Note from Launch Team Meeting (Aug 1, 2009) – What does it mean to be ‘missional’?

What does it mean to be Missional?

Luke 5:27-39 27 After this he went out and saw a tax collector named Levi, sitting at the tax booth. And he said to him, “Follow me.”  28 And leaving everything, he rose and followed him.  29 And Levi made him a great feast in his house, and there was a large company of tax collectors and others reclining at table with them.  30 And the Pharisees and their scribes grumbled at his disciples, saying, “Why do you eat and drink with tax collectors and sinners?”  31 And Jesus answered them, “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick.  32 I have not come to call the righteous but sinners to repentance.”


Are you ready to follow Jesus in a Missional way? – By missional I mean living with an awareness that the world we live in needs Jesus and intentionally seeking ways to bring Jesus into that world.

From the call, response, and subsequent actions of Levi and the circumstances that surround him, Jesus, and the disciples, we learn a bit more about what it means to follow Jesus in a missional way.

Missional is being RADICAL and at times seemingly irrational.

Levi responds immediately to Jesus’ call to follow (literally – ‘keep following me’ and ‘he kept following him’). He left everything.

I say this act of following is ‘seemingly’ irrational, because it is truly irrational only if Jesus is not who He claims to be. If He is Messiah, Lord, Son of God, and Savior, to not follow Him fully would be irrational.

Missional people are moved by the call of Jesus and understanding who it is that gives the call.

Missional is being RELATIONAL – Following Jesus means that we remain as friends of sinners.

Usually everyone is a friend of sinners at some point in life. Though it is possible to grow up in total isolation (Christian home, church, school, friends), this is not the norm. Most people when they come to Christ have a network of relationships that include many non-believers. Unfortunately early on this network is broken.

The enemies of Jesus called both Jesus and his disciples “friends of sinners” beacuse this was an obvious reality in their lives.

For Levi, he has just answered the call. He hasn’t burned the bridges of relationships. He still has friends who aren’t followers of Jesus and he seeks a venue to which they would come and where he could introduce Jesus to them. This leads to my next point.

Missional is being RESOURCEFUL – Following Jesus means that we create opportunities for our friends to meet Jesus Christ.

I love church gatherings with God’s people but at the same time, I love the words of C. T. Studd, that brilliant young Englishman who gave away a fortune that he might go out to the forests of Africa. He put his philosophy this way:

Some like to dwell
Within the sound
Of church and chapel bell.
But I want to run a rescue shop
Within a yard of Hell.

Levi knew his friends well enough to know what kind of venue they would come to. I believe that all of us need to be more thoughtful, prayerful, and intentional in creating venues where we can invite our friends and neighbors and Jesus. The choice of these venues is driven by what honors Christ and what is attractive to sinners, rather than what is ‘approved’ by institutaional Christianity.

Missional is being RISKY.  Following Jesus means that we live with the risk of criticism and misunderstanding

Being missional often means that you act contrary to religious culture. This is not the intent (how can I PO other Christians), but is often the result, when your sensibilities are such that you think about pleasing God and loving and reaching people, not looking over your shoulder for approval from man.

  • Criticism arises from a false comparison (disciples of Jesus to disciples of John and Pharisess).
  • Criticism arises from the failure to see the uniqueness of Christ and His mission.
  • Criticism is based more on the fear of change than a question of what honors Jesus Christ.
  • Criticism is often rooted in a fear of loss of power.

Missional is being REDEMPTIVE

I take Jesus words about ‘coming to call sinners to repentance’ as a probing invitation to everyone as much as a rebuke to the Pharisees.

Everyone listening would have had to ask themselves the question: Am I sinner? If I don’t think so, if I think I am righteous, then Jesus did not come for me.

Being missional must always come back to the question: Why did Jesus come? Lk 19:10 – “For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost” (which by the way was spoken to another tax collector).


Grace Church of Philly is looking to build a core launch team of believers who desire to follow Jesus in a Missional way – living with awareness that the world we live in needs Jesus and intentionally seeking ways to bring Jesus into that world.


On September 10, 1970 I came to understand the great love of God for me, a sinner and a rebel. That evening I received God’s forgiveness and a new life through Jesus Christ, who died in my place and rose again to offer forgiveness and new life. I have been senior pastor for over 30 years planting two churches in Buckingham, PA and Queens, NY and serving two other churches in Brooklyn, NY and Roslyn, PA. I am currently the lead pastor at Grace Church of Philly.

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