to build relationships since that is how Christ is communicated through the missional life.

Connie Dixon, New Mexico WMU president, presented a self-directed study designed to help women identify God's calling to ministry and explore avenues through which to meet that call. Judith Edwards, New Mexico Missions Education and Women's Ministry director, developed the study used in the "Missional Ministry" workshop.

Bible study is the key to following God's direction into ministry.

"Study and recognize where God is in and around you," Dixon said. "Recognize what it is He is calling you to do. If you are spending time with God, you will know immediately if you're headed in the right direction."

Just as all Christians are called to roles in ministry, each has the potential to lead. Joyce Mitchell, national WMU Staff Leadership Development Team leader, guided discussion on "Missional Leadership."

"A role of leadership is more than just a formal designation," Mitchell said. "Every believer has the potential of influencing others. Who do you influence today?"

She examined the responsibilities of servant leadership using "The Servant Leader: Transforming Your Heart, Head, Hands and Habits" by Ken Blanchard and Phil Hodges. If Jesus is the model for servant leadership, a leader's motivation, vision, behavior and use of time should reflect Christ.

Sylvia DeLoach, national WMU missions innovator, encouraged participants to inspect their sense of spirituality by going through a set of activities designed to help them think creatively about the concept of "Missional Spirituality."

"We don't operate in a vacuum," DeLoach said. "Spirituality does not mean the same to all." Some activities in the workshop aimed to "expose the broader view of what the world thinks in terms of spirituality so we can discuss our own view of God," she said.

According to Mitchell, the idea of core competencies for a missional life will be an underlying principle for national WMU leadership as they organize programming, conferences and workshops in coming years. Workshops at a national WMU event in 2005 in Ridgecrest, N.C., will be based on these concepts.

Mitchell also offered assurance that "missional" is a valid, defined term. "It's not a Southern Baptist word," she said. "I thought it was a coined word at first because we're great about coining words. Missional is an adjective that describes leaders who are attempting to carry out God's mission in their lives. It's a term that has much broader usage within evangelical Christianity."


Before discussing "Missional Worldview," Andrea Mullins, national WMU Missions Leadership Development Team leader, asked each participant to describe her worldview in three sentences or less. Few felt prepared for the task.

"Understand that everyone has a worldview and that worldview drives your life, whether you know it or not," Mullins said.

According to Mullins, a worldview lies beneath every aspect of a person's life and is reflected in her behaviors.

"When we begin to see everything -- the experiences that we have, what we're thinking, what we're feeling, the values that we have, all that we believe -- when we begin to see that come together, that's when we become whole people," she said.

Because most people fail to recognize the assumptions driving their actions, they fail to question those assumptions. Fortunately, Mullins said, worldviews are open to change.

"Our goal is to see the world through God's eyes, to have His worldview," she said. "That's why it's so important to step out of our culture and take a risk. When we step out of our comfort zones, it allows God to break into our assumptions. All of a sudden He teaches us something about Himself that we did not understand."

Breaking out of cultural comfort zones was also a focus point for Clysta de Armas, Florida WMU president, in "Missional Relationships." To demonstrate the difficulty faced by non-English speakers, de Armas opened the workshop by reading Scripture and instructing the group in Spanish. The audience acknowledged the discomfort of being in a session presented in a foreign language.

Participants discussed potential difficulties as well as ministry opportunities presented by the growing multi-cultural nature of the United States. Through case studies, the group explored the many needs of immigrant families and discussed ways they would work to meet those needs.

De Armas suggested careful study of other cultures in preparation for ministry.

"Because we don't understand the culture of another, we may inadvertently offend," she said. "We have to be careful of the way we talk as well as gesture. Even more difficult than learning a language is learning a culture."

Communicating the authentic love of God takes more than mere words, as Evelyn Blount, South Carolina WMU executive director, demonstrated in "Missional Communication."

"The Bible becomes a living letter expressed by my life and my words," Blount said. Expressing unconditional love and building authentic relationships are ways for Christians to live out the Word.

"The way you witness to postmoderns is relational," she said. "They see Jesus through the authenticity of who we are. They don't seek to understand God but to experience His presence. They will embrace a life of personal experience."

In sharing a personal testimony with postmoderns, she said the focus should not be on a salvation experience that occurred decades ago. What they want to hear is how it is relevant in your life today.

Christians have a tendency to move within Christian circles rather than go outside. Blount challenged her audience to sacrifice time to build relationships since that is how Christ is communicated through the missional life.

Connie Dixon, New Mexico WMU president, presented a self-directed study designed to help women identify God's calling to ministry and explore avenues through which to meet that call. Judith Edwards, New Mexico Missions Education and Women's Ministry director, developed the study used in the "Missional Ministry" workshop.

Bible study is the key to following God's direction into ministry.

"Study and recognize where God is in and around you," Dixon said. "Recognize what it is He is calling you to do. If you are spending time with God, you will know immediately if you're headed in the right direction."

Just as all Christians are called to roles in ministry, each has the potential to lead. Joyce Mitchell, national WMU Staff Leadership Development Team leader, guided discussion on "Missional Leadership."

"A role of leadership is more than just a formal designation," Mitchell said. "Every believer has the potential of influencing others. Who do you influence today?"

She examined the responsibilities of servant leadership using "The Servant Leader: Transforming Your Heart, Head, Hands and Habits" by Ken Blanchard and Phil Hodges. If Jesus is the model for servant leadership, a leader's motivation, vision, behavior and use of time should reflect Christ.

Sylvia DeLoach, national WMU missions innovator, encouraged participants to inspect their sense of spirituality by going through a set of activities designed to help them think creatively about the concept of "Missional Spirituality."

"We don't operate in a vacuum," DeLoach said. "Spirituality does not mean the same to all." Some activities in the workshop aimed to "expose the broader view of what the world thinks in terms of spirituality so we can discuss our own view of God," she said.

According to Mitchell, the idea of core competencies for a missional life will be an underlying principle for national WMU leadership as they organize programming, conferences and workshops in coming years. Workshops at a national WMU event in 2005 in Ridgecrest, N.C., will be based on these concepts.

Mitchell also offered assurance that "missional" is a valid, defined term. "It's not a Southern Baptist word," she said. "I thought it was a coined word at first because we're great about coining words. Missional is an adjective that describes leaders who are attempting to carry out God's mission in their lives. It's a term that has much broader usage within evangelical Christianity."


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