The Missional Mandate for Christians

As followers of Jesus, Christians have a missional[1] mandate (Matt. 28:18-20). Christians are pupils and apprentices. We follow Jesus and we do as He did. We give our lives away in love and we tell people about the good news of Jesus. To be a disciple is to be missional. We are not true disciples if we are not missional.

We lovingly engage with the people around us. We do not shut ourselves off in “God ghettos,” we do not create Christian castles. Jesus said that we are to be lights in a dark world (Matt. 5:15).[2] Paul said we are not to leave the world (1 Cor. 5:9-11) but be messengers of the King in the world (2 Cor. 5:20).

So, we as followers of Jesus…

Leave the “bubble”

We remove excess emphasis on Christian bubble activities and programs and instead spend time relationally engaging together with peers, neighbors, and coworkers. We are intentionally in the world. Jesus intentionally went to the world, He left heaven. He incarnated Himself (Matt. 1:22-23; Jn. 1:14; Phil. 2:7).

We follow our King and we enter the world in love (Matt. 5:13-16; Eph. 5:8; Phil. 2:15; 1 Pet. 2:12 cf. 1 Cor. 5:9-10; Jn. 17:15-16).

Learn the culture

We return to culture together and learn from it to engage people with the good news of Jesus as we see Jesus and the Apostle Paul did (1 Cor. 9:19-23). Jesus spoke the language of the people around Him. He gave illustrations that made sense. He spent time at “coffee shops” with the local riff-raff. He met unreputable people at the local watering hole (Jn. 4). Paul too engaged culture (Acts 17:22-34). He had important and relevant discussions with people at the Hall of Tyrannus (Acts 19:9).

We follow our King when we enter into our neighbors’ world.

Love our neighbors

We relay God’s love with no strings attached. We practice the Great Commandment. We love God with all we are and we love our neighbors. The Bible repeatedly communicates that loving our neighbors is a big deal (Lev. 19:18; Matt. 19:19; 22:36-40; Mk. 12:31-33; Lk. 10:27; Rom. 13:9; Gal. 5:14; James 2:8).

We love people where they are, no matter where they are. We don’t see them as “projects” for us to work on.

Listen to others wisely

We respond to conversations in a way that makes the most of every opportunity. That means that we love people and listen. And the Bible says to take advantage of each opportunity you have with people who are not Jesus followers (Col. 4:5 cf. 1 Pet. 3:15). It is precious and important. And we have good news that is life changing and we want to share it.

We do what Colossians 4:5 tells us: We have conversations with people who don’t follow Jesus (we’re not just in a Christian huddle all the time) and we are intentional about those conversations.

Live in relationship

We resolve to practice relational-driven evangelism. We follow Jesus who didn’t just speak to people from a distance. He was in real relationships with real people. Jesus was a friend of sinners and tax collectors (Matt. 9:10-11; 11:19).

We too live in relationship with people.

Look to connect

We readily connect people into community so that they can see Christian love lived out. As the Bible points out, Christian community is a very important apologetic (Jn. 13:35; cf. 1 Cor. 14:24-25; 2 Cor. 2:14-17).

We invite people into relationship like Jesus did.


As Christians who follow King Jesus, we live the missional mandate. We leave our Christian “bubbles.” We learn the culture of the surrounding community. We love our neighbors. We listen to others and look for ways to share God’s truth. We live in relationship with all sorts of people. We look to show our friends who don’t follow Jesus the community of Jesus.


[1]Missional means adopting the posture of a missionary, joining Jesus on mission, learning and adapting to the culture around you while remaining biblically sound” (Ed Stetzer and Daniel Im, Planting Missional Churches, p. 1).

[2] So, Dietrich Bonhoeffer says in his classic book, Life Together, “The Christian… belongs not in the seclusion of a cloistered life but in the thick of foes” (p. 17). 

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About Paul O'Brien

I am a lot of things; saint and sinner. I struggle and I strive. I am a husband and father of three. I have been in pastoral ministry for 10 years. I went to school at the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary but most of my schooling has been at the School of Hard Knocks. I have worked various jobs, including pheasant farmer, toilet maker, construction worker, and I served in the military. My wife and I enjoy reading at coffee shops, taking walks, hanging out with friends and family, and watching our three kid's antics. :)

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