Over the last 18 months at COMMUNITY we have made strategic moves in order to mobilize all (yes, we mean ALL) our people for mission. Part of that process has been to clearly articulate in a simple way our mission and how we will carry it out. The mission is “helping people find thier way back to God” and the way we will accomplish it is throug the 3 R’s. What is below is the script from a voice over I did for a video to explain in a concise way the Jesus mission at COMMUNITY.
MISSION: At COMMUNITY we have accepted the mission of Jesus and simply say it like this: “helping people find their way back to God.” This mission is made up of three tasks:
REACH. First, we must reach people far from God. The Western Church is observing a dramatic shift from a Christian culture to a post-Christian one. It is now suggested that 60% of the people we want to reach will never enter the doors of our current forms of church. If that is true, we then need to allow our imaginations to be profoundly shaped by the biblical notion that God is sending us as He sent Himself in Jesus. Matthew 28 says to “Go!” and we are challenging ourselves to be the church who will reach people who are far from God.
RESTORE. We must also restore God’s dream for the world. A common perception among pre-Christians is that Christ-followers talk about poverty and justice issues, but that we don’t do much to address those issues. But Jesus expects us to change that perception. “He unrolled the scroll and found the place where this was written: “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, for he has anointed me to bring Good News to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim that captives will be released, that the blind will see, that the oppressed will be set free.” (Luke 4:17-18) It is our mission to be a people who restore God’s dream for the world.
REPRODUCE. We must then reproduce the mission in others. If we are called to go to “Jerusalem…Judea…Samaria… and to the ends of the earth,” we have to find a new way of counting that results in rapid reproduction and exponential growth. This new math counts on you and your friends to start a missional church movement. Every movement starts with one person. When you and your friends follow the biblical example to become apprentices of Jesus, (2 Timothy 2:2) the result can be the beginning of a missional church movement. Through these apprenticeships, we will reproduce the mission in others.
That’s the Jesus Mission. Now go.
This past weekend we wrapped up one of the most powerful series ever at COMMUNITY, The Story of Everything. I knew that this was a very important series since we were teaching the basics of what we believe, but I had no idea how well it would be received. It was amazing! Here are a couple comments that I just received via e-mail: “This series has answered questions that I have been asking for the past 25 years…” Here is another: “We just joined a small group and The Story of Everything has given us so much to share with each other. You guys have done a wonderful job in giving us explanation, meaning and insight to the Story and its Truth. Thank you.”
After finishing this series, here are some thoughts on how to teach doctrine:
- Doctrine should be taught as relational. One of the big mistakes we make is presenting doctrine as only a proposition or a statement. Doctrine comes from theology and at the core of good theology is a God who is in love with us -that’s relational.
- Doctrine should be taught as a narrative. We often present doctrine as an abstract statement that exists outside of time and history. Doctrine comes from good theology which is the re-telling of the love story between God and man.
- Doctrine should be interesting. When you present sound doctrine based on a theology that is relational and narrative people will engage. I remember a guy telling me when I did an internship, “it is a sin to make the Bible boring.” We had record attendance at COMMUNITY during this series.
- Doctrine makes for great discussion. During this series we also created a DVD curriculum for our small groups. We had record numbers of people in small groups during this series and I know in my small group we had some great discussions.
If you want to check out some of the online teaching here are the topics we covered straight from our statement of faith:
This past weekend we continued our series on Life’s Toughest Questions. We let the people of Community submit questions on our website and create the series. It has been a truly great series so far!
This week the question was, “What does God have to say about homosexuality?” That is a tough question. I don’t think it’s nearly as tough a theological question as it is a relationally tough question. The research amongst 16-29 year-olds who don’t go to church in the best-seller UnChristian concluded, “When you identify yourself as a Christian to a friend, neighbor, or business associate, you might as well have tattooed on your arm: anti-homosexual, gay-hater, homophobic.” That tells me that the church of Jesus has too often been theologically right and relationally wrong.
My biggest concern going into this weekend is that we would sound like we had all the answers but had no interest in trying to serve and love people who are a part of the gay and lesbian community. Over and over again in scripture and in the person of Jesus it is clear that God wants to be not just morally right or theologically right, but also relationally right. And if the church of Jesus wants to see God’s Dream accomplished on this planet we can no longer be theologically right and relationally wrong.
I’ve been fortunate enough to get to meet and even know a lot of the people that I really admire who are in the ministry. But one of the people I have never met and really admire is Tim Keller. I admire the church that he leads – Redeemer; I admire his commitment to church planting and I admire how smart he is! (And I plan on connecting with him at the Exponential Conference – don’t miss it!) I had a chance to meet him last week for dinner, but it was last minute and I already had stuff planned. Ugh! However, here is an interview with Tim in First Things where he talks about his new book (The Reason For God, which I just ordered and it is currently #18 on the New York Times bestseller list), C.S. Lewis, “seeker churches” and being a Presbyterian. Check it out.
If the world were a village of 100 people, 67 of those people would. not know the good news and grace of Jesus Christ. If the world were a village of 100 people, 20 of those people would live on less than a dollar a day. The mission of Jesus is to change all that!
In a previous generation we had the fight over whether the good news of Jesus was to “seek and save the lost” or to “to bring good news to the poor”. The answer is both. Those of us that want to see people become Christ Followers and go to Heaven forever do not have to be afraid of a “social gospel”. And those of us who want to be the hands and feet of Jesus to the least of these do not have to be afraid of only “saving souls.” Jesus had one mission and he came to do both!
The mission of Jesus is to reach the 67 and the 20. Two stats, one mission!
Over the last couple weeks I’ve been reading N.T. Wright’s Simply Christian a few pages at a time before I go to bed. It is outstanding. What surprised me is how his writing reminds me of CCC’s Dream of God. A few years ago our team wrote a narrative that describes what God dreams about. I realized that I’ve never posted it on my blog and I thought you might find it inspiring. Here is what we believe is the Dream of God:
God has a dream; it is a dream that He has had for all of eternity. It is the dream of a people whose hearts beat with a passion for “Helping People Find Their Way Back to Him.” Their presence enters the community as freshness; like the first fragrance of spring at the close of winter. The breath of new life; new beginnings and the promise of what’s to come fill the air. They bring a message of hope through Jesus Christ inspires of truth and joy. When they gather it is to experience and celebrate the mystery of their oneness in Jesus Christ. Together they are His body – the very physical presence of Christ on earth. They celebrate and embrace God’s eternal plan for the church to be the hope of the entire world. God has a dream.
God dreams of a people whose heart beat reverberates through neighborhoods, cities and countries stirring an awakening in hearts and souls. Christ followers, those close to God connect with those far from God in groups where the language of “we” replaces “me.” Inside these groups it’s safe to risk, to be vulnerable, and share life deeply. They are marked by a radical kind of faith, hope and love; the marks of Jesus Christ and His followers. Transformation takes place as groups empower us to more fully obey Christ together than alone. Neighborhoods become places where the word “lonely” doesn’t’t exist; where a smile replaces suspicion, security replaces fear, and Jesus is a holy name on lips. Community becomes a life changing experience, not simply a location. God has a dream.
God dreams of a people whose hearts beat with such compassion that no need goes unmet. The One who has freely given His life calls His own to give freely in return. These Christ followers hold all things loosely and love opens their hands. In this supernatural economy, the greatest return is in the giving and nothing is held back. Personal contribution becomes a path to obedience, fulfillment, unity and joy. The young invest in the aging and the aging contribute to shape the generations of the future. Generosity replaces self-centeredness as compassion calls us to take risks. With a contagious and passionate desire they contribute to the dream of God to meet the needs of all He loves. God has a dream…
Ever think to yourself, “I don’t have enough to give”? Hang with me and just keep reading…
The last couple weeks we have been challenging all of Community Christian Church to give above and beyond to our NEXT mission that we believe will allow us to reach the next 5,000 people. In the coming weeks we will all be making pledges to the NEXT mission. Sue and I have given more than a tithe to CCC for a long time and we also give to other causes. So when it came to the NEXT mission at times I’ve thought, “I don’t have enough to give.”
Then I get a letter and a photo from my friend Faustin (the guy on the right in the photo) who lives in Rwanda. Faustin, his wife Antoinette, their baby and Faustin’s three younger brothers all lived on less than $100/year. They are the poorest of the poor. It was through Global Family Rescue that we started financially supporting Faustin and his family with $59/month. The letter he sent me said thanks for visiting them this last summer, the gifts we brought them and thanks for how our support has transformed their life. But here is the kicker – Faustin wanted me to know that he took one of his baby goats and he gave it away to Eric (the guy on the left in the photo) who has even less than him. The photo is of Faustin, Eric and the goat that he gave away. Faustin is a follower of Jesus and said he did this because Jesus told us, “freely you have received, now freely give” (Matthew 10:18). So, while making more than 95% of the people on the planet (and so do you!) I’m thinking, “I don’t have enough to give”. But Faustin who is still living on far less than $1000/year is looking for ways to be more generous and give back. When I was in Rwanda Faustin taught me about contentment and now he is teaching me about generosity. I think I have enough. I’ve got more than enough. I have enough to give some away. I have enough to give lots away. How about you?
A couple fascinating articles in the August 28th edition of Time Magazine that I thought you might want to check out. The first article: The War For China’s Soul tells about the spread of Christianity in east and how the church is being persecuted. I have a friend who just got back from spending the summer in China and I’m anxious to see if the article is accurate to his experience. The other article is Allah’s Recruits and is about the spread of Islam in the west and in many cases as extreme Islam. If I assume that Time wasn’t just being politically correct by putting both articles in the same issue and that is it equally true that Islam is coming west and Christianity is going east; then how should the missional church of Jesus Christ respond? Strategies?
For the fifth year in a row CCC is hosting a site for the Leadership Summit. Every year the Willow Creek Association does the a great job of bringing in the best of the best on the topic of leadership. And one of the highlights of this year was an interview with Bono of U2. If I still have heroes I think Bono is one of them. I’ve seen U2 in concert three times and each time it was like a worship experience and Bono was the worship leader. He is absolutely the most engaging and charismatic performer I have ever seen. Crowds of thousands literally hang on his every word and gesture. It’s an amazing gift. Perhaps even more amazing than his concert performance was his interview with Bill Hybels that covered everything from celebrity to Jesus to Africa and more. The following are just a few of the quotes from the interview (I was typing as fast as I could so they are probably 95% accurate). If you saw the interview or are moved by any of the following I would love to hear your comments. I now give you Bono…
- “The most rewarding part of this past year? Selfishly, it is to wake up with a melody in my head and heart. But beyond my music it is the work we are doing with the ONE campaign.”
- “I never had a problem with Christ…it was Christians that gave me problems…they seemed completely disinterested culturally and politically…they seemed very strange to me.”
- “The world works on the principle of Karma; what you put out comes back to you…but then enters the story of grace in the person of Christ and it turned the world on it’s head.”
- “Duality is the mark of really great art and it’s what is missing in Christian art. It’s missing the tension that is missing…the attempt to wrestle truth to the ground is often absent.”
- “Much of gospel music seems fake to me…pretending that everything is o.k…I relate more to the blues…that sounds like the song of David to me.”
- “Jesus was either a Charles Manson – a nut case or he was who he said he was. I’m fascinated by a child born into straw poverty. The Christmas story is a remarkable story that never ceases to amaze me.”
- “How in a world of plenty can people be left to starve? We think, ‘it’s just the way of the world’. And if it is the ‘way of the world’ we must overthrow the ‘way of the world.'”
- “Redemption is an economic term.”
- “What else are you going to do with thing called ‘celebrity’…it’s absolutely ridiculous that it is valued more than being a teacher or more than being a mother…but it is currency and I decided that I was going to spend mine.”
- “God has made me an opportunist.”
- “Great ideas are like great melodies…they are memorable and a moral force whose time has come…and there is movement behind them.”
- “The reason the church has been slow to respond is that the church has historically always been behind the curve: civil rights, apartheid…the church is afraid of politics. The second reason the church has been so slow is less palatable..the church has been very judgmental about the AIDS virus…it believes that it is about people living irresponsibly. Only 6% of evangelicals felt like they were to act in response to the AIDS epidemic. But the Christ will not let the church walk away from the AIDS emergency…it is like a car crash, we have to act. AIDS is the leprosy of our age. But then something tragic happened…the church woke up and began to act…and they ruined it for me…I couldn’t hate the church anymore.”
- “Love your neighbor is not advice…it’s a command. Should an accident of longitude and latitude really decide whether you live or whether you die? There are 2003 verses in scripture about the poor, second only to personal salvation. Jesus speaks of judgment only once and that is the passage in Matthew where we are asked: ‘who clothed the naked?’ and ‘who fed the poor?’ and ‘who visited those in prison?’ That defines whether you are a part of the Kingdom or not.”
- “If the Christian church can lead this movement it can eradicate malaria in 10 years…and then AIDS.”
- “Stop asking God to bless what you are doing…find out what God is doing – it is already blessed!”
- “This generation could end stupid poverty…we really can fix that in our generation.”
- “‘Thy Kingdom come on earth as it is in heaven’ is a phrase that grabs me…in every detail of our lives we need to seek that.”
- “The world is more malleable than you think.”
- Bill has convinced me of the importance of the church as the moral force and practical infrastructure for solving the worlds problems. Open the doors of your church and make them an AIDS clinic. Your charity is important, but your passion for justice is needed. I’m asking for your voice and for you to give permission to fix these problems that are fixable. It’s not a burden, it’s an opportunity…it’s an adventure!”
I found this picture at Creating Passionate Users and thought , “what a great reminder to the church that it can be sooo risky playing it safe!” The guy in red was rock climbing (the risky thing) while his parked car (the safe thing) was demolished by a gigantic boulder. The temptation for churches to play it safe is oh so powerful, but in many circumstances, oh so dangerous.
Remember the Masters reaction in Matthew 25 to the servant who played it safe? Here it is: “The master was furious. ‘That’s a terrible way to live! It’s criminal to live cautiously like that! If you knew I was after the best, why did you do less than the least? The least you could have done would have been to invest the sum with the bankers, where at least I would have gotten a little interest. “‘Take the thousand and give it to the one who risked the most. And get rid of this “play-it-safe” who won’t go out on a limb. Throw him out into utter darkness.’