Rev. Eugene Rivers was frustrated that he was losing so many kids to the streets. So he asked a drug dealer in the Four Corners section of Dorchester what he was doing wrong as a pastor. Why was he losing the battle for the kids on the street?
“It’s simple” the drug dealer replied. “When Johnny goes to school in the morning, I’m there and you’re not. When he comes home from school in the afternoon, I’m there and you’re not. When his grandmother sends him out for a loaf of bread at the corner store, I’m there and you’re not. I win, you lose.”
If you are confused by what “missional” means, that story explains it. The drug dealer is missional; the minister is not. The dealer lives sent while the pastor sits. The minister loses, but more importantly, so do the kids, the least, and the lost.
On the occasions Jesus was in synagogues and the temple, he was usually getting in trouble and was run out. It seems Jesus liked it that way. Rather than stay in the synagogues, Jesus went to the streets, sheep pastures, and sinners’ houses. Jesus carried the kingdom out of the temple and into the town.
I have a spent hundreds of hours with a friend who has been homeless for twenty years. I mentor at a public school. I have been a foster dad to a half-dozen boys. But mostly, I sit in an office inside a building called church. I have got to get out more.
So do you. If we are going to love and lead people in our post-Christian culture, we need to learn from drug dealers. More importantly, we need to learn that lesson from Jesus. America has changed, and if we don’t get out of our offices, we will lose. It’s that simple.