It’s taken me a long time to start this post. I’ve actually completey avoided it. I think it’s because I’m learning something. A huge lesson God is working in me right now is that there are things I am called to and things others are called to – and they don’t have to be the same. It’s ok if I’m called to something crazy and “out there” and my church is not. It’s ok to be drawn to the city while friends have a heart for rural folks. It’s ok.
And maybe my church really isn’t called to what they think they are called to. Maybe they aren’t supposed to be about business and system and rules and structure. Maybe they have too many events and don’t equip people for leadership or service. Maybe they worry too much about money and not being “taken advantage of”. Maybe they miss the gray in their world of black and white. Maybe God does want to change them. Maybe.
But God has made it clear that, for now, I need to ignore that. Nobody’s perfect. Least of all me. So, he’s working in me that there are things he has to work in me. I’m not saying I don’t believe all those things I wrote about living missionally. I do. But I have heard quite clearly that God is teaching ME these things, and I need not worry whether or not my organized church is learning it too. I think he’s saying “Learn and Do – and I’ll take care of the rest”.
So as I think about what the next step is, I have a hard time writing it. Mostly because I only know what the next steps for me are, and the general gist of where I think church needs to go next. But I guess I could start there.
…sharing life with people that are not my family DAILY. And when I say life I mean my house, my schedule, my time, my food, my LIFE. I want to live where people can come over, bring their family and hang out. Where I can just throw more food on the table and welcome them. Where they can drop their kids off and run to the store alone without even calling first. Where they can come over at 10am because they ran out of coffee and know I always have a pot ready. I want to trust people to care for my kids and love theirs enough to care for them also. I want to share life. We experienced a taste of this when our best friends lived here – and we want it again. More of it.
…sharing a common mission, focus or passion with the people I am sharing life with daily. I want to be encouraged by those I commune with to serve God and love people. Whether it is a passion to serve high school kids, teen moms, the homeless, drop-outs, the unloved and unwanted, orphans, or our neighbors – I want to passionately live to serve people together as a community of faith. I want to share a purpose. I want to share a mission.
…living as if my comfort means nothing.
…seeing need around me.
…taking ownership for my part of the oppression and sadness that surrounds me. “We’ve gotta hold up the mirror and share in the blame.” (that’s Caedmon’s Call, by the way).
…BEING the incarnational church (the body of Christ incarnate in this world) to those around us. There are millions of people who are hopeless, downcast and oppressed. We are called to love our neighbor as ourselves. If someone treated me the way I see others being treated, I would not keep silent. So, I must speak on their behalf anytime I can.
…seeing what God has given me and figuring out how to use it to bless others. From my used clothing to my cans of beans to my photography skills to the love my family has – it’s not just for us. It is to share.
…being willing to sell my plot of land, bring the money in and put it in a pot for anyone who needs it. I want to live where I can give as easily as I can take – but where I feel the freedom to do both. We are too proud most of the time, and are not good at taking when we need to take. I’d love open pot living, where money is given freely for whoever needs it, and those who need it feel the safety to come and take without fear of judgment or second glances.
…not caring what music is played, what color the chairs are or who shakes my hand. I am way too consumeristic. I need to lay down my ideas that things need to be pleasing to me and instead, actively search for God in everything. I get too caught up in my own opinions and comfort.
…realizing that church happens more outside of Sunday service than inside. Sermons are great, as is gathering and fellowship and communal worship – but the vast majority of our lives happen outside of Sunday morning. God doesn’t stop working after the closing prayer. On the contrary, most of what he’s doing is in the streets, houses, schools, soccer fields, swim meets, office buildings, gyms and coffee shops. We need to remember that Jesus CAME TO US. And we are called to do the same. Sometime I think most of the work that we do on a Sunday morning falls under the category of Modern Day Pharisee. “And it feels like the church isn’t anything more than the second coming of the Pharisees. Scrubbing each other ’til their tombs are white, they chisel epitaphs of piety…” (that’s Andrew Peterson).
…remembering the greatest commandment(s) – Love God, Love others. And, to quote DC Talk (gotta love that old school christian rap!) “Love is a verb”. We must go. We must do. We must reach. We must give. Not because we have to. But because we love, and loving is doing. You can do without loving, but you can’t love without doing. Talk is cheap, right? We’ve got to BE the church – Jesus body in motion as an outpouring of His love for all that He created and died for. Again, NOT BECAUSE WE HAVE TO, but because when we love, our hearts are compelled to.
This is vague and somewhat abstract, I know. It’s because I want you to jump in and add detail. Where is God calling you to live with mission? How do you share life with people? What do you think needs to be changed? What is He changing in you? Who has He called you to love? How is God calling you to live more communally, more missionally, more intentionally, more uncomfortably, more freely? What’s next for you? I know things are changing and I am listening intently for you to tell me how. God’s expression of church, body, mission and love are different everywhere (though He is unchanging). How do these things express themselves where you are?