Live Sent: An Awareness

livesentIn the first two parts of this series I introduced you to the thought of living Sent. Jesus sent His Son into the world for a specific reason: to make the Father known and to show us how to know Him. Sent people are sensitive people. As we go about our daily business as spokesmen for the King and messengers of the gospel, it is important we take time to look around and see what is happening around us. Two areas deserve our sensitivity. 

1. The Condition of People.

When it comes to seeing the condition of people and responding correctly, Jesus is our model. We see an example in Matthew’s gospel:

Jesus went about all the cities and villages, teaching in their synagogues, preaching the gospel of the kingdom, and healing every sickness and every disease among the people. 36 But when He saw the multitudes, He was moved with compassion for them, because they were weary and scattered, like sheep having no shepherd (Matthew 9:35-36)

We see how Jesus viewed people in His day. Matthew used words and phrases such as “weary”, “scattered”, and “without a shepherd” to describe them. As we push through our daily lives we need to be sensitive to the condition of the people with whom we share parts of our days. We need to be sensitive to the fact that, although things may look good on the surface, inside people are hurting, lonely, scared, and hopeless. We need to be sensitive to the fact that nearly three out of four people in North America are lost without Christ.

Being sensitive to other people may at times require us to enter their world. Again, Jesus is our model. He was not afraid to associate with those with complicated and messy lives. The hurting need to be seen, and when seen, cared for. Jesus did not give His life for a building, a denomination, nor a program. He gave His life for people. Shouldn’t we look at others with the same sensitivity?

2. The Movement of God.

I believe we have become slaves to a routine. I believe we have become prisoners to a programmed life. I believe we have become captive to our calendars. I believe we try to subconsciously schedule the movement of God in a way that suits us. I wonder if God Himself has our permission to shake up, rearrange, and stir our lives? I think about the apostle Paul’s sensitivity to the Holy Spirit’s reordering of his personal plans:

7 After they had come to Mysia, they tried to go into Bithynia, but the Spirit did not permit them. 8 So passing by Mysia, they came down to Troas. 9 And a vision appeared to Paul in the night. A man of Macedonia stood and pleaded with him, saying, “Come over to Macedonia and help us (Acts 16:7-9).

What now?

  1. Pray for a brokenness over the condition of those in our communities that are hurting.
  2. Intentionally come along side someone you know who is hurting and be a friend.
  3. Ensure your plans are not set in stone. Allow the Holy Spirit permission to move you.

Live Sent: An Introduction

livesent

We are all given one life to lo live. Along with that life come certain unwritten rules. First, there are no do-overs. Life is not a game of golf. There is no such thing as a mulligan. We do not have the luxury of going back to the beginning to start over. Second, there are no extras. Life is not a video game where you earn extra life based on performance. Third, there are no extensions. It was Job who, speaking of man, said, “His days are determined, the number of his months is with You; You have appointed his limits so that he cannot pass.” Lastly, there are no substitutions. Life is not a game of football where other players can play in the place of another. You cannot live for another and they cannot live for you. With these rules clearly in view, how we live the one life we have been given is of the utmost importance.

The way a person lives their life is a personal choice. A life can be lived cautiously or recklessly. It can be lived productively or destructively. I can be lived privately or publicly. Are there guidelines in place to govern how to live this one life? Absolutely. Exhortation exists for the Christian to remember their Creator, to allow God to direct their paths, to find rest in the Good Shepherd, to seek the good and welfare of others before yourself, to forgive as we have been forgiven, and to trust in the fact that through Jesus Christ it is possible to live a life that is pleasing to God.

I believe an often-overlooked directive for a Christian’s life is found in the Jesus’ High Priestly Prayer of John seventeen. Here that we see Jesus praying to His Father for the world to know Him through His life. As He prays to His Father, He also speaks of how He envisions each follower should live out their non-extendable, non-repeatable, and non-transferable life. His words of verse eighteen are simple yet powerful, “As You sent Me into the world, I also have sent them into the world.” This verse highlights the believer’s mission to this world: Live Sent. This week we will examine what it means to live sent.

Missional Monday: The Wisdom of Considering Your Community’s Calendar

mmCalendars reflect priorities. They reflect what an individual or an organization chooses to do with its time – a precious commodity. Most churches have a master calendar that contains all ministry events, facility reservations, service times, and ongoing ministries to its membership and others. Churches have leadership groups whose responsibility it is to coordinate these activities. An important task in planning is to ensure as little overlap as possible. The last thing a church needs is to schedule multiple ministry opportunities on the same day that cause the people to have to choose. There is another calendar, a calendar often overlooked by churches – the community calendar. Local communities have a calendar that lists events, news, festivals, and other functions unique to them. Town and city councils publish these calendars far enough ahead to the ensure the residents can participate.

Why does this matter? For far too long the church and its community have been content to exist and function as if they have no need for each other. This is simply not true. If a church believes their community matters, the two should work together as often as possible. The church needs the community. The community is the place and the people into which God has planted the church as agents of light and ministers of grace. God has called His people to their community to flavor and influence it positively with the good news of the gospel. The community needs the church. Whether they acknowledge it or not does not negate the truth. The community needs the influence and care the local church offers. The community needs the church to serve it and make a difference.

Please hear me closely. I am not advocating allowing the secular community to determine the actions and direction of the church. I do not believe that would be wise. I am certain the community would not allow the church to determine its activities and direction. Does the church have a responsibility to be involved in the life of their local community? Absolutely. Can both parties benefit when this happens? No doubt.

I have given a great deal of thought to this and the what I have found has shaped my ministry philosophy. When planning ministry opportunities, the church should consider what is happening in the community at that time. The purpose is to determine the possibility of the church’s involvement. When there are special events in the community, the church would do well to seek ways to involve itself. As the church involves itself in the everyday life of the community, trust is built and relationships are formed.

The goal for the church as it relates to the community is to be an agent of change and hope through the message of the gospel of Christ. When the community sees the church cares about the people and their future with no strings attached, credibility is earned. Must the community acknowledge the church for the church to be credible? Of course not. Jesus Christ established the New Testament Church and needs no secular approval. However, the old saying is true here, “Nobody cares how much you know until they know how much you care.” Credibility is a bridge by which the gospel travels. Consistent involvement is necessary if we hope to make a difference and a lasting mark on the community where the church has been planted. Why compete when we can cooperate?

 

Missional Monday: Missional Voices

mmI hope this collection of thinkers and ministries will further challenge you to live an on-mission lifestyle. Enjoy.

Read:  I recommend The Hole in Our Gospel; What Does God Expect of Us? by Richard Stearns, president of World Vision. It is the true story of a corporate CEO who gave up worldly success for something far more satisfying. God’s calling on his life removed him from his corner office at one America’s most prestigious companies and allowed him to walk with the poorest of the poor in our world. His journey demonstrates how the gospel – the whole gospel – was meant to change lives and make people whole in Christ.

Follow:  Tim Rice. Tim is the Missions Mobilization Director for the South Carolina Baptist Convention. He is passionate about assisting individuals and churches to live missionally and engage their communities, state, and the nations with the gospel of Jesus Christ. I know Tim personally and you will be both encouraged and challenged by what he shares with others. You can find him at @timricesc

Get to Know: The Sunshine Girls – a weekly outreach ministry to women who work in the Adult Entertainment Industry in Savannah, Georgia. Their goal is to shine the life-changing light of the Gospel into these dark places. The mission of the organization revolves around establishing relationships and opportunities for another way of life. You can learn more about them here. Pray for the work these women are doing in some very hard and dark places. I am thankful to know one of these Sunshine Girls personally.

Missional Monday: Missional Voices

mmI am thankful for the many voices, resources, institutions, and ministries who are assisting the local church to live out a missional lifestyle. The purpose of Missional Monday is to raise awareness and foster conversations (whether here or elsewhere) around the need for the New Testament churches to be missionaries where they are. I regularly share my own thoughts about this subject, but mine is not the only one. Because we are involved in kingdom work, I want to connect the readers here to others who are speaking on the subject of missional living. I hope this collection of thinkers and ministries will further challenge you to live mission lifestyles. Enjoy.

Read:  I recommend Tradecraft: For the Church on Mission by Larry E. McCrary. As God calls missionaries to the field, they develop the necessary skill-sets for a cultural translation of the Gospel. Tradecraft pulls back the curtain on tools once accessible only to full-time Christian workers – tools that will enable the local church to be more effective in its ministry to the community.

Follow:  Henry Criss. Henry is the Lead Pastor of Ridgeland Baptist Church in Ridgeland, SC.  His approach to the revitalization work he has been called to is encouraging and insightful. You can follow him here – @HenryCriss.

Get to Know: Pure Water, Pure Love. PWPL is an initiative of the National Women’s Missionary Union, an auxiliary of the Southern Baptist Convention. The primary goal of PWPL is to provide missionaries with water filters and the people they serve with wells that offer clean water, free of disease and contamination. PWPL provides thousands of water filters to missionary families and helps fund clean water projects. You can read more here.

Missional Monday : Go Fish Clothing and Jewelry Co.

A few weeks ago, Terri and I were shopping along the waterfront area of downtown Beaufort. While walking along Bay Street, we happened across as a little storefront, Go Fish® Clothing and Jewelry. The name captured my attention and we went inside. We noticed there were many kinds of handmade items from artisans all around world, including hand-crafted wooden animals, blown glass figurines, hand-made clothing, and all types of jewelry. Alongside each display was a portrait of the family who had made the product, as well as a description of the country in which the family lives. Go Fish® purchases the items that are sold in stores from the indigenous peoples of developing nations. The prices that are paid for the items are never argued. Merchandise is bought at the family’s asking price. The mission of Go Fish® is to give the indigenous people dignity and respect by highlighting their creativity and skill, while providing a sustainable livelihood for the family. I found it refreshing that amid stores selling everything from swimsuits to real estate, a company living out its missional calling exists. You can read more about Go Fish® and their work here.

Missional Monday : What Others Are Saying

mmI am thankful for the many voices, resources, institutions, and ministries which are actively assisting the church and her people today to out a missional lifestyle. As our communities, cities, states, and nation evolve before our very eyes, it becomes more critical every day that the local church be the missionary for the gospel in their field. I hope this collection of thinkers and ministries will further challenge you to live mission lifestyles.

Read: Missional Moves by Rob Wegner and Jack Magruder. This book describes fifteen “shifts” that have the capacity to alter our understanding of the church and how its mission is carried out in the world.

Follow: Dr. Thom Rainer. Dr. Rainer is the president of Lifeway Christian Resources. He is the author of the books Simple Church, The Unchurched Next Door, I Am a Church Member, and Autopsy of a Deceased Church among many others. Dr. Rainer consistently publishes articles and blog posts that deal with church, pastoral, and ministry related issues. He is the consummate encourager. You can read his work here or give him a follow on Twitter – @ThomRainer

Meet: Heifer International. Their purpose is to “empower families to turn hunger and poverty into hope and prosperity”. Heifer brings sustainable agriculture and commerce to communities with a long history of poverty. This happens through the provision of farm animals that provide both food and reliable income in the form of agricultural products such as milk, eggs and honey that can be traded or sold at market. Families in turn pass on farm animals to other communities who have similar need. This sustainable income brings opportunities for building school and funding small businesses. You can find them here or give them a follow on Twitter – @Heifer

FYI: Statistics speak loudly.

According to the American Psychological Association, the top five ways in which teens today deal with stress are: play video games (46%), social media (43%), exercise (37%), watch TV (36%), and play sports (28%). What’s missing?

According to LifeWay Research, 46% of Americans say their religious beliefs impact their daily work.

According to Barna Research, 79% of practicing Christians say they want to know how their faith speaks to current issues they face.

According to LifeWay Research, 59% of churchgoers attend some type of small group Bible study at least once.