Tension, Intentionality, and New Questions

One of the fundamental challenges my family and I are facing during Safer At Home is this: How can we continue to live missionally when our movements and interactions are so limited?

You may have heard those of us at the Church use the phrase “Circles of Awareness” in the past. Simply put, these circles are the natural and organic places where you live life, where you have access to building relationships and sharing the good news of Jesus. It is a practice in intentionality.

In the past, my circles have been fairly typical — home, work, neighborhood, my children’s schools, and playgroups. Yours may include the gym, clubs, etc.

If the idea of creating your own “Circles of Awareness” is new to you, here are the basic steps:

  • List the places where you interact and think through the relationships that God is allowing you to build in those places.
  • What needs do you notice?
  • Where do you see God working?
  • Are there one or two people in each of those circles who you could be intentional about serving, praying for, and opening up dialogue about spiritual things?

When we moved to Mount Horeb, I was thrilled about the opportunity to connect deeply to our new neighborhood and community. Ollie started kindergarten and I eagerly awaited opportunities to meet other families at field trips, birthday parties and school events. I keep my freezer stocked with popsicles to share with neighborhood kids when they come to the park in our backyard.

And then COVID-19 happened.

No more field trips or birthday parties. The neighborhood park in our backyard is now empty. Rec department classes are cancelled. Our hoped-for backyard VBS session this summer probably won’t happen. We can’t invite classmates over to play, community events are being cancelled, and we see our neighbors less often.

Confession time: For a while I just wrote off this time as a break — a time to focus on our family. “The season of intentional missional living will return again.” Certainly this was easier, but it left me feeling like the purpose that God has called our family to wasn’t being lived out. Then I tried fitting my old ideas of missional living into the current reality. That just created frustration and resentment.

Regardless of the environment or circumstance, however, God calls us to live as His light. He calls us to invest in the people in our lives. He calls us to generosity. He calls us to intentionally share the hope and love He provides with others in our lives.

I have had to accept some new realities. And I have started to ask myself some new questions. I haven’t settled on the answers yet, but I thought I’d share them with you in case you are grappling with this same tension of how to live missionally in a restricted world:

  • My original idea of these “Circles of Awareness” was primarily based on a “where” (locations, events, etc.). How can I change my understanding of those circles where God has placed me to a question of “Who?”.
  • Is there a mix of both?
  • Who am I currently connecting with on a regular basis?
  • Who/what am I missing the most? How can I use that as a catalyst to create a new “circle”?
  • What CAN I do in my neighborhood?
  • What resentment or frustration is getting in the way of me seeing a door that God might be opening?

These are the questions that I’m going to pray about. The ones that I will bring up with Micah and the kids.

How would you answer them? How is your previous understanding of missional living being altered by this current reality? Perhaps you can take some time this week to list out those new “circles” in your life, and the people who make up those circles, where you can be intentional in living out the love of Jesus.

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