Are you a pastor looking for a way to engage with the community? Or, are you a member of a church where the pastor keeps talking about “being missional?” Maybe you’re from Allen County and you’ve heard about Revive: Allen County and have been wondering what it’s all about. In any of these, there’s a single word that sums up what is going on: Sentness.
Since the beginning of 2018, I’ve been leading a Sunday School class at our church. My lessons are based on a book called Sentness: Six Postures of Missional Christians by Kim Hammon and Darren Cronshaw. While I’ve led Bible studies and preached many times, going in I felt challenged by the topic and the accompanying mindset shift that underlies a missional approach.
What is Sentness?
Several times I’ve been asked about the name of the book. Whenever I say “Sentness,” it’s almost always followed up by “Huh?” Honestly, it’s not a real word in the sense of opening the dictionary and finding it. Instead, we have to look at the two pieces that make up the word sentness. The latter is easy: ness is a suffix that indicates a condition.
Sent is defined by its usage in the New Testament. Apostellō (G649) is the original Greek word used over 140 times in the Bible for our word “sent.” I really like the Strong’s definition: “to send out (properly, on a mission).”
Together, sentness means we have embraced and are living out our mission given to us by Jesus in the Great Commission.
I believe this is the underlying crux of the book: the connection we should have to our community. In essence, a missional church should always be looking to meet needs. Jesus didn’t tell us to win souls: He told us to go make disciples. But it’s deeper than that: again, looking at the original Greek word used for “go”, it’s closer to the idea of as you go. As you go to work. As you go to school. As you go shopping.
In other words, be aware of what is going on in the community you are a part of and make disciples during your daily routine. We should be reaching the lost through our actions and involvement in their lives. Have you ever noticed how the longer you’re a Christian, the fewer friends you have that aren’t? While unbelieving friends might have a negative influence on us, we shouldn’t pull ourselves out of our community for fear of what might happen. Rather, as we’re in the world — as we go — be missional.
Is this a six-step program?
I wish it was. I’m being honest here, I wish there was a magic step by step program I could offer you or I could follow myself. The reality is that being missional is a shift in our mindset. It involves everything from knowing the person who sits ahead of you in the pew to the neighbor you haven’t spoken to before. It means that when we see a need, we step up to the plate and do what we can to help.
Six Postures of Missional Christians
There are six big ideas presented in the book, each building on the other.
- Sent people understand that God has a mission and that mission has a church.
- Submerged ministries follow Jesus and move among places and people.
- Shalom spirituality seeks to restore individuals and communities.
- Safe places give shelter to people from diverse backgrounds.
- Sharing life helps to form teams around a common vision.
- Standing in the gap empowers leaders and missional experiments.
Will this book change my life?
If you’re sitting here asking me that question, my answer is “I hope it does.” I hope it helps to change me too. If there’s one outcome I’ve already witnessed so far in my own life, it’s that I try to be more aware when I’m in retail stores of who is around me, how I treat them and being kind in small ways. No, that’s not all a missional mindset is about — but it’s a start.
That’s what I’d recommend you do after reading it: start where you’re at now, and gradually adopt the attitudes the authors presented. I’m a big believer in starting small and working your way into new habits. I predict that being missional isn’t just the latest fad in Christianity, but will instead represent a fundamental change in the way we do church. Go big or go home doesn’t apply here. Start small and build on your successes is more appropriate.
Do I recommend this book?
If you’re willing to have your thinking challenged, then yes. The authors don’t hold back on talking about sensitive topics and they share success story after success story of missional-focused churches. You can pick it up on Amazon for about $11. Give it a read and send me an email with your thoughts — I’d love to hear what you think!
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