One of the three things we believe God is wanting us to emphasize among the C2C family in the next few years is “Extension through missional ventures and Spiritual breakthroughs.” As the warm weather seasons are upon us there are unique opportunities for our everyday missions.
We must remember that discipleship, meetings, and mission are all connected in God. In order to be authentic/biblical Christians and churches all three things are to be at work in us. We have used a phrase encompassing this design, “making disciples, who build the church, for the extension of God’s Kingdom (mission).” This should mark everything we do as God’s family together on God’s mission.
Discipleship: The first call upon us is to be “disciples” (followers, learners, and those who cling closely to Jesus). The goal of the great commission in Matthew 28 is to “go and make disciples (not deciders) teaching them to obey (not just know but practice) everything that Jesus said.” The Bible uses the term “disciple” 269 times to refer to those following Jesus. It only uses the term “Christian” 3 times and in one of those it says “the disciples were first called Christians at Antioch” Acts 11:26. In the Gospels Jesus uses the term “follow Me” or “come after me” 25 times. He only says to “believe” in Him 4 times. The emphasis of the Bible is clearly on following Jesus as disciples.
If we don’t become and remain disciples of the Lord Jesus we will be reduced to consumers of Christianity. The selfish nature of sin will always lead us in that direction. We will become “Wal-Mart Christians” always looking for the best products at the lowest price.
God doesn’t want us consuming the religion of Christianity but being consumed by Jesus! Jesus didn’t die to create a religion of consumers, but as Paul said it so wonderfully to be a people “possessed by Him” who would be “zealous” to do His work. Titus 2:13-15…our great God and Savior, Christ Jesus, 14 who gave himself for us to redeem us from every lawless deed, and purify for himself a people for his own possession, zealous for good deeds (to do His works with Him).
Meetings: Disciples meet and walk together, but the goal of the church isn’t to simply “to have meetings.” We meet together to connect with Jesus and one another for strengthening, encouragement, and direction which should lead to mission. A great picture is Jesus walking with the 12 while on earth. They did not just attend meetings together as consumers (to get a word, get filled, get something out of worship, kids taught in a good children’s church etc.) They met and walked together as they were on mission with Jesus.
Missions: Missions is being sent into the world to bring God’s life, love, power, and Kingdom (Gospel). Jesus announced that He was sending us on mission to the earth just before and after His resurrection “as I was sent into the earth I now send you into the earth” (Jn 17:19-20, 20:21).
Jesus modeled this during the three years of His ministry with the disciples. They were a family together on mission. He sent them out in pairs with fellow family members to bring the blessing of the Kingdom to the earth Luke 9-10, Mt 9-11. Every disciple is sent on God’s mission everywhere, all the time, from the time they leave their house in the morning until the time they go to bed.
There is an important connection to discipleship, meetings, and mission. We cannot be “made disciples” unless we have both meetings and mission. Discipleship isn’t just about learning things, it is about doing them. You don’t really know something until you can do it. Mission provides the practical application of most of the things Jesus and the Bible teaches us. We cannot effectively learn them unless we are engaged in doing them. Love and serving are active not just intellectual ideas.
Jesus said the two greatest commands that everything in God rest on are “Loving God with all our heart, soul, mind, and strength and loving our neighbor as our self (Mk 12:28-34, Mt 22:38-39, Lk 10:27-28). Our neighborhoods (both our physical neighborhoods and/or the people that intersect our everyday lives) are a primary mission field. We need to “lift up our eyes and look” (Jn 4:35) and put ourselves in the path of neighbors or potential neighbors. As the warm weather is upon us it’s a great time to put ourselves in the path of neighbors in order to carry the light, love, and power of God to them.
Here are 8 practical suggestions to help put us in the path of neighbors in our every day life as we are on mission.
- Try to do more activity in your front yard instead of the back. Our front yards are closer to the activity of our streets, neighborhoods, and we will be more inclined to see and meet people and/or neighbors. Set on your front porch or front yard which puts us in a good place to meet people.
- Take walks or bike rides in the warm weather and you will inevitably see people you can engage who are out doing yard work, in parks etc.
- Spend some time in and around parks. Many people are there enjoying outdoor activities in the warm weather months. This gives a great opportunity to meet and interact with them.
- Seek God for creative ways to engage with your physical neighbors. Have people over for desserts, cookout, or maybe some sort of “block party.”
- Look for ways to serve that are unique in the warm weather months. If you notice a neighbor’s yard not well kept they may have physical or circumstantial limitations keeping them from caring for it. Ask if they would mind you mowing it. If you see them working on something see if you can lend them a hand. These are excellent opportunities to connect with those who live close to you.
- Small group “love/projects.” Your small groups are great opportunities to go out in pairs, as Jesus sent His disciples to engage in showing the love and power of God.
- Have a some sort of block party. David Hay and family recently did this in Raleigh with great success.
- Pray for people expecting God’s power. This is one of the things Jesus and His disciples did indiscriminately and frequently as they were on mission. Most people we encounter (especially when we notice or they bring up needs) will not oppose an offer to pray for them.