America, Part 2

April 15, 2008

The purpose of my trip to the States was to speak at a conference. The purpose of the conference was to interact with and get to know churches that might have a desire to get involved with work here in Western Europe. During the conferences we had little break-out sessions where we were able to really jump into conversations with the representatives from the churches that attended. I really enjoyed getting to know these people, their heart, and their interest in things happening overseas.

But there where two things that struck me about my conversations. One, there’s a big difference between “doing missions” or being “missions minded” AND being missionAL or being ON mission with God. The first two terms seem to indicate that missions is simply a ministry of the church, like the mens ministry or the childrens ministry. I heard these two terms from quite a number of those attending the conferences. The second two terms indicate (or should indicate) the inherent nature of you and your church. Being on mission with God should be at the center, the core, of who you are to those around you, and how your church is seen by others. Unfortunately I didn’t hear these terms used very often.

Now some might say that it’s simply a matter of training or re-training. But I think it goes deeper than that. We’ve been conditioned to see church in a consumeristic way. We, being the consumer, come to shop on Sunday’s (or for really big churches most days of the week) and get our fill. In many cases these things have the purpose of making us feel better about ourselves. Now, no one would say that’s the purpose, but let’s be honest. When a guy comes home from a men’s ministry camping weekend, or the wife comes home from a weekend women’s conference how do they report their experience? And mission trips are no different…another ministry opportunity to get people “plugged in”.

However, the missio dei (the mission of God) is about seeing His kingdom come on earth as it is in Heaven. It’s inherent in who He is. He doesn’t have a mission, He is the mission. And His mission should be carried out not only in the church, but in the lives of the individuals that make up the church…that’s you and me. Don’t make missions another ministry, another short term trip, another dollar in the offering plate. Make it who you are, someone who is on mission with God, not just someone that is missions minded.

The other big thing I noticed is that there were several churches that were waiting to get involved because they felt as though they didn’t have the resources. I’m sympathetic to smaller churches with small budgets not feeling as though they can make a “big” impact on things happening overseas. My recommendation…don’t wait until you have the resources. You never will. Partner with other churches, start small, start with a single purpose in a single place and let God grow it. But better still, start in your own community. Being on mission with God doesn’t necessarily mean that your involvement with God’s mission has to be done over here. Bring about God’s kingdom in your community. Partner with other churches that share your vision and passion for seeing God move in your community and in your world. And go from there…

If any of this resonates with you I’d love to talk more with you about it. Shoot me an email. This is something I’m passionate about and I would love to see your community transformed through your obedience to be on mission with God.

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A Definition

September 26, 2007

I recently listened to a sermon by Matt Chandler, the pastor of The Village church in the Dallas/Ft. Worth area. It was part of a series he was preaching on Ecclesiastes. It was a really good message, and one of the better presentations of the gospel that I’ve heard in quite a while. During part of the message he spoke on what “repentance” meant. Until then I had not really given it much thought. It’s been one of those words that I’ve heard all my life, growing up in church. But after I finished the message I really started to spend some time thinking through the word “repentance” and how I would explain it to a not-yet believer.

So, I’m wondering…how would you define “repentance”, especially to a not-yet believer?

If you’re interested in listening to the message, you can subscribe through iTunes here, or from the Village’s website here. It’s message number 5 in the Ecclesiastes series. Oh, and by the way, here’s Matt’s definition of repentance:

Let me try to explain repentance to you, because I think it’s been done really badly. Like, how many of you have heard this, “Repentance is a military term that means to change from walking one way to walking the other way.” Anybody ever hear it spelled out like this? Well, if that’s the definition of salvation, I’m in a lot of trouble. Because Christ kind of enacted in my heart and woke up my heart, and man, for the last thirteen years, I’ve been turning the other way, taking three or four steps and with my long gangly arms, reaching back there and grabbing stuff. Is it just me? No, liars, you too. So, if the definition of what is required for salvation is to go 180° and walk this way and never touch anything back there again, I’m out. So, what is repentance then? Here’s what I think repentance is: repentance is a sorrow over our sin that creates an earnestness and a ferocity to know Jesus deeply. And when that’s the pursuit, you’re running towards Jesus, this stuff starts fading away.

-shorty

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