Engaging culture is cool. It is an appealing cause to partake in especially for Christian college students. Missional communities are formed around reaching certain people groups and are structured to be welcoming and appealing. Many of our Living Rooms spend time meeting new people, hanging out on campus, throwing parties, playing volleyball, paintballing, hiking, hosting game nights, serving the homeless, and even one (freshman) Living Room is known for playing cops are robbers. All of these things have been done within the context of gospel-communties with the intentions of engaging and inviting in people who don’t know Jesus yet.
I have been extremely encouraged by the ways our Living Rooms have been able to center themselves around specific people groups and welcome those people into our communities. Our Living Rooms are filled with students who are getting smashed by the gospel of Jesus and have been seeking ways to demonstrate the gospel to those who don’t know Christ. My concern, however, is the lurking lack of proclamation of the gospel. Overall, we’ve been fruitful through demonstrating the gospel, but have fallen short in many ways of declaring the gospel.
It is important to understand that at the forefront of God’s mission is his spoken Word. We see in Scripture that God spoke creation into existence. In the Old Testament he spoke through the prophets. In the gospels he spoke through his Son. And now in the age of the church he speaks through his people. The nature of mission is evangelistic because God moves through spoken word. Missional communities cannot be missional without being evangelical. Mission is not solely engaging through action, but through word as well.
God is not forming communities to be nice people who are socially active. He is creating a people to complete the work that he has started. ( Matthew 28: 16-20; John 20: 19-23; Philippians 1:6)
In Matthew 5:16 Jesus tells us to “let our lights shine so that they may see our good works and give glory to our Father in heaven.” As outsiders are viewing a Living Room what do you think their response will be? “Wow, these people are really great!” or “Wow, God is really great!”? I would contend that they initial response would be to give glory to the community instead of the Father. In order for them to see our good works and give glory to our Father in heaven they will need to be directed to the Father through our spoken word. The only way this will happen is if the gospel is demonstrated and declared at the same time. We need to declare the why.
As missionaries we build relationships and invite outsiders into community, but not for the sake of community itself. We build relationships and invite others into our community so that they may hear the gospel of Christ. The sole reason why we have Living Rooms is so that people who hear the gospel and be transformed.
- How have I been able to declare the gospel?
- What fears do I have with declaring the gospel?
- How can we (Living Room) proclaim the gospel to the people group we’re engaging?
- Do I pray for God to open doors and give me words to speak? (Col 4:3-4)
- Do I seek ways to share the gospel with people God has put in my life?