I hesitate to talk about "our missional journey", partly because missional has become a somewhat overused buzz word and partly because our journey might not look that missional by some standards. But a missional journey it is all the same. Our particular journey may not be as intentional as some, but it is moving along. Sometimes we don't see the movement, it just seems to happen around us. Perhaps that's a good thing. When people ask us what we are doing, I usually reply that we are learning to live in the community as ordinary people and that we're trying to see what God is doing and join in with him.
We've never tried to define that with any sense of accuracy or precision. On the other hand, we've always known that it has a lot to do with building friendships that are not predicated on an evangelistic goal. We are friends because we are friends and not because we're looking for an outreach project. Somehow we have to balance that with a sense of intentionality, the idea that we want to share our faith with the folk we've come to know, but never as the sole goal of being friends. As I've said, we are friends because we are friends.
So it is that we find ourselves doing things we might never have imagined doing 5 or 10 years ago. I coach tennis and I look after a rugby team doing therapy and pitch-side first aid. We'd never have thought that this is how our journey would take shape. And even if we did imagine it, it's interesting how it's grown through others and not ourselves. I was asked to get involved with the rugby club through a contact made through my time volunteering as a student therapist at another club. I tried to start some adult tennis on my terms, but that didn't work and then along came someone else asking about courts and lessons and here we are.
It makes me think of one of John Kramp's "laws of lostology" from his book Out of their faces and into their shoes. Over time I've probably adjusted his original intention, but a quick look at my blog post about the book reminds me that what we are currently trying to do is to be involved in the search (Law 23). Simply by being out there, wherever "there" might be, in our case it's a tennis court or a rugby pitch, we're putting ourselves where people can meet us and we can meet them. Conversations happen, friendships form, relationships build. Always praying and hoping that an opportunity will arise to share something of our faith that will nudge people towards the kingdom.
Is that enough? For some it isn't. That's okay, I can live with that, I can give thanks for the difference. I'm not one for measuring my missional effectiveness only by how many times I get to share the story of Jesus, important as it is. I want people to hear, the understand and to know they have a choice to make. But I'm also convinced that we are often only part of one person's journey and leaving them ready for the next step is a crucial part of our responsibility.
So we will continue to take a slow approach. We won't try to pouch things along any faster than they are able to go. Sometimes that will probably mean that we won't push hard enough, but rather that than push too hard too often. It's a learning curve anyway.