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?
In VI we encourage all of our “Living Rooms” to have a service project that they do as a group. One of the living rooms has decided to adopt I-HELP as their project. If you don’t know, I-HELP is a great outreach to the homeless that churches around the Valley come together to support, VI (and Grace) have taken Tuesday nights. Today, The Arizona Republic did a write-up on I-HELP. It is a great read to get a feel for what some VI’ers are doing for King Jesus… http://www.azcentral.com/community/tempe/articles/2009/09/11/20090911shelter0910.html
On Thursday VI will be defining what it means to be missionaries sent by God into our culture.
We’ll be discussing how mission isn’t just something we do, but it’s also who we are. The goal is that we’re living missionaly, which means living out the gospel in the ordinary rhythms of life.
Here are 5 rhythms we’ll be looking over Thursday (adopted by Tim Chester and The Edge Network):
- Bless – We strive to bless others through word and deed.
- Listen – We take time to listen to people stories to understand them better and learn.
- Eat – We pursue time to share a meal with others.
- Speak – We look for opportunities to speak the gospel in all areas and circumstances.
- Sabbath – We celebrate and party what God has done/is doing.
The hope is that we’re doing all of these things together as a gospel-family and are in turn going out B.L.E.S.S.ing others.
Which of the 5 rhythms are you already living out?
Which ones are you not?
What does it look like to practically live out these missional rhythms in your context (school, work, roommates, etc.)?
Oprah and Dwight talk religion and spirituality.
Why is this important? Because these are two people that shaping our culture.
I had the privilege of spending this past weekend with the Surge Network listening and talking with Carl Ellis about bringing the gospel to bare in our culture.
The weekend was very beneficial in regards to contextualizing the gospel in such a way that speaks people’s language and meets them where they are at.
Here are some notes I took from one of Prof. Ellis’ lectures entitled “Doing Theology In the ‘Nasty Now and Now'” (some parts adapted):
Theology – “The application of God’s Word by persons in every area of life.” – Frame
Basic principles in doing theology –
- Know the author.
- The meaning of the Bible is it’s application to our life situations.
- Not only does God reveal himself in the words of the Bible, but also in the basic patterns of the biblical situations.
- There is no situation we go through in life whose basic pattern is not already revealed in the Bible.
- Prayerfully look for the basic life patterns in biblical stories and situations.
- Prayerfully look for the basic patterns in: a) your life situation b) the life situations in your Living Room.
- Prayerfully match them up when they are alike.
- Prayerfully look into the Scriptures for how God was in control, speaking, and present.
- Then you will have a good framework for understanding how God is: in control of your life situation now, speaking in your life situation now, and present in your life situation now.
Filed under Culture, Gospel
Over the last few weeks I’ve been wrestling with the words Jesus preached in Matthew 5:13-16. He tells us that, by being his disciples, we are the “salt” and “light” to the world. We are to bring flavor and reflect God’s light in the dark and tasteless places of our world.
What has been striking me the most is v16 where Christ tells us to “let our light shine so that others may see our good works and give glory to our Father who is in heaven.” John Stott states that the mandate from Christ is to live as a counter-culture… a Kingdom-culture.
This teaching of Jesus proclaims that we live in such a way that demands an explanation- a gospel explanation.
So how do we live in such a way?
Here are a few ways I believe we can live as a Kingdom-counter-culture that demands an explanation:
- Love Jesus. Sounds simple, but can often be over looked. If we are a people that love Jesus and pursue gospel implications in ever area of life it will change our hearts and behavior. (Romans 2:4)
- Live in gospel community. We’re intended to live together as family. Baring each other’s burdens and providing of each other’s needs will demand an explanation (Acts 2). Working together with our own unique, Spirit given gifts will demand an explanation. Loving, caring, and serving each other will demand an explanation. (Romans 12)
- Going out of your way to bless others. God has blessed us by eternally saving us, but with present implications. God blesses us so that we may be a blessing to others. (Genesis 12)
- Understanding that Jesus is in control. Know that God is sovereign in his placement of you in time and place (Acts 17), he has blessed you, made you a blessing, and is working his mission through you. (Philippians 2)
- Understand that you’re called to freedom in Christ. Christ has set you free from cultural idols – individualism, moralism, consumerism, materialism, humanism. You are set free from being slaves to sin so that you may live gospel-centered, missional-focused lives. (Galatians 5)
- Live through the Grace of God. What difference would it make if you truely believed that there is nothing you can do, good or bad, that could separate you from God? (Romans 8 )
In order to live a life that demands an explanation we must center our lives around the gospel itself.
Imagine what it would look like to have Living Rooms filled with followers of Christ living in such a way that demands a gospel explanation. What impact would it make in north Tempe?
The beauty of the Christian life is that it solely reliant on the Grace of God. Everything is for, through, in, and by Jesus. Pride can slip into our lives if we’re not constantly preaching the Gospel to ourselves and humbly acknowledging God’s work through us.
So what are some evidences of Grace that you see in VI? What ways do you see God working? What areas is he moving in?
Here are a few that I’ve been seeing and rejoicing in:
- God is turning a ministry led by college students into a mission to Tempe and surrounding areas.
- Despite our sin and mistakes God is creating communities of gospel-living young adults.
- Living Rooms are unconditionally loving each other and outsiders.
- The Gospel is transforming lives.
- College students are being equipped for ministry and not wasting their college years.
- College students are developing hearts and compassion for the lost, weak, and broken.
What evidences of Grace are you seeing in VI and your Living Rooms? Go ahead and post yours…..