To be missional, in short, means that God has a mission and God’s mission has a church. God doesn’t need us to do his work for him. God is at work and invites us to join him in his work. It’s a privilege. The key to mission, then, is being in a right relationship with God. Unless we are in a right relationship with God, we won’t hear him very well.
I bet you understand how this works in human relationships. When a relationship or fellowship is going well, everyone feels respected and understood. Communication is pretty easy. It is not hard to work on things together. Collaboration is natural. It’s easy to talk, solve problems, and make plans. You come away from times together feeling respected and understood. But if someone is feeling offended or unappreciated, communication becomes difficult, it is hard to work together, and the problem spreads. Feeling offended can be contagious.
It is inevitable that problems will emerge in relationships and fellowships. All people sin and naturally offend. The Bible is clear on that (Romans 3:23, for example, or just read Judges for a book of illustrations on that point).
So there are two questions for us in terms of community (IN). 1) How can we keep our fellowship healthy? and 2) What can we do about it when things go bad? There’s also questions for our relationship with God (UP): How can we do our part to hear from God? And all of this relates to mission (OUT): What do we need to do to understand where God calling us into service?
The solutions to these questions are a little different, but they have one thing in common: Personal confession of sin.
When we confess our sins, God is faithful and just to forgive our sins and will purify us from unrighteousness… (I John 1:8-2:2) James says, “Confess your sins to one another and pray for each other so you’ll be healed. (James 5:16) David gave a great model of confession in Psalm 51. Confession is powerful. It restores relationships.
I learned this in friendship, marriage, and family over the years. When I start by confessing my sins to God, I begin to see how I offend others. The grace I receive from God gives me strength to acknowledge to others my part in causing offence. That brings healing. At least it does most of the time. Relationships can be tricky. All people sin, you know.
But reconciliation is part of God’s mission in the world. We can’t be missional if we can’t confess sin. Without it there is no reconciliation with God or people.
This is a growing area for us, but our missional community has grown closer as we’ve become more comfortable doing this. We confess sin in times of prayer together. We are learning this skill and are certainly novices. But as we are growing in this skill, I see evidence of God’s grace growing in our relationships (IN) and service (OUT).
But confessing in the presence of others begins, I believe, with a habit of confessing in private. That’s not easy for me. I can gloss over it in my prayers.
Henry Cloud said, “If you lack discipline, add structure.” I find structure helps me to confess. So I want to make this post practical. Here are a few questions I use during my own times of private, personal confession. I do not use these questions to replace the prompting of the Holy Spirit. If I ask God to help me to recognize areas of sin in my life, God does! But these questions represent areas that need regular attention for me and that I might neglect without structure. I offer them as an example. You may want to create a list of questions yourself, questions that help you confess. Here’s mine:
- Who do I need to forgive?
- Am I answering the call to be a husband and dad?
- Am I keeping a Sabbath weekly?
- Am I answering the call to preach?
- Am I equipping disciples to be disciples who make disciples?
- Am I acknowledging God in all my ways?
- Is my mind set on earthly things?
- Is my heart set on Christ?
- Am I listening for the Spirit?
- Am I thankful to the Father?
- Am I blaming anyone for anything?
- Am I thankful to others? Am I telling them?
- Am I praising God regardless of circumstance?
- Do I appreciate the people in my life? Am I loving my neighbors?
- Am I a faithful steward of resources?
- Am I anxious, hurried, or worried?
- Do I have compassion for broken people? sinners? people who are mean?
- Am I working on what is most important?
- Am I wasting time on distractions?
- Am I doing what is right and important or what is easy?
- Am I maintaining a sustainable pace?
- Am I finding security and significance in God?
If we confess our sins, God is faithful and just and will forgive our sins. In the name of Jesus Christ, you and I are forgiven. Alleluia! Amen!