How do we begin to train ourselves to be missional? John Addison Dally in his book "Choosing the Kingdom" talks about preaching in a way that I find helpful for organizing sermons. But more than sermons, I think it is a helpful way for us to form language and images for a witness that practices missionality. Though I will present these ideas in a linear fashion, they need not be thought of as linear in nature, just parts of how our conversation with each other and the world should go.
The first thing Dally suggests is that we proclaim and alternative reality to the present one most of us captive to. Following Jesus' lead, this means proclaiming the reality and presence of the Kingdom of God. It's a world that beats swords into plowshares, where people of different cultures sit at table, where there is no Jew nor Greek, male nor female hierarchy. What he suggests is that we give people another choice besides what is directly in front of them.
It is what the church is supposed to model - a new reality. We are to be a sign and foretaste of this alternative to the way things are. I know we fail miserably at this. But I do believe that some of it is simply attributable to the fact that we have such a limited and beaten down imagination. In many ways this is C.S. Lewis's suggestion in "The Discarded Image", that the medieval church had the right imagination. They saw the Kingdom of God present around them and had an imagination to receive it.
To present an alternative reality to people is to be genuinely creative and hopeful. It is also helpful. The world is mired in its present condition, and this includes Christians. How can one get out of the mire, if they can't imagine more than what is before them. Look again at Lewis's "Silver Chair" in Narnia. Isn't it Puddleglum who states to the Emerald Witch something like - If we're just babies making up a world, then how is it that four babies can make up a world that licks the 'real' world you suggest? The biblical view of the way things should be is sorely different from the way we act and believe. But we need to still put forth a different reality in our speech.
Next we need to begin to put forth an alternative reality in our actions. We need to live into the Kingdom's values. We need to live out - love thy neighbor, turn the other cheek, lay down your life. They are intended to be present realities not merely future promises that end up as cynical critiques of the failure of Christians to live out their faith. I honestly believe that when the bible says "turn the other cheek" it means it. I stand condemned by all the times I've failed to do this. But I also stand guilty, remorseful, grateful, graceful, forgiven, and restored. But not for my own satisfaction. This is intended to be turned out again to the world so that the Kingdom can be proclaimed in word and deed.
This is a bit of a ramble as usual, but you get the point. We don't need more clever ways to be God's people, we need to believe in and live into the Kingdom reality that Jesus began. We need to do all the hard stuff, and realize that the hardest stuff - forgiveness and restoration and love enough to be sustained in this life is accomplished by Jesus.
Next up: Implications of this Alternative Reality.