The heart of the Great Commission

Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age. (Matt. 28:18-20, NIV) Continue reading “The heart of the Great Commission”

Being “on mission”

I am revisiting Briggs and Hyatt’s book on Eldership and find myself challenged by the lead question: “How would you define ministry?”

The working answer for Briggs and Hyatt: meeting people where they are and journeying with them to where God wants them to be. 

They have a list of what ministry is not to reaffirm that definition:

It is not waiting for people to come to us and then journeying with them. That’s how we think of church in America. (I wish it would stop.)

Ministry is not meeting people where they are and being content with that condition. That’s simply friendship.

Ministry isn’t meeting people where they are and then journeying with them to where want them to be. That’s manipulation.

And my favorite: it’s not meeting people where they are and journeying with them to where they want to be. “That’s Oprah with a little bit of Jesus sprinkled in.”

Let the journey be to God. Let the journey begin where you are. Let’s walk together.

It is not enough

It is not enough to think that if someone simply has a church they can walk by that they have an “adequate” witness of the gospel.

We to be IN the lives of those who do not yet believe so they have an opportunity to see Jesus in some form of reality. Let us not be lazy and think we’re going to let some TV ministry be an adequate witness of the gospel to someone who never turned on some particular program.

Microsoft’s New Department

Read carefully from this memo. See if anything stands out to you:

(CEO Steve) Ballmer also talked about the company’s future plans, while detailing the functions that form the basis of Microsoft’s transformation — Engineering, Marketing, Business Development and Evangelism, Advanced Strategy and Research, Finance, HR, Legal, and COO.

Who knew Microsoft was evangelical? 

Am I Joining What God is Doing?

The growth and expansion of the Church is never tied to our comfort. The first expansion of the church in Acts came in a time of persecution. Philip found himself in Samaria (Acts 8) as a result of the persecution in Jerusalem. But persecution wasn’t a reason to quit. They kept proclaiming.

Philip was one of the “minor” characters of the Acts story that show those who make the way. He preaches to Samaritans, which were despised by “real” Jews. Revival breaks out. Then, he finds himself on an empty road while a coach makes its way toward him. There he encounters a true Gentile and preaches the gospel.

Two things out of Acts 8 stand out to me:

1. We have no idea about persecution in the Western Church. None. Zero.

We have people who don’t like us. We have people who disagree with us and might call us bigots. We have some rules and laws that make sharing faith difficult at times… maybe. But persecuted? No. And we have no idea.

Ideologies are shifting rapidly. Christian beliefs are being marginalized quickly, at a faster rate than I anticipated (although I did sense this shift about 11-12 years ago). But persecuted? We don’t know it. Will we? Maybe. But right now? Let’s not kid ourselves.

2. Philip is a great example of simply joining what God is doing.

Philip DID know persecution, and he kept right on proclaiming the gospel. Wherever he landed, he found God already at work. We sometimes have an erroneous belief that “God comes with us” in a way that really says, “I’m here, so NOW God is here, and aren’t you glad I showed up so good things can NOW happen?”

Let’s understand that we carry the presence of God, but God doesn’t “show up” when WE show up. What we need to see is that when we arrive at a place we will find God already at work. Us being in a particular spot is already an indication that God was at work before we got there.

Check the egos at the door, folks.

We are NOT persecuted… and we are not the great hope of the world…

Let’s join what God is already doing. Even if that road is tough and possibly lonely.

The Power of the Gospel

“The power of the gospel lies not in the offer of a new spirituality or religious experience, not in the threat of hellfire (certainly not in the threat of being “left behind”), which can be removed if only the hearer checks the box, says this prayer, raises a hand, or whatever, but in the powerful announcement that God is God, that Jesus is Lord, that the powers of evil have been defeated, that God’s new world has begun.”

— NT Wright, Surprised by Hope

 

 

The Double-Edge of the Good News

Reading through Acts this week as a church, I am still struck by the boldness of proclamation. Filled with the power of the Spirit, these are people who are unafraid. They don’t have the luxury of public proclamation as we do today. They had to risk. Even knowing their proclamation could land them in trouble, they proclaimed good news anyway.

In Acts 13, Paul is preaching in the synagogue, so he has the Jews and God-fearing Gentiles listening. Jews who were jealous began to stir the crowd, so Paul decided to stir the pot. He used the Jewish Scriptures to let them know that God had Gentiles in mind as well. Of course, that split the house. The Jews were angry and the Gentiles were thrilled.

But that is the double-edged sword of the “good news.” Not everyone is pleased with what that message proclaims. In a day where we want everyone happy, we’re going to be disappointed with the “good news.” We may even try to “tweek” it a bit.

The gospel is not about us being liked. It is about good news being proclaimed. What happens after that is never up to us.

The Beautiful Obligation

16 If I preach the gospel, I have no reason to brag, since I’m obligated to do it. I’m in trouble if I don’t preach the gospel.(1 Cor. 9:16, CEB)

16 For when I preach the gospel, I cannot boast, since I am compelled to preach. Woe to me if I do not preach the gospel! (1 Cor. 9:16, NIV)

16 For if I preach the gospel, that gives me no ground for boasting. For necessity is laid upon me. Woe to me if I do not preach the gospel! (1 Cor. 9:16, ESV)

The supposed freedom we may think we have in the gospel is indeed freedom, but it is a freedom binding us to a new “obligation.” The gospel of Jesus Christ turns all our definitions upside down.

Any sense of “obligation” we have in our lives today we tend to run from like it was the plague.

Any sense of “freedom” we think we may have, we sometimes viciously fight for that sense of “freedom,” only to find it has a steep price after all.

But in the Kingdom, the freedom of Christ has a sense of duty. It is a sense of call. It is the duty of proclamation. And it is not just proclamation in some way that WE feel “comfortable” with. It is the proclamation of the gospel in such a way that we work hard to make sure the gospel is communicated clearly to our audience.

For Paul, it meant that even with tremendous “freedoms” he felt no qualms about being “all things to all people so as to win some.” He wanted Jews to understand without too many barriers. He wanted Gentiles to understand without too many barriers.

That’s just hard work. Why? He was compelled. He had an obligation. Yet, it was a beautiful obligation. It was a longing for all to understand the freedom he found in Christ.

As Christians we give up “freedoms” and “privileges” at times because we want to be able to communicate as clearly as possible the beautiful message of freedom in Christ. It is not “losing” in the Kingdom. It may seem like “losing” to everyone around us, but it is not losing at all. When other find freedom in Christ, gain happens. We all win.