“Missional” is a pithy (and trendy) way that we tell the world that we Christians intend to be about the work of the Great Commission. We have sermon series about being missional, missional committees and missional community groups. But despite our best attempts to reach our neighborhoods and cities with the Gospel of Jesus, the world doesn’t seem to be warming up to us (or our message). It raises the question of whether we actually know how to live out the Great Commission.
Unless you’ve been on an internet hiatus for the past week, you already know Chance the Rapper recently took the attendees of the Grammys to church—complete with a preacher and piano player.
The artist took the message of Jesus where it has not historically been welcome. And in doing so, Chance the Rapper reminded us of three practical truths about the Great Commission.
‘Go’ means go.
Chance took the Gospel message to Hollywood, to those frequently criticized in Christian circles. But we have to stop our criticism long enough to ask ourselves: if we stand to the side and critique Hollywood, how will that community hear about Christ? Chance has been criticized by some in the Christian community for his performance, but who else was telling this audience that God is worthy of praise?
Chance took the opportunity that his performance provided to proclaim truth about God. He was a steward of his stage; he made his mission field, as Jill Briscoe recently put it, between his own two feet.
When the apostle Paul found himself at the foot of a pagan altar to an “unknown god” he used it as an opportunity to proclaim his God—the God that he knew personally and the God that made Himself knowable in Jesus Christ. (Acts 17:22-32) He used a relic of a pagan culture to get to the message of Jesus Christ, and Chance did the same. He took the Grammy stage, where many cultural icons have received awards and “worship,” and he turned attention to a God some there don’t even know.
Chance stands as a reminder that when the Great Commission commands us to “go,” often it will entail using wherever the Lord places us as a platform for proclaiming the Gospel.
‘Preach the Gospel’ means that we must use true and hope-filled words.
One of the first and most notable commands of the Great Commission is to preach the Gospel. It seems that the Church tends to fall into two extremes when we consider how we might fulfill this call: On one hand, we attempt to make the Gospel message palatable to our culture, and more often than we would like to admit, it has resulted in a weak message that tells half-truths about God’s character. On the other hand, we can over-strategize and stress out about formulas, bankrupting our message of hope in the process.
But the Gospel message ceases to be itself when it does not encapsulate both truth and hope. Chance included both.
Chance spoke truth from that stage: Magnify, magnify, lift it on high is no soft call to those who do not worship Jesus as Lord. He also offered a message a hope, a message that insisted that God is great and that all people will see His greatness.
At the heart of the Gospel is a true and hope-filled message—one that cannot be watered down in our attempts to contextualize or stripped of the hope it holds out to a world that doesn’t know Christ. As we embrace this, we will be emboldened to proclaim the Gospel.
Christians will only find this kind of confidence as we remember that the Gospel is, at its core, a true and hope-filled message for the world around us.
Evangelism includes your personal story.
Throughout his Grammy performance, Chance hints at his story: I used to hide from God / ducked down in the slums like shhh. Every Christian has a story of their life before Christ and how they came to repentance and faith.
Both the new believer and lifelong followers of Jesus can share the good news of Jesus Christ by sharing their story—including the times in life they ran from God. Too often, it is our tendency to try to tidy up our stories when sharing our faith; it is a vain attempt to show others a cleaned-up portrait of Christianity that simply isn’t true. The way Chance uses reminds us of the value of sharing our stories, telling others the ways in which we have hidden from God, and how we came to embrace “faith of pumpkin seed-size mustard seed.”
Is Chance the Rapper the new model of missions for the Church today? Probably not.
But we would be remiss if we did not learn from his example. Our God is on a mission to reconcile a lost people to Himself, and the Great Commission is our invitation and command to join Him in this work. As Christians, we have the privilege of watching our God seep into every crack and corner of creation, and the privilege of the call to join Him in His work; we have the privilege of not just “going,” as the Great Commission commands, but going with God.
We are called to partner with our God as He calls the lost home and invites the outcast to be His children; we are invited to join Him as He searches for His sheep on college campuses, in offices, on the streets and, yes, at the Grammys.