Monday, June 12, 2006

Capturing the Missional Heart of the Next Generation

My son, Sam, is nine. He is a terrific artist (really, I am not biased) who loves to draw superheroes, a passionate fencer (that is a swordsman with an epee, not someone who builds fences),and a huge fan of hobbits, elves, and the X-men. Now, given his age and interests, what would I say to him to get him engaged in missional living? As a dad, this is a question I think about from time and time and the answer is the reason Geoff and I founded Mission M Possible.

The heart of each generation cannot be bought, drafted, or inherited from their parents. It has to be captured. My son has no interest in serving on a missions committee (committee is either the language of corporations and business or the communist party) but is delighted at the opportunity to be a Field Agent for MMP. In fact, we go on the Mission M Possible website all the time, check out the surveillance photos, read the intelligence briefings, look at the map, and dream about the places we could be deployed. See, I've learned that if I want Sam to be excited about the kingdom, then maybe it would help to explain the kingdom in his language. He does not understand the WMU, the NAMB, the IMB, the RAs, or the Committee on Committees (my personal favorite). But if I ask him if he wants to be a not-so-secret agent for God, he will say yes. If I tell him we need several young men to grab their swords, mount their horses and fight dragons, he will say, "I'm in." His response to the call of Christ will almost entirely depend on whether the call captures his heart. Now the Holy Spirit does his work in this, to be sure. But often the Spirit works by speaking the language of the listener.

And why not? Jesus went to men with fishing nets in their hands and said, "follow me, and I will make you fishers of men." So today we call teenagers and children to missions and say, "come, follow Christ, the ultimate superhero!" Or we couch the concepts of church planting and evangelism in the language of espionage. Now, we have to make sure the metaphor works. And we need to be deliberate that we do not embrace a culture that is immoral or unethical. But what better than a godly knight? And what are church planters if not field agents for the kingdom? When King James first commissioned his translation of the Bible, people called Jesus "Lord" and knew what a Lord was, because they lived in a feudal system of government. In the nineties, people began to talk about Jesus as the "CEO" of your life. Sorry, but that language does nothing for my nine-year old. But tell them Jesus is a king and you are a knight of the kingdom and we are getting somewhere. C.S. Lewis got this - what better image of Jesus for kids than the world's biggest talking lion?

I'd love to hear your thoughts on this subject. And love to get feedback on our strategy to capture the missional hearts of the next generation. Check out and sign up to be a field agent. Your mission, should you choose to accept it, is to engage a generation in the adventure that is following Christ. Initiate sequence, on my count. 3...2...1.


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