Sometimes, I simply have to share what's going on in our faith community @ Peace @ Monroe. Many of you know that Vicky and I have been a part of this community for over a year…it has been a challenging, exciting, relationally fulfilling and fun year. Along the way, the Spirit has brought us into a collaborative effort (a "wiki" experience) where we are discussing as a community about how the Spirit is leading us into our future as people who are following Jesus. This picture "summarizes" some of the simplicity of how we are envisioning our lives together…this picture gives you a glimpse of what our life and identity "look" like as we attempt to be faithful to the command of our Lord to "make disciples" (in addition to deepening our own sense of discipleship in our own lives). So, why do this? Just "airing it out"…giving you an opportunity to see, pray for, and encourage us along our path. This isn't necessarily original…you see, originality in a faith community's life (at least in terms of purpose and mission) is not necessarily called for…we attempt to be faithful to what Jesus has already spelled out. So, if you want to take a peek at how I'm defining the steps of faith and community life that we are attempting to live, the floor is open!
The “UP” Value – Communion/Worship/Believing/Love God – represents those things that help us connect with God – we would normally define this area of our life together as a faith community that encompasses those activities and practices that deepen devotional living, a passionate love of God, and provides the “fuel” (that being, that which feeds the heart and spirit of those who follow Jesus to live with and for Him on a day to day basis) of discipleship…for example, prayer, worship, the sacraments, scripture reading, biblical teaching and encouragement, all in a miraculous, Holy Spirit enabled environment that make up our communal connection to God and help us reinforce our identity in Christ and train and equip us for faithful and reproductive/redemptive living. This is the realm of the “attractional”, in other words, people in our community and throughout our lives are interested in how we as a faith community “do” this aspect of our lives together…it is the most public of what we “do” as a congregation of disciples of Jesus. This value holds dearly what our lives would that look like if we were to love our God with all our mind, heart, strength (relationship, is it deepening), transformation (how are you changing), responsiveness (are you listening).
The “Out” Value – Mission/Blessing/Go-being Sent/Make Disciples – this realm is the realm of blessing others in the name and love of Jesus. It is the “pure religion” that is defined in the words of James. We attempt to love others and serve others (and watching people’s lives transform), blessing people (the tangible touch of God – peace of God – shalom – on every part of your life). Most local churches/congregations do this INSTITUTIONALLY (overseas programs, for example, Haiti Mission, Papua New Guinea, Preschools, etc.) which has a tendency to excuse us as individual disciples from the personal where every disciple is on a mission (some mission is OK to be institutional – but the real question is, “how do we make mission personal for everyone?). When we hear the call of Jesus to “Love others” we challenge ourselves to ask what would that look like in real life (authenticity, respect, involvement, service) – living as Kingdom people in relationship with people locally and globally. This is a distinct OTHERNESS – and includes those aspects of our life together that focus on people outside of our faith community. This is also deliberate “disciple-making” process. When Jesus said to “go, and make disciples”, we ask through this value, “what would that look like?” How do we continue to discern in whom do you see God working; how do we engage them, invite them into relationship, establish them in discipleship and spiritual formation, and invite them to reproduce (to partner with the Holy Spirit in disciple-making).
The “In” Value – Inclusive community/Relationship/Disciple-making – Jesus was radical in hospitality and INCLUSIVITY and he empowered a movement that was known for its love and the power of community. In fact, the words, “see how they love each other” was uttered by outsiders (the New Testament says that in Antioch people saw a community that really acted like a real community, in loving, transformed relationships). This is a “John 13 reality” where Jesus says, “love one another as I have loved you.” This is a value that includes the purposes of building God-honoring community and relationships where Christ followers have the opportunity to encourage each other and challenge each other to grow to be all that Jesus calls each of us to be.
This is a deliberate “disciple-making” process. When Jesus said to “go, and make disciples”, we ask through this value, “what would that look like?” How do we continue to discern in whom do you see God working; how do we engage them, invite them into relationship, establish them in discipleship and spiritual formation, and invite them to reproduce (to partner with the Holy Spirit in disciple-making). This is the distinct TOGETHERNESS value – and it includes those things that we do together that shape our lives together – where we love other people, “do life” with other people, team with others to get involved in Body Life (see Romans 12, 1 Corinithians 12 and Ephesians 4).