But How Do We Love Our Neighbors?

“Mission is not ours; mission is God’s. Certainly, the mission of God is the prior reality out of which flows any mission that we get involved in. Or, as has been nicely put, it is not so much the case that God has a mission for his church in the world but that God has a church for his mission in the world. Mission was not made for the church; the church was made for mission-God’s mission.”  ― Christopher Wright

God’s mission is to make all things new: to redeem and restore the world. His mission is for all to hear, know, believe, repent, and be raised to abundant life. In God’s grace, he not only comes to save us, but sends us out to participate in this magnificent mission. God sets sin’s captives free and they use that freedom to point others to their rescuer. God welcomes orphans into his family as they to invite others into the family. God brings to life those dying from sin, to proclaim the good news of resurrection. God invites us, through the gospel, into this mission. Jesus commands us to love our neighbors and then sends us to towns, villages, and cities.

A missional community is a group of people who are devoted to Jesus, to one another, and to their neighbors and city! They are disciples of Jesus who are committed to making more disciples of Jesus! Therefore, mission is not merely a monthly trip to feed the homeless or a trip to Africa to serve in an orphanage (although those are great things to do!). Mission is a primary and regular expression of gospel-centered community.

How Do We Love Our Cities Together?

We Speak and Serve

Jesus sends his disciples on the mission of preaching the gospel and confronting evil. Missional communities speak the gospel to their neighbors and the poor, they will also demonstrate God’s grace, justice, and love through their actions. Gospel word and deed is simultaneous, just as Jesus preached the gospel of the kingdom and brought the kingdom as he healed. A community centered on Jesus does not stay safe and secluded from the world but runs toward it or better: it invites others into it.

Your community is called, by Jesus, to make disciples and care for the poor. Which is not two callings but one. As you care for the poor, you invite others to follow Jesus. As you invite people to follow Jesus, you care for the poor. As you invite people to follow Jesus, you invite them to care for the marginalized. As you care for the marginalized, you speak the truth of the gospel. As you invite people to follow Jesus, you bless them with words, actions, and gifts. You show them grace as you speak grace. Participating in God’s mission is word and deed; speaking and doing.

We Seek Relationship and Justice

The people you are called to love and disciple will have many needs. There will be service projects, collections, and donations. Emptying your pocket book will likely be part of following Jesus into his mission. Blessings and gifts will be prevalent.

The often forgotten gift and the hardest one to give is the gift of relationship. True care for the marginalized requires relationship with the vulnerable. It is through relationship that someone actually travels from being marginalized to being known. When someone becomes a friend and a member of a community, they are no longer being pushed to the outside of society but are being welcomed into the center of it. Imagine the people you are on mission with sitting at your dinner table, sharing a meal, and sharing stories with you. Imagine receiving new relationships from those you are sent to. The mission is not a project. The mission is people.

Brad A. Watson serves as a pastor of Soma Culver City in Los Angeles, California where he develops, coaches, and trains leaders to form communities that love God and serve the city. Brad is passionate about helping people live lives that reflect their belief and hope in Jesus. He lives in the west side of Los Angeles with his wife and their three kids.