Relational Influence – being missional in Bend

This is something I put together for the church publication. Not the final edit… but it sums up what I am thinking about a lot of things.

My thoughts regarding my first writing for this publication center on the purpose I believe God has laid on my life for this time… and perhaps for the rest of my life even. It has been a process of letting go really… something that would not seem a logical progression as I spend an increasing amount of time in central Oregon. Shouldn’t we be growing and developing more structure and seeing more people and having more commitment and developing more leaders? This, to me, seems more like carrying more weight not less. So when I say I have been letting go, it feels like there is less structure, less people, and not the growth that I want much too desperately to have.

And yet, influence happens. Missional (the intentional “being out there… looking out there”) happens. And it is something that I have to let go of. I have to let go into the trusting, faithful, day-to-day reliance on God to use me in the face-to-face encounters of every day. This idea of influence is something that we as a Sunday night community have been praying about constantly and encouraging each other to see. Influence does not necessarily mean more bodies on a weekly gathering. It does not necessarily mean that we create an attractive community that has identified itself, has a name and its own character, and that people really want to be a part of. These things happen in time through much prayer and much preparation. Relational influence happens now. Today. For all of us.

Relationships are happening now. Conversations are happing today. And this is one area where we are called to be missional. This is one area where we begin to look outside of our church community and get really “into” our greater community. This, perhaps, is the very place we are called at which to start. I have begun to see that with every person I meet, with every person I engage in a conversation with, my life changes. My life changes… and so does theirs. We can no longer be the same. Beyond this, with each person we meet a whole new realm of possibility and potential opens before us. As I think of how we are all created… in the image of God… and who we are meant to be… the image of Christ, I cannot look at another person without considering the incredible potential they have. God has made us to be increasingly grown into his image and at the core of this image is a relational being, for this is who God is as the Trinity. And so the very essence of our need to be relational and to change with every person we meet is in our created being. Life is ALIVE!

This letting go, at least for me, tends to be a relentless reliance on God to be present in his Spirit through every person I encounter. I don’t know who I will meet or where it will go, but I am ready for anything. Listening, responding, and changing. Growing. Expanding. And as this begins to become reality, I find that indeed I am making a difference even if it is in a small way. I am showing people a fragment of who Christ is. No, it is not all those things that account for the weight and growth that I sometimes want to carry. It is not what some would say is the mark of a successful ministry. But it is broad and it is deep. Because I know that when I have engaged in relationship with someone, I am changed and I have faith that through the presence of the Spirit, they are changed as well.

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