Discerning the mission God calls us to involves looking up, looking in and looking out. In each of these actions there are potential barriers to mission.
We are in a time of mission – even as interest in denominational church declines, interest in spiritual matters has never been higher. Look out – what is the nature of the community you are located in? What are the human hurts and hopes and struggles you see around you? Where do people gather? Do you know what services are available for people who need some form of help? Are there lots of older people in the area? Or young families? Or professionals who work long hours? The best way of understanding what your community is like is by being out in it! Talk to people, walk rather than drive, make time to really understand where God has placed you to begin your mission.
Look up – talk to God about what you are seeing. What are the things that really get to you? What would he have you do in this context? Who should you ask to join you? Is this a personal mission, or is it for others in your church as well? Allow your heart to be broken by what breaks God’s heart. Let compassion and a desire for action grow.
Look in – what are the unique gifts, skills, talents and connections God has given you for your mission? The largest barriers you will face come from within. Making time to be involved, spending time with God discerning what he wants you to do, risking action, focussing on the needs of your neighbours rather than your own …