Being Missional: Stomach Virus or A Way of Life?


What does it mean to be Missional







I just finished the most amazing week of ministering to children in our community that we call “Breakaway!” I had to theologically reflect for a moment on the discussion that is taking place in the Church-at-large concerning what it means to be “Missional”. For some, this may sound like a skin disorder or something that is simply connected to “emergent church thinking.”  It all became focused for me when tonight the last evening of our week-long event a parent comes up to me and says, “My child is very timid and does not do well in big group events, but he so loved this event because he said the adult counselors had fun with him and listened to what he had to say.” She went on to say, “He received Jesus Christ into his heart and told me that he wanted to live for Christ because he saw Jesus in his small group leader.” Bingo! There is something so powerful when men and women who have a passion to live for Christ live it in their own lives. Many theologians call this an “Incarnational Model” of doing ministry, which denotes the pattern of Jesus, who is God condescending himself to become God in Human Flesh. Another way of viewing this is as “God Incognito”. Long before the term “Missional” became a theological buzz word to impress people with while you drink your latte’, one of my mentors who has gone on to be with the Lord, Jerry Cook, would state, “The ministry is being Jesus on Monday.” Thus, as I align my heart with God’s heart which is caring for what God cares for I begin to live out God’s passion in the way that I live everyday.

It is my conviction that one of my theological heroes Ed Stetzer said it best when he offered this definition of what being “Missional”: “Missional is a way of being that leads to a way of acting. The missional church is made up of Christians who are called through God’s gracious redemption to live for Him and His great mission throughout the world and who are sent out to be co-laborers with God to accomplish His mission in the world. This is the mission that God sent His Son on, and it is the mission that He sends His people on. So, missional Christ-followers and missional churches are joining Jesus on mission. They care about the things that Jesus directed us to care about: serving the hurting and loving others (the Great Commandment), and seeking to proclaim the gospel to the lost (the Great Commission).” [1] I think I watched this with adults who enjoyed playing with kids and at the same time “being Jesus” to these children. I am not part of the Emergent Church and I do not want to reinvent “orthodoxy” in order that I can participate in a circular dialog at some Hookah bar burning candles with a group of self identified “Post-Modern” thinkers with authority issues the merits of re-framing the historical Jesus to the world. Neither, do I espouse to have a complicated strategy for being a missional Christian. Tonight, I am simply so emotionally moved being involved in a faith community with a Children’s Pastor who walks around with fake insect antennae on her head while she allows the children to splash pudding on her, and at the same time, she can give a clear message of the Good News to children. I simply want my heart to be in alignment with God’s heart so that I can live at the rhythm of His heartbeat and “BE” Jesus to people. I do not want to represent Jesus to people in some weird religious way that is offensive, but rather, in an authentic way as I share my hurts, habits, and hang-ups while living my story of how Jesus Christ is working in me. I desire to have a heart for what Jesus has a heart for. Therefore, I lovingly choose to reach out and meet people where they are at, before they ever come to hear the words of the Good News!

I am deeply grateful that I have the privilege of serving people who love their community and who are willing to cry, dance, laugh, and play with adults and children and not just during a week-long event, but every day. It is this mindset that gives me exciting anticipation that I get to be Jesus to someone. Thank you to Jennifer Alessio, our church’s Children’s Pastor, who put the fun in “being the authentic me” that the Master Artist created me to be for Him. This makes being “Missional” more than sounding like a stomach virus but something that I can joyfully live out every day!


[1] Ed Stetzer, Quotes from Ed Stetzer on Missional Living and the flaws of the ‘attractional model’ of church. Tuesday, 28 June 2011.



About PastorAl

Al Soto has been married to his incredible wife Valerie for 30 years and they have five sons and one grandson. Al has been in Local Church Ministry for 35 years as both as a Lead Pastor, Associate Pastor, and for five years as a Regional Overseer for his denomination. He has a BA degree from LIFE Pacific College and is currently completing an MA in Leadership & Spiritual Formation from Vanguard University. He currently resides in Lincoln, CA where he is the new Lead Pastor for one of the Campus locations for Bayside Church. He continues to coach High School Football for the Lincoln Fighting Zebras for the Junior Varsity Program and is facilitating Leadership training and coaching as well as facilitating Spiritual Retreats. His hobbies include Golfing and Scuba Diving as well as he is a veracious reader. His Life Statement is “Real Success is Helping others to Succeed!”
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