It seems that in the church, there’s always been a wall between spiritual formation and missional engagement, like they were divorced a long time ago and everyone accepts this as "just the way things are". On this corner, we have those who are serious about spiritual transformation: they read their Bibles and pray and learn to stop yelling and interact with people in healthy ways. In the other corner, we have those who are serious about mission: they’re all about serving the poor and reaching out to those in need and stopping injustice. Mission-minded people don’t get bogged down with all that navel-gazing goofiness, right? And formation-minded people are so busy improving themselves they can’t be bothered improving the world, right? We divide ourselves up into camps and smugly assume the other side isn’t nearly as spiritual as we are.
But I think it’s time to renew the romance. It’s time to get the band back together. We need spiritual formation and missional living to kiss and make up and say some nice things about each other.
Because it’s not just that they belong together, it’s that each suffers without the other. Missional engagement is hindered by a lack of transformation ("So life with Christ has done what exactly for you?"), and spiritual transformation is stunted if we never engage and partner with God in mission. I believe if we attempted to engage in both kinds of activities simultaneously (which would be the definition of a missional spirituality), it would catalyze a reaction where both formation and mission would be taken further faster than if they were functioning alone. Spiritual transformation would be accelerated by missional engagement, and missional living would be accelerated by adding spiritual transformation to the mix.
A few questions I’m wrestling with, then:
- How do we re-imagine and re-shape the classic spiritual disciplines (solitude, study, meditation, prayer, etc) for a missional spirituality?
- What new kinds of disciplines might we engage in to propel us into everyday missional living?
- How do we re-imagine mission so it’s more organic and authentic, so that it flows naturally out of transformed people instead of awkwardly out of artificial programs?