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Gary Chapman is Missional

I spent the last seven days with my family at Maranatha Bible & Missionary Conference.  It was an amazing week.  One of the things that my wife and I enjoyed was learning from Gary Chapman, author of many books, including The Five Love Languages.  I learned a lot from Dr. Chapman, but throughout the week I learned something I didn’t expect: Gary Chapman is missional.

Let me be clear up front, I never heard Dr. Chapman use the term “missional.”  I’m not even sure he knows about the discussion surrounding the missional church.  But this I do know: Dr. Chapman epitomizes missional.

Before I explain why, let me tell you about a discussion I had recently with several other pastors.  We were sitting around the table at lunch discussing a certain event.  Several pastors mentioned that they wanted this event to reach the lost for Jesus Christ.  They wanted to make it attractive so that non-Christians would come and hear the Gospel.  They, in their words, wanted it to be “missional.”

In this conversation “missional” was a synonym for “evangelistic.”  Therefore, to be “missional” is to be “evangelistic,” in this case, to hold an event where a verbal proclamation of the Gospel would take place.  The missional church is passionate about evangelism, but it is not a synonym for evangelism.

One important summary of being “missional” is found in 2 Corinthians 5:18-20: “All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconcilation: that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting men’s sins against them.  And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation.  We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us.”

In this passage we learn that God is a missional God: God is passionate about reconciling the world to himself.  Through the Scriptures we learn that this reconciliation involves (I would say “begins with”) the salvation of individuals.  That is, this reconciliation is reconciling a sinful people to a holy God, which is only possible through the work of Jesus Christ (2 Cor. 5:21).  But God’s mission is bigger than the individual.  God’s mission is bigger than “getting into heaven.”  God’s mission is about making all things right again.  As Revelation 21:5 says, it is about making “all things new.”  All things includes relationships between God and people (as seen in Ephesians 2:1-10), relationships between people and people (as seen in Ephesians 2:11-22), and relationships between people and God’s creation.

The other thing we learn from this passage is that God gives His people a ministry of reconciliation.  That is, God has given us a “mission.”  Our mission is to promote reconciliation of every form.  This is where Gary Chapman comes in.

Gary Chapman has written many books and has gone around the world helping marriages, parents, and families.  He wants these relationships to be strong and, when they are broken, to be reconciled.  Now there is no question that Dr. Chapman wants to see people place their faith in Jesus Christ.  Christ is at the center of his message as the example and the means for reconciliation.  But Dr. Chapman is not simply an evangelist.  Dr. Chapman is a conference-speaker and a counselor.  Often Dr. Chapman is speaking to Christians and Christian families, so a lot of his messages aren’t technically “evangelistic” at all!  But all of his messages and his counseling promotes reconciliation. He is trying to help marriages, parents, and families be reconciled to God and to one another so that they might experience the relationship God desires for them.  This is why Gary Chapman is missional.

Not only is Gary Chapman missional, but Gary Chapman is a helpful example for the rest of us who want to be missional.  So often we get stuck in the rut that to be missional is to be an evangelist.  More specifically, when we speak of missional churches we get stuck in the rut that missional churches have a lot of evangelistic programs or events.  Don’t get me wrong: these things are missional.  But missional is so much bigger and broader than evangelism (see this article from David Dunbar).  Being missional is about being used by God in the ministry of reconciliation.  Being missional is about using our God-given strenths in our God-directed context (your home, neighborhood, work, school, etc) to be one of Christ’s ambassadors and to have a ministry of reconciliation.  Perhaps it is parenting.  Perhaps it is teaching.  Perhaps it is ______________ (you fill in the blank).

Being missional is truly the fulfillment of 1 Corinthians 10:31: doing everything for the glory of God.  And doing things for the glory of God involves doing things for God’s purpose, and God’s purpose is reconciliation with Him, with others, and with His creation.  It is in this way that we truly image God and fulfill His mission.

  1. August 3, 2009 at 11:15 am

    it’s very nice post
    Thanks to assists students improving their studies by providing useful articles related to education or others.

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