In his book, After Christendom, Stuart Murray speaks of the new place of the church in a culture where the Christian faith loses coherence and influence. He lists five shifts that will take place:
- From the center to margins. In Christendom the Christian story and the churches were central, but in post-Christendom these are marginal.
- From majority to minority. In Christendom Christians comprised the (often overwhelming) majority, but in post-Christendom we are a minority.
- From settlers to sojourners. In Christendom Christians felt at home in a culture shaped by their story, but in post-Christendom we are aliens, exiles, and pilgrims in a culture where we no longer feel at home.
- From privilege to plurality. In Christendom Christians enjoyed many privileges, but in post-Christendom we are a community among many in a plural society.
- From control to witness. In Christendom churches could exert control over society, but in post-Christendom we exercise influence only through witnessing to our story and its implications.
- From maintenance to mission. In Christendom the emphasis was on maintaining a supposedly Christian status quo, but in post-Christendom it is on mission within a contested environment.
- From institution to movement. In Christendom churches operated mainly in institutional mode, but in post-Christendom we must become again a Christian movement. 1.
- How do these shifts change the way you see your country?
- What must then change with the way we act and operate as Christians?
- What battles should we stop fighting as the church? Where should we redirect our efforts?
1. Qtd. in Tim Chester and Steve Timmis’ Everyday Church, 22
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Above is a picture of a Web of Relationships. Scripture says we’ve all been put in our own web of relationships so that we might win people there for Jesus. The Apostle Paul says in Acts 17:26-27,
From one man he made every nation of men, that they should inhabit the whole earth; and he determined the times set for them and the exact places where they should live. God did this so that men would seek him and perhaps reach out for him and find him, though he is not far from each one of us.
Paul says that God has placed every person where they are at, and when they would live, so that they might perhaps find the living God and Savior of us all. Paul also says, in Romans 10: 9-17, the only way (outside of supernatural means) that people find God is through others sharing the word of God with them. So then, with these two passages together, I’ve always thought that God has placed each Christian exactly where they are because they have friends, neighbors, coworkers, family, accuatances, etc. that need to know the love of Christ.
Think thorough the following five areas of your life and think of who you introduce to Jesus:
- Vocation – Every Christian is a full time minister. God just route our paychecks through different routes. God has placed you in your job so that you could serve others well through those means, but also so that you might be a witness to others. Who do you know at work that is unchurched? Do you ever get together with them socially? If not, how can you engage them to grow your relationship?
- Location – All of us live in a place surrounded by people,. Even if we live in the country there are people around us. Do you know you’re neighbors? Do you know who are churched or unchurched? If so, who can you start engaging or growing in relationship with? Who can you invite to hang out with other MC members, join you in serving others, or to hear The Story? If you don’t know your neighbors, get to know them. Bring them over some extra soup, invite them to a party, or serve them in some way.
- Recreation – All of us have hobbies that we enjoy. God’s given us all different skills and interests. God has also given us all unique relational connections to others. How can you use your passions and interests to connect with others? Who are you already in relationship with that you can connect to other members of the MC or invite to an event?
- Relations – Who in your family needs to know Jesus? Can you invite them to social gathering of other MC members? Would they enjoy The Story? Would they join us in service projects?
- Frequentation – being a Patron or being a regular somewhere. “Sometimes you want to know where everybody knows your name.” How do people get to know your name, when you take interest in their names and engage in their lives. Where do you frequent? Where are you a regular? Have you stopped to learn the names and stories of the people you see regularly at the park, bank, theatre, market, restaurant, pub, etc? If not, where can you start?
- Walk this week with eyes open to the people in the background of your life. Do you know them?
- Make a commitment to try to meet 3 new people each week and grow in your relationship with one person you have met or already know who is unchurched.
What do you think? Is this list helpful? Why or why not? What do you think of the terms that are used. They’re all real words, yet some, such as frequentation, doesn’t get used all that much these days. I’m interested in your comments and suggestions.
Halloween is a great time to meet new neighbors. If you have kids, you have the permission to go door-to-door and introduce yourself to your neighbors. If you don’t have kids, many neighbors will come to you seeking sugary candy. Yet you can give them something much better, friendship. How can you bless your neighbors this Halloween?
Here are some thoughts on how you can make Halloween serve Gospel purposes of getting to know your neighbors:
- In the week before, Have a Community Pumpkin carving party at your house. You can even have all the kids judge the pumpkins and give out prizes. Have some games, snacks, and beverages available.
- Halloween is important to kids. Make sure to hand out candy. Turn some lights on so kids know you’re home and so parents know you’re welcoming.
- Buy some great candy and don’t be stingy with it. When I was a kid, I knew who gave out the full candy bars and who gave out the grandma candy that tasted like rotten peanut butter.
- Make a big deal about the kids’ costumes. Have fun and make them feel special when they come to your door.
- In many places, including Jackson this year, it’s going to be pretty cold. What can you do to help freezing parents and children warm up? How about free hot Apple Cider or Hot Chocolate? In addition to free drinks, do you have a portable bonfire pit? Set it up in the front yard and invite people to sit down and warm up before they move on to the next street.
- Why just hand out Candy? Give them a little toy from a dollar or party store. Glowsticks or bracelets would be a great hit!
- Learn the names of any of the adults that come by. Ask them where they live and make a little small talk. Try to remember the names of any kids that you see playing in the neighborhood as well. Write down the names and addresses of the people you meet so you can remember them later.
- How are you going to follow-up with the people you meet? How about handing out invitations and having a Halloween after party for the Adults to have some festive adult beverages and snacks? Or, how about inviting people to a party on the following weekend?
- Create a community facebook page and hand out invitations to everyone who comes by.
- Team up with the neighbors you know. Be the really fun groups of houses so that you draw more people down your street.
- Go trick or treating with at least one other family and pick up more in your group as you walk along. It’s a great opportunity to get to know mom’s and dads better as you walk along.
- Decorate a little so kids think your house looks fun and inviting. Don’t go overboard and get too scary or parents might not be happy and the kids might not stick around long enough to talk.
- Invite your Missional Communities to join you in handing out candy, going trick-or-treating, or anything you’re doing on Halloween. You’ll have a greater chance of connecting with other neighbors with a couple more people by your side.
No matter what you do this Halloween, pray that God might open doors to good conversations and friendships and that, through His Spirit, they people might see a hint of God’s Kingdom and His love.
If you have any other ideas, feel free to comment below.
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Do not let your heart envy sinners, but always be zealous for the fear of the Lord. There is surely a future hope for you, and your hope will not be cut off. Pr 23:17-18
I’ve been reading through Proverbs over the last week and this verse seems to sum up the theme of proverbs: to be wise is to see that God is better and the only lasting good. How often I’ve envied sinners in my heart. How often I’ve wanted what was forbidden me because I doubted that God had something better in store. When I’m tempted to secure my own good and pleasure, when my heart starts to yearn for that which it wasn’t meant for, I need to remember that, “God is Good so I don’t have to look elsewhere.”
The brokenness and emptiness that we often feel in this world will never be cured by attaining some other broken and empty thing. This world is fading. This world will one day end and my life here will end as well. Yet while my life will end here, there is surely a hope for me. God sent His Son, Jesus, into this broken world. He repaired my broken relationship with God by paying the debt I owed Him because of my rebellion. One day he’ll also repair this broken world, my broken body, and my broken soul. I’ll experience the ultimate good when God restores all things and I’ll see him face-to-face and live with him forever.
God is Good. I don’t have to look elsewhere. I don’t have to chase fleeting pleasure I can never keep. Rather I can be zealous for God’s good, because his good will last. My hope in His good will not be cut off. There is surely a hope for me. There is surely a hope for us.
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“It’s a dangerous business,” Frodo shares with his fellow Hobbits as they are about to leave the Shire in Tolkien’s The Lord of The Rings. Filled with excitement and trepidation at leaving home for the first time, Frodo shares the wise and whimsical council of his beloved Uncle Bilbo:
He used often to say there was only one Road; that it was like a great river: its springs were at every doorstep, and every path was its tributary. ‘It’s a dangerous business, Frodo, going out of your door,’ he used to say. ‘You step onto the Road, and if you don’t keep your feet, there is no knowing where you might be swept off to.
It’s a dangerous buisness, opening your mouth, as well. The conversation can bring you anywhere. James says, “With the tongue we praise our Lord and Father, and with it we curse men, who have been made in God’s likeness” (James 3:9). Our words will often flow into curses of our neighbors and God. They can set the course of our life on fire. Yet, God didn’t create words and speech for that.
Every word and conversation is really meant to flow through the tributaries of casual conversation to the deep and powerful rushing waters of theology. That great river of the Gospel flows into a river of life, it’s the road to God. Every conversations was meant to point there, every road meant to lead to Him. Why? Because we were meant to “live, move and have our being” in Him (Acts 17:28). We were created to find all our joy, purpose and meaning in our God and Father. In the Fall we ran away from God, yet in the Gospel, God Redeemed us and calls us to to Jesus, the way and road home (John 14:6). He desires for us to be prepared to share the faith, to season and frame all our conversations with God’s Story and Love, and to trust the Spirit to guide in showing the way to others.
Since we have been redeemed, since we’re on our way home, we have something to share, something to talk about. We’ll run into many people on our journey home. We’ll have the opportunity to invite them along, to tell them where we’re going. Just as “it’s a dangerous business” in going out your door in the uncertainty of where the day will take you, there’s always uncertainty, every time a conversation starts. We don’t know what paths words will lead us down, but what we do know is that God desires to use our words and our path to lead people home. God’s called every person we meet to intersect with our path so that somehow, the direction and ultimately the destination of their life might change. God’s Spirit will present opportunities to speak and give us words to say to lead others home.
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Watch this video from Francis Chan,
- According to Chan, why was the church formed?
- Why do we need the church community as Christians?
- What are the things we substitute in our spirituality instead of the Christian life?
- Why do you think we focus on other things than mission?
Watch this video from Jeff Vanderstelt on Rhythms of a missional community,
Think about these questions:
- According to Jeff, how does Peter lay out our witness as a Christian community?
- Who is a worship leader in a church?
- What are the Gospel rhythms that Jeff shares? How is each rhythm informed by the Gospel? How can we use them to share and show the gospel?
- Note how some of the rhythms were present in Jeff’s stories. How were Nikki and Clay reached?
For my Core Group, please continue to read the Gospel-Centred life this week with chapter 2, A life for others. Read it, return to it, live it, and we’ll talk about it next week.
For some other great videos on Missional living and Church planting visit the Verge Network