MENU

CHRIST BUILDS COMMUNITY OUT OF THE MESS

 

Despite all the tools, ideas and skill you have, you cannot create a team, community, or church that bears with each other in love. In fact, I can guarantee there will be awkwardness, empty promises, lies, disappointments, and mini disasters. Despite all of your attempts to clarify the gospel and the implication that we ought to love one another, the people you lead will not.

Your team, more often than not, will feel like it is only a few steps away from falling apart. Succumbing to the desires of our flesh to be the most significant, most comfortable, or most independent. Even as Jesus uttered the command to love one-another to his disciples, they harbored bitterness, fear, greed, and self-righteousness. If we can’t make people love each other, what do we do?

This disappointment often brings out the hero complex in leaders. As they help shape a team and begin to watch people grow in caring for one another, they are tempted to be the martyr-hero in each persons’ story by themselves. “If they wont love each other, I will each of them alone”. As things go poorly for different members or the whole, this leader rushes to solve things. They force conflict resolution meetings, interventions, and tell people what to do next. When things still go poorly, they blame themselves. All the while they’ve lost sight of the Christ who called them to community or to each other for mission. They neglect the Savior who forms community. They forget they are a disciple of Jesus and they’ve abandoned the journey of discipleship Christ by making disciples of themselves.

Other leaders approach this disappointment by looking for new recruits. They look at the chaos of their community, team, or church and conclude: “If only I had some serious radical Christians this would work. These people just don’t get it.” However, in the words of Eugene Peterson: “There are no green beret Christians.” While you covet people who “get it,” God has given you a few sorry saints to simply love—not control and not to dismiss, but to love the way Jesus loved his disciples.

The people we lead are a mess and so are we. Their disfunction is ours. It is telling that the same night Jesus gave the disciples to love-another, he inaugurated communion. He held up the bread and the wine saying: “This is my body and my blood giving for you.” This is the foundation.

Leaders, don’t miss out on the transformative joy of growing in love for your fellow brother or sister under the passion, love, and grace of Jesus himself. How do you see yourself as a disciple of Jesus among disciples of Jesus? How do you receive His love through them?

Our communities, churches, and teams are usually less messy and more holy than we believe. We typically fixate on fixing the weakness without glorifying God in our weaknesses.

 

Published on by Cassie Littel.

No Comments

How Do We Love Our Neighbors

Mission is not ours; mission is God's. Certainly, the mission of God is the prior reality out of which flows any mission that we get involved in. Or, as has been nicely put, it is not so much the case that God has a mission for his church in the world but that God has a church for his mission in the world. Mission was not made for the church; the church was made for mission-God's mission.”  Christopher Wright

God’s mission is to make all things new: to redeem and restore the world. His mission is for all to hear, know, believe, repent, and be raised to abundant life. In God’s grace, he not only comes to save us, but sends us out to participate in this magnificent mission. God sets sin’s captives free and they use that freedom to point others to their rescuer. God welcomes orphans into his family as they to invite others into the family. God brings to life those dying from sin, to proclaim the good news of resurrection. God invites us, through the gospel, into this mission. Jesus commands us to love our neighbors and then sends us to towns, villages, and cities.

A missional community is a group of people who are devoted to Jesus, to one another, and to their neighbors and city! They are disciples of Jesus who are committed to making more disciples of Jesus! Therefore, mission is not merely a monthly trip to feed the homeless or a trip to Africa to serve in an orphanage (although those are great things to do!). Mission is a primary and regular expression of gospel-centered community.

How Do We Love Our Cities Together?

We Speak and Serve

Jesus sends his disciples on the mission of preaching the gospel and confronting evil. Missional communities speak the gospel to their neighbors and the poor, they will also demonstrate God’s grace, justice, and love through their actions. Gospel word and deed is simultaneous, just as Jesus preached the gospel of the kingdom and brought the kingdom as he healed. A community centered on Jesus does not stay safe and secluded from the world but runs toward it or better: it invites others into it. 

Your community is called, by Jesus, to make disciples and care for the poor. Which is not two callings but one. As you care for the poor, you invite others to follow Jesus. As you invite people to follow Jesus, you care for the poor. As you invite people to follow Jesus, you invite them to care for the marginalized. As you care for the marginalized, you speak the truth of the gospel. As you invite people to follow Jesus, you bless them with words, actions, and gifts. You show them grace as you speak grace. Participating in God’s mission is word and deed; speaking and doing.

We Seek Relationship and Justice

The people you are called to love and disciple will have many needs. There will be service projects, collections, and donations. Emptying your pocket book will likely be part of following Jesus into his mission. Blessings and gifts will be prevalent. 

The often forgotten gift and the hardest one to give is the gift of relationship. True care for the marginalized requires relationship with the vulnerable. It is through relationship that someone actually travels from being marginalized to being known. When someone becomes a friend and a member of a community, they are no longer being pushed to the outside of society but are being welcomed into the center of it. Imagine the people you are on mission with sitting at your dinner table, sharing a meal, and sharing stories with you. Imagine receiving new relationships from those you are sent to. The mission is not a project. The mission is people.

- Brad Watson

I have a new book for leaders of missional communities called: Sent Together: How the Gospel Sends Leaders to Start Missional Communities. Here is a link to check it out on Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Sent-Together-Leaders-Missional-Communities/dp/0692529071/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1445139794&sr=8-1&keywords=sent+together

Published on by Cassie Littel.

No Comments

5 Lies that Kill Obedience

Our ability to quit and become sidetracked is great. Our hearts are constantly being attacked by lies that keep us from preserving in faith. These five lies are particularly successful. They are deceptive and effecting in killing our conviction to follow Jesus and trust in his work.

1. “You are above this”
This is the lie of strong pride. That the grunt work isn’t for you. I first heard this lie when I cleaned toilets for a church in Los Angeles. You may hear it while you are watching babies in the nursery Sunday after Sunday. Or when you get stood up once again by your not-yet believing friends for dinner. You heart when your neighbors shun you for being crazy people who believe in Jesus. The lie is: “You are better than this.” When you believe this lie, you think you’re entitled to fame. In reality you are only entitled to be called a child of God, and that right there was purchased by Christ. Don't settle for position and fame. If you think you are above the job and task, you will not perceive in obedience. 

2. “You are below this”
Many times it also sounds like: “You don't belong and you don't deserve this.” This is a lie attacking Christ’s ability to work in and through you. If you believe this lie, you believe that God is not at work, but that you are the one at work. This lie leads to fear and rejection of your identity as a donor daughter of God. It is also born our to comparison to others induced of the supremacy of Christ. What’s devastating about this lie is that it paralyzes folks from the obedience that would give God glory. No one is capable or skilled enough to do what God has called them to do. But the Holy Spirit empowers us for the tasks and God is glorified in using us.

3. “If you were better, it would be easier”
This one comes when things feel incredibly hard. It leads to self-loathing and increased suffering. This lie shakes your sense of purpose. You begin to place yourself as the focal point of God’s work and conclude you are either in the way or driving it forward. When things improve, you believe it is because you have done better and have earned it. When things fail, you are certain it is your fault. Similar lies are: “You have to be good to be used for good.” Or:  “You have to smarter, better, quicker, more talented, more educated, rich and moral in order to do good.” This leads to a personal quest for self-rightness, excellence, and God’s job. This lie essentially says: “You are this city’s savior.” Eventually you quit in desperation because you have labored without the Savior.

4. “If it isn’t happening now, it never will”
This lie says: “Today is all there is and God ca’t work tomorrow. If God hasn’t answer your prayers for rebuttal by now, he never will.” When you believe it, you lose perspective on the scope of life and count everything you are doing as worthless. You are no longer content in obedience alone, but want to see what your obedience will create. This is nearsighted dreaming. The lie results in quick quitting or shrinking versions of worthwhile-God-given dreams. This is a lie people believe when they settle for less than the radical surrender and obedience God called them to. When we believe this lie we are saying, “God doesn’t care anymore or he can’t do it.”

5. “You are alone”
This is the hardest one. Our sinful hearts leap to this lie when we are tired and discouraged. The goal of this lie is to isolate you and make you think no one else cared, and no one else is coming to help. No longer are you being obedient to God’s work, but now you feel like a hired hand. It is as if God is paying you to establish a franchise of his kingdom and is looking for a return on his investment. Your belief in this lie says, “Jesus don’ts love me or this city. He didn’t die for this city or for me- God abandons his people.”

Gospel Motivation
At the heart of each of these lies is an attack on your motivation and an attack on the gospel. The truth is Christ died for you. You are loved and you are his son or daughter (1 Jn. 3:1). He has empowered you with his Spirit to be his witness (Act 1:8). He will work in you and through you as he works all things together for good and conforms you to the likeness of Christ (Rom. 8:28-29). He is with you always, even to the end of the age (Matt. 28).

Brad Watson
@BradAWatson

Published on by Cassie Littel.

No Comments