God’s Mission to redeem the world has been in motion for a long time – we all know this. Usually, we first come in contact with the divine mission when we experience God’s forgiveness and love over/in our own lives (salvation). We then become disciples of Jesus (or we should). We become people who are like him, who are examples of him, who follow his ways and help others discover/follow those ways. We each play a role in the divine mission through everyday lives as Jesus, our Lord, empowers us to show hospitality, live among others and be living extensions of God’s Kingdom. If we fail to accept our role in God’s mission, we become inactive in faith and are at risk of living consumerism. Again, our role in the divine mission plays out through our everyday lives and everyday relationships. We must acknowledge that God may ask more of us but we don’t primarily see the divine mission as something that must always be spectacular or grandiose. We are called to live everyday lives of tremendous spirituality, service and love. Living Way should be a group of disciples, a community, that move each other into lives of discipleship and mission. You can see the following as a primer for what comes next at Living Way. This is not a complete, perfect document. Please read and add your comments. If you need to message me privately, please use contact page. – Carl
Jesus is Lord
Jesus is the center of it all, and his lordship over our lives is the fuel that drives our lifestyle.
(It is easy for leadership to abuse people with this truth and manipulate everyone into a program etc… That is not what we want to do here. Living Way is not saying – Jesus is Lord so get behind what we are doing.)
“Jesus is Lord” should be the center of our faith – our worldview. Living lives of sentness, mission, discipleship and community will be very difficult if we have not truly placed Jesus as the Lord over our lives.
Has the Lordship of Jesus really touched down in my life?
Would I consider my life submitted to Jesus’ Lordship?
What part(s) of my life, schedule, habits do I intentionally alter because of Jesus’ Lordship?
Jesus saves us and transforms our lives so we can be sent to those who are far from God. We are sent people. This does not mean we have to relocate to faraway places. It means we embrace sentness as a primary element of our faith. We define our Christianity in terms of sentness before we define it in terms of membership, attendance, giving etc.
Sentness is something we do in the context of our everyday lives. This is not about a big event or evangelism push. Our very, every day, lives can be lived out of sentness. We live incarnationally, as Jesus did, intentionally embracing opportunities among people close to us but far from God.
We are sent to neighbors, friends and coworkers so we open our lives and homes to bring the Kingdom of God close to them.
What makes sentness such a challenging lifestyle?
Why are we often drawn into closed-off, self-centered lives?
What can we learn/apply from Jesus incarnation as we live sent lives?
Mission, Discipleship, Community
These three go together and give a picture of what a sent life, with Jesus as Lord, would value/prioritize.
Each person (family or couple) should know what their role in God’s redemptive mission is. If God has gifted each of us, and has given us responsibility in His mission, then each of us should be able to label a mission God has for us. This mission will be a part of our everyday life, this is not some sort of special external event or trip (However, Jesus may call us, from time to time, to do extraordinary things). So we should prayerfully select some sort of mission activity for our life. This is an intentional decision. This is also a very important decision because without mission, we will easily slide back into consumerism. This Mission becomes a significant part of our faith actions, it becomes the reason we gather and the reason we give and serve.
Imagine a “church” as a collection of people intentionally living out their part in God’s mission (in an incarnational way). This group may come together to serve others as a whole form time to time, but the real life they share comes from their individual Mission activities. When they do get together, they do so to share experiences, wisdom, to celebrate, to encourage and to energize each other.
*Remember, we are not placing these three (Mission, Discipleship, Community) in any specific priority over each other. See them as equal parts of our lives.
Community is the context for the Christian faith. We can’t do it in our own bubble, keeping our distance from others. Community is at it’s best when we are a group of people who are living on mission together. Community is not a bunch of people who get together only to read the Bible, or discuss Christian issues. Community is when we gather together because we are praying and supporting one another in the roles we play in the divine mission.
We are all called by Jesus to be people who make disciples.
Disciples: People who know (and are growing in knowledge of) the ways of Jesus, who live those ways AND who are helping others do the same.
Discipleship, as Jesus did it, always takes place within the context of mission (not church). This is way we can never really be discipled and disciple others simply by attending church services. Think of the way Jesus did this with his disciples. We are not talking about deep theological teaching or grand discipleship plans. Discipleship is the process of engaging each other as we live on mission together, answering the questions that arise and praying together.
Do we take responsibility for our family’s discipleship?
How might your spirituality change if you intentionally engaged in a mission and brought someone along with you to be discipled?
How should a church, or a community of believers, organize themselves to accomplish these purposes in our lives as individuals, families and a larger body?
The truth about an organization, a “church”, is revealed in the way it functions. A church can claim any vision or mission, but the real priorities are most evident in the “day to day” workings (and what those workings actually produce in the lives of members). So, we can claim to be a community that is sent and that we are people propelled into the world as participants in God’s redemptive mission. However, if we can simply attend a gathering from time to time, never extending our lives into God’s Mission, then the reality of Living Way is; we are not a community of people embracing God’s mission, we are a community of people who talk a lot about God’s mission.
I take full responsibility for this. My history/experience leans toward teaching and talking as the solution for discipleship. If we can just learn enough about the kingdom of God, then at some point we will be awakened to the possibilities of a kingdom-focused life and go live it. But this is hardly true, even for myself. More teaching, more “church” makes me more dependent on that teaching and over time, I fall into a pattern of consumerism.
Consumerism: Content to simply listen and receive information about God’s mission but never initiate a personal role in that mission.
Consumerism plagues my own life to be honest. It is so easy to believe that centering myself on hearing God-truth (sermons etc.) and living a moral life is the complete expression of a redeemed life. Let’s leave the “ministry” up to the professionals, show up on Sunday, give a few bucks, maybe do some volunteering, then call it a day and get back to my real life. I have lived this pattern in the past and I hate to confess it, but consumerism is a very real, enticing lifestyle-option for me. I don’t know if it is for you, but I’m thinking you might be here with me?
So, Living Way must constantly make sure we are not only talking about God’s mission but also creating disciples that embrace their place in that mission.
Are we organized in a way that actually initiates the truths we are talking about in our lives?
Can a church be organized in way that is contrary to the very truths it hopes to activate? Why would this happen?
Once you look at the values discussed above you can see that Living Way needs to make changes to accomplish them. Living Way cannot become a church that claims one mission, but in its practical organization creates something else in our lives.
- We hope to inspire everyone to embrace your role in God’s mission. The solution is not more church. The solution is more community time to discuss, pray and respond to Jesus’ Lordship.
- We hope to become disciples who make disciples. This is not as complicated as it sounds.
- We hope to gather and celebrate what God is doing, share our gifts, have communion together and grow. We may not do this as much as we are accustom to. Gatherings should be sacred times, not just another service. We anticipate these gatherings taking more time, and becoming much more enjoyable/fulfilling in the future.
We will gather together to discuss this more on March 19th at the Middle School. Plan to join us then. Post your thoughts and comments below.