Posts Tagged ‘missional living’

“We do not have time to waste our lives coasting out casual, comfortable Christianity.”

— David Platt, author of “Radical,” addresses the Urbana 2012 conference.

“What plan or dream will you give your life to that is more significant than this?”

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Something special happened last week at the National College Media Convention in Chicago.

As some 2,000 students and advisers came to the Sheraton Hotel to sharpen their journalism skills, network with each other and accept awards, one track of faith-related sessions took things deeper. A lot deeper. In fact, I believe we are seeing the beginning of a movement of God.

In one session, photographer Darrell Goemaat from the Regular Baptist Press showed how God has placed him and his incredible skills into a full-time ministry position. Other sessions featured two fairly recent journalism grads who now work for a Christian relief agency; the Chicago Tribune’s religion reporter; and two veteran advisers helping students through the challenges of covering news on a Christian campus.

The deputy managing editor of Christianity Today, Tim Morgan, took a full hour to walk through several gospel passages and show students and advisers that Jesus can indeed be their role model as a journalist. I’m willing to bet that it was the first time anyone ever exposited scripture at a journalism convention.

Lincoln Brunner and I talked about our career paths, how God has called us to missionary journalism … and what it might look like for students seeking to follow God in that direction. While we expected that the students would be interested in what we had to say, their level of buy-in absolutely floored us.

At one point as various students – from both public and private colleges and universities – were talking about their desire to serve God with their vocations, a question popped into my mind. Again, it was one that may never have been asked at a journalism convention. But, what the heck.

“How many of you are sensing God tapping you on the shoulder and prompting you to do something specific?” I asked. Most of the hands in the room went up. Probably the closest I’ll ever come to an altar call.

So we talked through some of those promptings. Many felt called to some form of missionary journalism. Others mentioned humanitarian work … sharing their faith with someone … doing video documentaries … “speaking for the unspoken.”

In response to our potential missionary journalism internship in Costa Rica, one graduate student emailed us later: “I cannot describe the tug in my heart, nor the beckoning I feel toward this opportunity. I only know that it is of Him and that I’m ready to take a risk for Christ.” She also blogged about the convention’s Faith track and how it impacted her.

All this at a college journalism convention. We certainly claim no credit. It was sure fun to have a front-row seat, though. God is beginning to open doors, and minds, to amazing possibilities: Telling stories of what he is up to around the world, and how people can get involved.

Seems to me that is a recipe to help start a revival. Or at least to cover one.

I took some time this morning to reflect on 2010, which in many ways appears to have been a year of preparation for my wife and me.

Last summer, I went through the popular book, “What Color is Your Parachute?” which includes a hidden jewel of a section about finding your mission in life. Here’s what author Richard N. Bolles says that means:

  1. To seek to stand hour by hour in the conscious presence of God, the one from whom your mission is derived.
  2. To do what you can, moment by moment, day by day, step by step, to make this world a better place, following the leading and guiding of God’s spirit within you and around you.
  3. a) To exercise the talent that you particularly came to earth to use – your greatest gift, which you most delight to use; b) in the place(s) or setting(s) that God has caused to appeal to you the most; c) and for those purposes that God most needs to have done in the world.

Bolles adds: “We also need to unlearn that our unique Mission must consist of some achievement for all the word to see…”

Then there’s this, from Frederick Buechner’s “Wishful Thinking – A Theological ABC” :

 “The kind of work God usually calls you to is the kind of work a) that you most need to do and b) the world most needs to have done. If you really get a kick out of your work, you’ve presumably met requirement a), but if your work is writing TV deodorant commercials, the chances are you’ve missed requirement b). On the other hand, if your work is being a doctor in a leper colony, you probably have met b), but if most of the time you’re bored and depressed by it, the chances are you haven’t only bypassed a) but probably aren’t helping your patients much either. …The place God calls you to is the place where deep gladness and the world’s deep hunger meet.”

In “The Next Christians,” author Gabe Lyons puts it this way: “Where your talents and your heart come together, this is where God has called you to be. … Where your gifts and natural skills collide with your deepest burdens, you have calling.”

Bolles’ “Parachute” book is updated annually and is a wonderful resource for anyone contemplating a career change — and that’s a whole lot of people right now.

I think we also should be careful not to get so caught up in calculating and planning and finding the career that fits us best, that we don’t leave room for God to totally surprise us, calling us to something / someplace we never would have thought of.  Solomon wrote: “Many are the plans in a man’s heart, but it is the Lord’s purpose that prevails.” (Prov. 19:21)

 It’s easy to begin strategizing about life and career, and quickly forget about prayer and earnestly seeking God. When both sides of that equation are done in proper balance, God’s calling can start taking shape.