Are there perfect people in this world, in Church? Have you ever been in a church or a crowd where people acted or seemed better than you? If so, how did it make you feel? Did you feel rejected or accepted? Did you feel like there was hope or did you feel hopeless?
Below is a video that was very popular earlier this year entitled, Why I Hate Religion, But Love Jesus.
After watching this video:
- Was the speaker saying, ditch the church and be spiritual on your own? Or was he drawing a different distinction between religion and Jesus?
- How does this speaker define religion? Is he right in doing so? What are your thoughts?
- If there really are no perfect people in church and this world, what should it look like when Christians gather as the church? How should we act in relation to other sinners?
- What hope do you have in a church that is a hospital for the sick that tells people “come as you are no matter what you’ve done or how messy your life is”? What fears do you have?
- How does the Gospel address the fears that we have about showing our sin and about allowing sinful people to be part of our lives and in our church?
As Christians we tend to cloister, separate, ourselves from people who are caught in sin. It’s like they are sick and we want to keep them out of our lives in fear of being infected as well. Yet the truth is, we are all infected. We’re all sick with sin. We all need a doctor, we all need healing to differing degrees and in different ways. Jesus said in Mark 2:17,
It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners.
In our new church we will encounter many people who “don’t have life together” but it’s okay because we don’t have life together as well. We’re all messed up. We’re all sick. We all need a doctor who is well and who can heal us. We all need him. And when we recognize that, we don’t have to hide or pretend. We don’t have to fear other’s judgment, because Jesus was judged on our behalf. We can be open about what we’re struggling with and allow Jesus to serve and to help us through our fellow Christians. And we can help others as well and we can show them that Jesus accepts, loves, and can help change them too, because he’s healed and is still healing us.
No perfect people are allowed in our Church except Jesus because only Jesus is perfect. We can’t pretend we have it all together, and if we think we do we deceive ourselves. Rather, we can all admit we are all sick and we can rest in his healing perfection.
For more about religion and the Gospel check out The Difference between Religion, Irreligion, and the Gospel.
picture found here
Within our Missional Communities, you can find a balance of three Core Values: Gospel, Community, and Mission.
The gospel is not just the ticket to salvation; it’s the good news of a restored relationship with God, through the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus. This good news renews and transforms our hearts and lives. The Gospel is not only what gives us life when we become a Christian, but it is what sustains, grows, and matures our life and faith. The Gospel is the revelation of God’s love for us, His purpose for us, and He Himself come to live and dwell in us through His Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit empowers us to believe, recreates us into His Family, the Church, and enables us to live for Him.
Gospel Activity in an MC is centered on the person and work of Jesus Christ revealed through scriptures. Gospel activity includes Bible study, The Story Formed Way, praying for one another, encouraging and admonishing one another by applying the Gospel to one another’s lives.
We were made to live in relationships. Everybody yearns to belong, to be part of a family. Community forms around the world through work, play, interests, geography, family, etc. The Gospel Community is a unique community because it is created by the Gospel. This kind of Community forms because of the common recognition that we’re all beggars, we’re all helpless before God because of sin, yet we’re all loved, accepted, and useful to him because of the work of Jesus Christ. The Gospel can be seen and understood through this community as they live in confession, forgiveness, love, justice, mercy, gratitude and acceptance, as they cross lines of age, sex, wealth, and occupation. The Gospel Community can only be explained because of the Gospel, and therefore leads to an inquiry and explanation of the Gospel as we live the Christian walk in everyday life together.
Community Activity can include Shared meals, meeting new people, introducing new people to members of the MC, learning each other’s stories, celebrations, various social activities, sports, etc.
The Christian community is created by the Gospel to show and the share the Gospel. No healthy Christian Community can be inward focused. Rather it is always seeking to join God’s mission through transforming its community through acts of love and the proclamation of the person and work of Christ. Because the Christian community demonstrates and validates the gospel, mission shouldn’t usually be a lone activity. Wherever possible we want to do mission together and introduce unbelievers to the Christian community.
Mission activity can include service projects, cleaning, fixing, building, painting structures and homes in your neighborhood. They can include, sharing the Story of God, sharing the Gospel, offering prayer, investing in and enriching the lives of others, seeking a relationship with those you don’t know, inviting others into the lives of an MC and the Church.
A healthy MC has a balance of activities shaped by these values. Yet not all MCs start this way. For example, Many Missional Communities will have a greater emphasis on Community early on. For most people, a growing relationship is necessary before they are willing to open up about their faith life, fears, doubts, and hopes . A good relational foundation usually needs to be established before they are willing to trust you enough to be vulnerable in the Gospel or take risks in Mission.
As relationships are built, and trust is earned, it is time to introduce more Gospel and Mission elements. At first, you may have simply had a prayer at the beginning of a social activity and may have demonstrated small acts of kindness and service. Over time, you’ll probably add some sort of short devotional, and find some organized way to serve others in your community.
Your end goal is that you’re spending equal time on Gospel, Community, and Mission oriented activities and events. You’ll be going through the Story-Formed Way, the Gospel-Centred Life, or some other bible Study. You’ll be discipling one another in all three types of activities, and you’ll be regularly and intentionally serve in your neighborhood or community.
Remember that there is a great deal of overlap between each of these values. While everything you can do probably has a dominant GCM value at play, usually one or both of the other values are also present as well.
For more on GCM Values and Missional Communities check out the GCM Collective.
A quick note on what how “religion” is used here. We’re not using “religion” to describe a dedicated Christian who attends a church service. Rather, Religion here really means religious performance, trying to attain God’s salvation by your own goodness or works. The diagram above, I believe clearly shows this, yet I felt it necessary to make the distinction since so many are caught up in the delusion that one can belong to Christ and not be part of his Church.
That said, seeing the distinction between religon, irreligion and the Gospel is pretty important. We daily fall into disbelief and need to examine ourselves as to where we aren’t believing the Gospel. I often use the 4 G’s for this. Yet this diagram is helpful to check your motives and attitudes to see if they’re in light with Gospel belief or are the result of falling to the left or the right.
Tim Keller’s in his book, The Prodigal God, draws this distinction from the Parable of the Prodigal Son. He talks of how there’s really two lost sons in that story: The irreligious younger son who runs away from home and disownes his father by trying to make his own way, but also the prideful religious Pharisaical son who stays but really wants to replace his father through his own performance and hard work. Keller says the Story leaves you yearning for a true elder brother who would go out and look for his lost brother. He says it leaves you yearning for Christ.
The Gospel is the answer to both religion and irreligion. Only in the Gospel can you rest, trusting in your true Elder Brother, Jesus, to save you and bring you home, and trusting in the gracious love of your Heavenly Father to run and accept you when you arrive.
Picture found Here along with some great Gospel-Centered resources.
We are made Christians through the Gospel. As Christians we’re called to share the Gospel. Yet so many of us don’t know how. This is an excellent teaching from Jeff Vanderstelt about what the Gospel is and how to permeate your Missional Community or church with it. Watch the following video. Consider the questions below.
- How does walking in repentance and belief in the Gospel make you humble? How does it make you bold?
- Why do we need a community to help us believe and walk in the gospel?
- Jeff said, “Every excuse is a gospel opportunity?” What does he mean by that?
- How does Jeff’s explanation of the Gospel expand your own view of the Gospel? How is it helpful?
- Jeff shared 4 questions that help us talk about the Gospel, our beliefs, and lives. He asks, 1. Who is God(His Character and nature)? 2. What has He done (Christ’s Person and Work)? 3. Who are we (as a result of who God is and what he’s done)? 4. How do we live now (as a result…)? How is this helpful in calling us to true belief and action?
- Jeff lays down a storyline: Creation –> Fall –> Redemption –> Restoration. How does this storyline help you understand your’s and other’s stories? How does it help you understand false stories in yours or other’s lives?
- How is Christ’s life, death, and resurrection a benefit not just for salvation, but in everyday life?
Here’s some great notes from Jeff on Gospel Fluency that covers much of what he’s sharing in this talk.
The Soma School Notes also fill in much of what Jeff speaks about in this video which is missing from the Gospel Fluency document.
I’m a church planter and this blog is published to help my core group and missional community grow in their understanding and living of the Christian life on mission through missional training.
One of the resources that I’m using is Steve Timmis & Tim Chester’s The Gospel-Centred Life: becoming the person God wants you to be. This material was created to help “Ordinary Christians live the truly extraordinary life that God calls us to.” It continually teaches and demonstrates, through scriptures and stories, how the Gospel message changes everything. It will help reshape your identity, how you spend your time and money, how you prioritize your life, how you deal with heartache and how you witness to others in everyday non-threatening ways.
This booklet could be used as a small group study. Yet we are using it more for a weekly devotion for each of our leaders. Our Core group meets every Tuesday. I ask them to read each chapter on their own every Wednesday and come back to it once or twice a week. I want my core group to not only read the content but to live it and incorporate it into their lives. Then at the next meeting we discuss the content and how we’ve put it into action or how it’s changed us. This material has been a helpful tool to slowly shift our perspectives and priorities. Its helped us to understand the Gospel more and to understand how to live with greater Gospel intentionality.
A few weeks ago I got to travel to Huntsville Alabama to attend the GCM conference at Summit Crossings Community Church. Summit Crossings is an awesome church, are wonderful hosts, and are passionate about the spreading and living the Gospel. The only difficulty the whole week was when the plumbing broke and I had the pleasure of peeing outside with 300+ other men (only in Alabama). All-in-all we learned much about the Gospel and how to commend the Gospel with our lives. Below are the best audio from the main sessions that I wanted to share.
Update: you can now go to the GCM Website and download 12 breakout sessions for free.
If you’re passionate about living a Gospel-centered life, missional communities, or missional living check out the GCM Collective. GCM stands for Gospel Community Mission. Their purpose stated on their website is:
“The GCM Collective exists to promote, create and equip Gospel Communities on Mission.
A gospel community[or missional community] is a group of believers that lives out the mission of God together as family, in a specific area to a particular people group, by declaring and demonstrating the gospel in tangible forms. Regular people, living ordinary lives, with great gospel intentionality.
The GCM Collective is a community that allows people to exchange ideas, resources and encouragement around topics that relate to creating gospel communities on mission.”
The GCM collective is a great community with a very active forum on various topics dealing with Missional Communites and Gospe-centered life. The conversation is lead by Steve Timmis, Tim Chester, Jeff Vanderstelt, Caesar Kalinowski, David Fairchild, Drew Goodmanson, Jonathan Dodson You should check them out.