Most of my life is spent outside the four walls of the church building. Twice per week I travel to the church and spend a few hours working with volunteers, staff, parents and kids. It amounts to an average of about six to seven hours per week, mostly on Sundays and Wednesdays. Then there is the preparation time during the week, plus the phone calls, visits, emails, and so on. These can add anywhere from five to 15 additional hours per week. So, I am very much part-time in my church involvement.
But what about the remainder of my waking hours? What about those times spent in the workplace, the marketplace and at home or in the city? When then? Do those experiences matter? Sometimes I feel as if my life is measured by church people only in terms of what I do on the church campus. There is some justification for that, as far as it goes. But surely life off campus has just as much, if not more, importance.
I constantly have interaction with people from all walks of life. Truck drivers. Artisans. Contractors. Salespersons. Retired folks. Homeless people. The occasional gang member, more by coincidence than by design. Public officials. Local television personalities. Illegal aliens. Drug addicts. Low level retail employees which are a ubiquitous presence in the various business establishments throughout the city. Poets. Musicians. Working poor.
The list goes on, but these represent examples of specific people with whom I recall having interaction over the past several months, all outside of the walls of the church building. Please don’t misunderstand. I have no quarrel with spending time on the church campus. I am simply pointing out that the majority of my life experiences take place outside of its sphere, mostly in the context of work and spending time in the marketplace acquiring goods to meet my needs and those of my family and church.
I suppose this is partly why I have placed an emphasis in my thinking and writing about how I might impact my culture more intentionally. For all the time I spend in the culture, I having this nagging sense that I leave less of an incarnational footprint on local society, than I do a carbon footprint on the local ecology. Thus, my impact is marginal at best. For if I lack intention in my missional purpose, then that will minimize the outcome of my life’s impact by virtue of my lack of deliberate involvement in the culture. Passive mission is no mission at all. It is simply symbolism, rather than substance; words, rather than action. Active mission informs the choices I make each and everyday within the rubric of specific, measureable and realistic goals. Active mission takes risks, engages the culture as a full participant in bringing about healing solutions to human pain, and proclaims with authority the gospel of Jesus Christ based on the incarnational platform of credibility for a life lived well.