Gospel Life (Part 5)

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Gospel Life, Part Five:  The Where of the Mission, Environments

When Jesus tells us to go and make disciples in Matthew 28:19, the Greek translation is more like He is saying, “as you go, make disciples.”  As we’ve seen in a previous post, we should not confine discipleship to a place or an event – , it should be seen in the everyday moments of life.

At Summit Crossing, we believe that there are at least four environments where disciples are regularly made.  Environment does not mean “two hours every Monday morning at Starbucks” or for thirty minutes at mom’s morning out.”  Environments are regular places that are not bound by time where we regularly live life. Let’s quickly examine these four environments:

HOME

This is the smallest and simplest unit and refers specifically to each individual household.  In essence, the Home is both the beginning of the Collective and the driving point of each Collective.  We equip the church extensively and should expect to see exponential Gospel reproduction from the Home.  In a word, this environment is characterized by Family.  This is where understanding our identity as Family begins.

DNA

This is a very critical piece of Gospel Community.  Discipleship is often overlooked or over-programmed. At this environment, smaller groups with the Missional Community engage in intentional and regular discipleship.  This is the most efficient way to initiate and grow spiritual depth both in understanding and in radical obedience.  This is also the place where reproducing fellow passionate disciples happens best.  In a word, this layer is characterized by Intimacy.  This environment is a non-negotiable.  Healthy Collectives on Mission will be most characterized by a healthy DNA layer This is where specific equipping takes place.

MISSIONAL COMMUNITY

This is the middle ground.  Missional Communities (MC) are the heartbeat of both the gathered and the scattered church.  The MC should be heavily influenced both by what happens at the DNA and Collective levels.  However, the MC also pushes folks hard in each direction. It pushes to be smaller (Home and DNA) and to be much bigger (Collective). In a word, this layer is characterized by Community.  This is where the corporate body exercises care and gospel application from an individual heart that has been discipled.

COLLECTIVE

A Collective is a group of geographically related Missional Communities.  A Collective is the large, loud, and radial expression of corporate communities.  This environment takes discipled hearts (Home and DNA) and obedient communities (MC) and explodes these Kingdom expressions into growing concentric circles of our world -from the neighborhood, to the city, to the ends of the earth!  This is the environment where the “big tasks” of the global commission get accomplished.  It is both the big front door where the world enters into Gospel community and the big exit door where the Church enters the world.  In a word, this environment is described by Corporate.  This is where the church engages the world at large.

You can see that we have countless opportunities to pursue discipleship in multiple places, in multiple ways, and in the everyday moments of life.

We have now covered the Who, What, How, and Where of Gospel Mission.  We will finish up with one final discussion on how all this truly goes together to produce healthy  Collectives.

 

THE GOSPEL LIFE (PART 4): Rhythms

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Gospel Life, Part Four:  The How of the Mission, Gospel Rhythms

 

Jesus left us with a great commission and with the greatest equipper.  The great commission reminds us that Jesus has all power and authority – in knowing that, we are to go and make disciples along the way.  He promised us the Holy Spirit, the most powerful equipper who gives us all knowledge of the Truth and empowers us to succeed in Christ’s commands.

 

How do we make disciples?  This is a critical question and one that we often over-think.  We are busy folks and have filled up our days with all kinds of good stuff.  There are two problems with this:

 

  1. We do not leave any margin for spontaneous discipleship moments. In short, we just do not have time for these unexpected opportunities.
  2. We assume discipleship to be a similar event to those we scribble on our calendars and plug into our iPhones. Therefore, we try to fit it into our schedules just like a T-ball practice, doctor’s checkup, or lunch meeting.

 

This often leads to not being able to fit everything into our busy weeks and we feel like discipleship failures.  Our response is to just give up or force discipleship to happen where it doesn’t fit. This behavior proves just how much we’ve failed to really understand true discipleship.

 

It’s not an event – it is a lifestyle!  Life presents many wonderful opportunities in the everyday moments to participate in God’s plan of genuine discipleship. So, I am challenging each of you to look at your Google Calendars, kitchen whiteboards, and paper planners and ask the following.

 

  1. What am I doing that tends to get in the way?  Perhaps there are some things I’m doing that eat away at the margin I should be building into my life to allow myself to foster relationships and build connections that grow in genuine discipleship.
  2. Of what’s left of my time, how can I see gospel moments in all of these commitments and activities? Are there opportunities to disciple that I am missing?  Maybe leveraging the relationships I have to grow and share gospel life with these people is why my calendar is so full.

 

In summary, the mission of making disciples is not an addition to an already busy life.  The mission is the lens through which we should see all of life!  As missionary families, we look at our culture and we see every moment of every day as an opportunity to be on mission together.  We live as disciple-driven missionaries in the everyday rhythms of life.  At Summit Crossing, we believe that all people engage in very normative rhythms.

 

HERE ARE THE FOUR WE SEE IN OUR PART OF THE WORLD:

 

  • Eat:  We regularly eat meals with others to invite them into Gospel Community.  This is something that everyone does, at least three times a day.  There are countless opportunities to disciple here!

 

  • Bless:  We intentionally bless others through words, gifts, and actions.  God promised Abraham that all the nations of the world would be blessed through him.  This was fulfilled in Christ and is continued in us, His church!

 

  • Celebrate:  We gather together regularly to celebrate God’s extravagant blessings in Jesus.  We should throw the best parties in town!  Our parties should be legendary and the world gets to see Christ in our celebrations

 

  • Recreate:  We take time to rest, play, create, and restore beauty in ways that reflect God and the work of the Gospel to others.  When Christ came, He brought the Kingdom, the beginning of making all things new.  We now get to work with Him in this restorative movement until the day all things are united in Him!

 

Truly, we get to make disciples in the everyday moments of life.  It’s a pleasure, not an obligation.  It’s a lifestyle, not an event.  Next week we will examine where this happens.

 

Note:  Thanks so much to our brothers at Soma Communities who significantly influenced us in these rhythms!  

 

GOSPEL LIFE, PART 3: OUR MISSION, WHAT WE DO

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QUICK REVIEW

 

In Part One, we discussed the “why” behind it all. The Gospel is the good news of Jesus Christ whereby He ransomed a people for Himself to unify all things together in the fullness of time so that the world might know the reality of God in all His goodness.

 

In Part Two, we discussed how the reality of this good news gives us a new identity. As redeemed believers, we are not defined by what we do. Who we are is now based on His perfect work – not on our ruined attempts to be good, and what we do is an outpouring of our new identity in him.

 

This changes everything! With this understanding of the “Why” and the “Who,” we now turn our attention to the “What.”  How does the Gospel inform what we do – our Mission?

 

WHAT IS OUR MISSION?

 

This may seem overly simplistic, but our Mission is to make disciples. This is what we are to do with the rest of our lives. If we aren’t careful, we will dress up church or design overly complicated systems to produce numbers – all in the name of discipleship. And we totally miss the one thing Christ commanded us to do.  All the other mandates we find in scripture assume the directive that the church is to be about disciple-making.

 

WHAT IS A DISCIPLE? 

 

A disciple is quite simply a follower or learner. To be a disciple of Christ is to be a follower of Christ. This is exactly what Christ prescribes in Luke 9:23:

 

And he said to all, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me.”

 

HOW DO WE MAKE DISCIPLES?

 

Again, this is actually not a complex answer. It is actually more difficult to apply than to understand. Remember Matthew 28:18-20:

 

And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me.  Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you.  And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”

 

WE SEE THREE LINKS IN THE CHAIN OF MAKING DISCIPLES:

 

GO AND MAKE DISCIPLES. 

 

The Greek translation of this phrase actually adds a whole new understanding to this basic English phrase. Jesus is literally saying, “As you go, make disciples.” The idea is that disciple-making is not a specific, defined event necessarily, but it actually happens as we go, where we go, and when we go. It’s a fluid process, continually changing. We will talk about this more in the next blog.

 

BAPTIZE INTO TRINITARIAN IDENTITY. 

 

This phrase means that we baptize those who profess faith in Christ. Let’s not get too fancy with this. There are some incredible implications for community when it comes to baptism. Our baptism into the names of the Trinity is an outward sign of our new identities. With that being said, one of the roles of community in discipleship is to consistently affirm our new identities in the Trinity to one another. We are to remind each other daily who we really are – not what we feel like, not who we act like – but who Christ says we are.

 

TEACH THE COMMANDS OF CHRIST. 

 

This is simple and should remain clear. As followers of Christ we are to regularly gather together to study, teach, and apply the commands of Christ to our lives. This happens in proactive ways by implementing committed plans of study. This also happens in reactive ways such as the spontaneous opportunities to apply the Gospel to each other’s lives in the “ordinary” moments of every day.

 

Disciple-making happens in many environments at SC3. The most obvious environments for us are the Home, DNA groups, Missional Communities, and Collectives. We will discuss these in a later post.

 

 HERE ARE A COUPLE OF POINTS TO NOTE IN CONCLUSION:

 

  • Disciple-making happens best in smaller environments. The larger the environment, the less likely true discipleship will happen.
  • Disciple-making increases with practice and equipping.
  • Disciple-making requires us to be ready and open to the work of the Spirit in the everyday moments of life. Every ordinary moment is a potential moment for discipleship.
  • There is no difference between “evangelism” and “discipleship.” Same gospel, same message!

 

We are called to it & it is simple, but it will cost us everything. Honestly, is there anything more worthwhile to give our lives to? Next week we examine Gospel Rhythms, the “How” of the Vision.

 

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THE GOSPEL LIFE (PART 2)

PART TWO – IDENTITY

The core struggle within the soul of every man or woman that has ever lived is that same lingering question, “WHAT IS MY PURPOSE?” Why are we here? I would argue that every religious or philosophical system has risen out of the attempt to answer this very question.

If we aren’t careful, this superficial question can often ignore a much deeper thought – “Who are we?” We will wrestle with this deeper question the rest of our lives, as it will drive us to either action or apathy until we die.

Man generally answers this exactly opposite from the Gospel. Left to his own devices, man derives his identity from what he does. Test this theory and see what happens. Ask someone to tell you their story – who they are – and really listen to what they say. They will almost invariably answer you by describing what they do for a living. In this response, their identity will always be tied not only to what they do but also to how well they do it. We are driven by our own performance and measure ourselves accordingly.

Oddly enough, this isn’t limited to the secular world. Every religious system in the history of the world with the exception of “true” Christianity is based on man’s ability to do more good than bad. The religious identity of each man is tied to his/her human performance based on a given set of standards or rules.

The Gospel is exactly opposite of this mindset. In the Gospel, we see that we are completely unable to do anything good. We are literally born in sin to sin. We see quickly that we can do nothing to change this. The Gospel is the good news that tells us that God loves us too much to see us stay in sin. This is why, before the foundation of the world, He planned to send His perfect Son to die the death we deserved and justify us by faith. He would make us clean and adopt us back into the family we lost through our own selfish rebellion. If this is true, it changes everything – especially our identity. In this truth, our identity precedes and defines our purpose. All of this shows that in the Gospel, we do what we do because of who we already are in Christ. I want to briefly explore two scriptural mandates. First, Genesis 1:28:

And God blessed them. And God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it, and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over every living thing that moves on the earth”

In the above verses, we see that we were created in the very image of God. Our first human identity is that of an image bearer of God. Imagine the worth in that statement – what if we really believed that? What if we really believed that we were created to exist in unity and harmony with our creator and to multiply His image throughout the earth? If we believed this, then our actions and purpose would be based on that true identity. The problem is that our sin has not only separated us from our Creator but has caused identity distortion in epidemic proportions. Not only do we no longer know who God is because of our separation from Him, we no longer know who we are. This has led to each of us seeking to find ourselves in a plethora of misinterpreted, self-centered, fruitless, destructive ways.

However, the Gospel reminds us that Jesus Christ came to redeem us, our identity, and therefore, our purpose. We see the culmination of this in great commission in Matthew 28:18-20:

And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”

We see above that we are to go and make disciples relying solely on our redeemed identity in Christ alone. At SC3, our mission statement is to “Know the Gospel, Connect in Gospel Relationships, and Live the Gospel in the World.” This mission is driven by our redeemed identities. In verse 19, we see that the mission is driven from Trinitarian identities we are now baptized into:

…IN THE NAME OF THE FATHER – WE ARE FAMILY (CONNECT)

We are adopted sons and daughters of the Father. We were formerly orphans and the Gospel reminds us that Jesus shed His blood so that we may be adopted into His family. Permanently! This identity liberates Connection in Gospel relationships as we love one another and show the world the reality of the person and work of Jesus Christ.

…AND OF THE SON – WE ARE DISCIPLES (KNOW)

We are learning followers of Jesus. He has called us to deny ourselves daily, leave our old life, and follow Him. This identity liberates us to Know the Gospel in a complete and intimate way. We gladly live so that we may know Christ and others may be discipled towards Him and in Him.

…AND OF THE HOLY SPIRIT – WE ARE MISSIONARIES (LIVE)

When Jesus left this earth, He called us to go into all the world and make disciples – to be the family of God together as missionaries. This identity liberates us to Live the Gospel out in a world that is lost and hopeless.

This post exists for you to understand this – the Gospel doesn’t tell us to try hard to experience family, to make disciples, and to act as missionaries. The Gospel actually tells us that through the work of Christ we are family, disciples, and missionaries. We don’t HAVE to live Gospel Identity lives. Instead, we GET to live these lives in joy and freedom.

This is what a Missional Community is – the family of God on mission to make disciples in everyday life.

Next week we’ll explore “What We Do – Our Mission.” With this future post, we will see how our gospel identities play into our everyday mission.

Please make sure to reference our Gospel Life diagram to help you get a handle on how Identity fits into the mission of the church (www.summitcrossing.org/about/vision/).

 

The Gospel Life (Part 1)

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A SIX PART BLOG SERIES ON THE MISSION OF SUMMIT CROSSING COMMUNITY CHURCH

 

PART ONE – GOSPEL LIFE INTRODUCTION

 

Church culture is a peculiar thing. In some church cultures it can be easy to melt into a church and never be known. It can be equally hard to “go to church” and try your best, but never be known. So what is the purpose of the church? What are the practices of a church and how do you measure these practices in the 21st century against the birth of this whole deal some 2,000 years ago?

 

Every church on every corner has a purpose or mission statement. Some churches won’t budge an inch from their mission statement while others easily change with the spiritual winds leaning whichever way will produce the best results.

 

With all the wishy-washy, confusion – we can agree, that church culture is indeed a peculiar thing. Whether you are brand new to Summit Crossing or have been around since the “house church” days – we hope that our mission is clear. We also hope that not only have you been exposed to our mission but you’ve been able to give yourself fully to it. But – we completely realized that it can be really challenging to walk into a big place, learn the language of the culture, and seamlessly start applying it to your life and family. That’s why this web post is here! Over the course of the next few weeks, leading up to our annual Vision Sermon Series, I’d like to introduce you (or reintroduce you) to Summit Crossing Community Church.

 

As we begin this journey together, I’d like to give you two important pieces of information:

 

  1. I am the Community Life pastor here at Summit and part of my job is to help folks get connected. Please put me to work! I have a ton of margin intentionally built into my weekly schedule for breakfast meetings, lunch dates, coffee breaks, and even dinners with Summit-goers that have questions like you. Take advantage!
  2. Our Gospel Life illustration (link below). We will use this illustration to frame our discussions over the next couple of weeks. Here’s a quick outline of what that discussion will look like:

 

EMAIL  ILLUSTRATION

 

  • Part One – Gospel Life Introduction
  • Part Two – Identity – Who We Are
  • Part Three – Mission – What We Do
  • Part Four – Rhythms – How We Live
  • Part Five – Environments – Where We Live
  • Part Six – Healthy Collectives

 

It is my hope that this series of posts will not merely be an academic exercise but a clearly designed illustration and explanation of gospel truths. I hope to bring these truths to life with stories of the missional communities at SC3. Through our missional community groups, God’s grace is not only seen but experienced.

 

It is also my hope that you will read, digest, and question these posts. Please email me with questions. I would love to add a blog or two to this with your questions and answers. This is an open discussion.

 

AN INTRODUCTION TO THE JOURNEY AHEAD.

 

Before we talk about all the things that are involved in Gospel Life, we must first address the Gospel. The Gospel is literally the “why” behind all the other questions. It is one of those church concepts that is assumed knowledge for all involved. However, we cannot make the assumption that everyone who walks through our doors knows what we mean when we say “we love the Gospel” or “we are a Gospel-centered church.” Let’s clarify.

 

WHAT IS THE GOSPEL?

 

The Gospel means “good news.” Tim Keller says this: “In short, the Gospel is the truth that God Himself has come to earth among us to rescue and renew creation in and through the work of Jesus Christ on our behalf.”

 

It is very easy to see a small, self-centered view of the Gospel. When we limit our view of Christ’s power in the Gospel, we limit Christ. We dwindle down our understanding of the Gospel to this: Christ’s life, death on the cross, and resurrection from the tomb. Now don’t get me wrong, this is an essential part of the Gospel and perhaps the vital core of it…but that is not ALL we are to see. If this is all we see, then we are at risk of putting ourselves in the middle of the Gospel, ultimately seeing it as OUR own story versus the great, all encompassing, work of Jesus Christ.

 

We believe in a really big view of the Gospel. Massive, monstrous, ginormous. A kingdom-sized view that is so much more than our story. The Gospel is God’s story about Himself, His creation and the redemption of His creation to magnify His glory in the entire universe. When we see the Gospel as bigger than just our story, it changes everything – our identity, our mission, and even the way we live.

 

Let’s spend the next few weeks unpacking these huge Gospel implications on the church, our lives, and how these work together within community.

 

Next week, we will talk about how the Gospel gives us identity and purpose.

 

http://michaelwallenmeyer.com/2013/03/28/interview-with-mark-sellers-about-missional-community-life/

http://michaelwallenmeyer.com/2013/03/28/interview-with-mark-sellers-about-missional-community-life/

Like A Child

“And they were bringing children to him that he might touch them, and the disciples rebuked them.  But when Jesus saw it, he was indignant and said to them, “Let the children come to me; do not hinder them, for to such belongs the kingdom of God.  Truly, I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God like a child shall not enter it.”  And he took them in his arms and blessed them, laying his hands on them.

Mark 10:13-16

What an incredible account sandwiched between Jesus’ provocative teaching on divorce and the rich young ruler and His triumphant entry.  Reading this passage this morning led me to meditate on a few questions:

1. Who am I bringing to Jesus? Apparently there was this idea that you should bring your kid to Jesus.  Now obviously, this wasn’t being done by the disciples (who was supposed to know Him well), and I am pretty sure it wasn’t the preachers’ kids (the “preachers” hated Him).  This was the common men and women.  They seemed to know Jesus better than those who should.  Do I value Jesus such that I bring others to him “that he might touch them”?

2. Who am I rebuking? It concerns me that the disciples of Christ rebuked those who wanted to be touched by Jesus.  Heartbreaking.  I am a disciple of Christ.  How am I “protecting” Him from touching others (not good)?  How do I get in the way of others touching Him with my words?  An even more scary question:  How does my life rebuke others who are trying to be touched by Jesus?  I don’t want to belittle God’s sovereignty by any means, but my life does testify to some kind of belief about Christ that others see…

3. How do I receive the Kingdom? The Kingdom of God is here.  It is also still coming.  There is this tension between the simplicity and complexity of the Kingdom.  What a struggle.  I love the depth of scripture and the mystery of the Gospel.  There is nothing wrong with devouring it to the fullest.  But, has theology become my God?  My idol?  Do I receive the Kingdom as a child?  Is my faith that simple, that strong?  My child receives me without condition, its pretty amazing.  He hasn’t been clued into my human condition…yet.  The smarter I get, the dumber I get.

May I have a robust theology surrounded by the childlike kind of faith that brings others to Jesus and does not rebuke them in coming to be touched by Him.