Trifocal Lenses

In chapter three of the book, Spirituality for the Sent, Susan Booth proposes that we must hold three dimensions in proper focus: spiritual, missional, and global.


As believers, we are called to be disciples of Jesus. This process of discipleship is made possible by the work of the Holy Spirit through the practice of spiritual disciplines. Just like physical health comes as a result of the disciplines of healthy eating and exercise, spiritual health is produced by a combination of spiritual disciplines empowered by the Holy Spirit, such as Bible reading and prayer.

This process of becoming a disciple of Jesus, called sanctification, should produce the fruit of being obedient to the commands of Jesus. All too often, though, the disciplines simply become an end unto themselves. We see this in church all of the time. People who call themselves Christians come to church week after week. Some read their Bibles. Some pray. Some even teach classes. However, most of these have never shared the Gospel. Most of these will never live their lives intentionally as missionaries where they live, work, and play. The vast majority will never even think about how God could use them to reach the unreached people groups of the world.

Developing spirituality through the spiritual disciplines is essential for every believer, and it should always move us into the missional sphere.


In the process of maturation as a disciple of Jesus by the work of the Holy Spirit through the spiritual disciplines, one sees clearly in Scripture that obedience to the commands of Jesus impresses upon us to make disciples of other people. As a result, Christians should naturally and intentionally begin to leverage their lives to be missionaries where they live, work, and play. Whereas the spiritual disciplines look quite similar amongst all believers, this missional component will look vastly different for each individual based upon their gifts, talents, resources, location, and passions.

This will change everything about how you live your life. You will no longer see work as a place to go and earn money, but you now see it as the place where God has planted you in order to expand His Kingdom. You no longer see your hobby of fishing as a means of escape from the world, but as an opportunity to bring someone along as you disciple them. You no longer see your home as a place to cater to your needs and watch television, but as a strategic base located in a neighborhood full of people that need to hear about grace.

3 Cautions:
  1. We must not do the missional component without the spiritual component. If we try to do it on our own power, we will fail. Missions flows out of the spiritual disciplines.
  2. We should not wait to do the work of making disciples until we have perfected our spirituality. Sanctification is a life-long process that we will never perfect this side of Heaven. We must begin obeying the commands of Jesus simultaneously with our spiritual disciplines.
  3. Do not stop with your location. Go global.


Jesus’ command in Matthew 28:18-20 is clear that we are not just to make disciples of those around us, but we are also to make disciples of all people groups. This is NOT a general statement that we can just ignore, but a specific, strategic command given by our Lord to reach all of the people groups.

In his book, In This Generation by Todd Ahrend, he uses a helpful illustration to explain Jesus’ command: Let us say there are 5 ships and all 5 of these ships are on fire. The coast guard has one helicopter and is commanded to save as many people as they can before they all sink. Their strategy would be to go to the closest ship and grab all of the people they can and continue to that ship and the next closest ones to get as many people as they can. However, if they were ordered to get as many people as they can from each ship, their strategy would change.

Jesus’ command is clear that we are to go to every tribe, tongue, and people group, not to just stay where we are and get the people closest to us. This being the case, it is imperative for every believer to work toward this goal. Each follower of Christ must ask themselves how they are to accomplish this mandate. For some, it might mean moving overseas. For others, it might mean working with refugees in our country. For all, it could mean giving to missions, praying for the unreached people groups, helping to support and send other missionaries, etc. Just like the missional component, the global component will look different for everyone as you take into account your gifts, talents, resources, and passions.


I would highly recommend reading the book, Spirituality for the Sent edited by Nathan A. Finn and Keith S. Whitfield. It is a fantastic book that is focused on finally wedding together the spiritual disciplines movement with the missional movement. Each chapter is written by a different person from a different perspective. Although I do not agree with everything presented in the book, I very much appreciated how thought-provoking it was as a whole.
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