Can we be missional in spaces we control?

“The deepest reality of life in the Spirit depicted in the book of Acts is that the disciples of Jesus rarely, if ever, go where they want to go or to whom they would want to go. Indeed the Spirit seems to always be pressing the disciples to go to those to whom they would in fact strongly prefer never to share space, or a meal, and definitely not life together. Yet it is precisely this prodding to be boundary-crossing and border-transgressing that marks the presence of the Spirit of God.” – Dr. Willie James Jennings


We are all becoming more familiar with existing in the state of not being in control. And it is hard. Psychiatrists will tell you that a lack of control is a significant component to the impact of traumatic experiences. So much so, even therapy becomes traumatic when the patient has no control within that setting.

For many of us therefore, control is something that we seek at almost any cost. We build it into our relationships, our finances, and our futures as if the gaining of control is somehow equivalent to maturity. Our lives are structured to pursue it and build walls of protection around it as if it is as important as the air we breathe.

What if… what if every time we take control it removes control from someone else? Or maybe that is exactly the point of it – it somehow lifts us above the crowd around us. Which is good and right when those around us are hurtful, abusive, or toxic; and it is helpful when you are trying to exist without the support of others or to be “successful”.

The problem is, control is fundamentally opposed to how the kingdom of God operates. Through Acts the disciples learn that the Spirit’s presence removes control. When did we forget this and think we could be a missional presence in environments that we have completely shaped and structured? The Spirit’s mission requires us to be in Judea, Samaria, and the ends of the earth – the unfamiliar spaces we have not crafted and are not in control of what takes place.

Please hear this: we cannot help others grow to be the followers of Jesus they are being called to be in the controlled and sanitised ecosystems of Sunday morning services and weekly Bible studies. We must lead them into spaces where neither of us are in control and join in the flow of God’s Spirit.

You may not want to give that talk, or be in that church, or live in that community; and maybe those are the beginnings of God leading you down a different path. But what if that is God leading you to the place his Spirit is churning up the waters?

This pandemic has ripped control from many of our churches, and there has been a move of God’s Spirit in saving work not seen in this country in a long time. Let’s not quench the Spirit and count down the days until we are in control again. Instead, let us make moves now to forever push us into spaces we do not control. For this is where the Spirit is. This is where God’s kingdom flourishes, grows, and makes itself known.

Please pray for your local churches as they wrestle with how little control they have, both as they heal from its traumas and as they humble themselves to join in what the Spirit is doing here beside them. Pray that they would be brave and choose to enter more spaces they have no control of to make disciples and announce that God’s kingdom has come.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s