“God’s mission of drawing wanderers into his family always takes place in the midst of ordinary places and relationships. This can take just as much energy, finances, and careful planning as a trip across the ocean. In some ways it might be more uncomfortable than sleeping on a dirt floor and eating strange food. Our mission trip started the day we were born; it ends when God calls us home. Our mission with God plays out in how we walk, talk, eat, commute, party, pray, participate, communicate, spend money, make money, and invest our time wherever we are.”
‘Staying Is the New Going: Choosing to Love Where God Places You’ by Alan Briggs.
“The Church exists for nothing else but to draw men into Christ, to make them little Christs. If they are not doing that, all the cathedrals, clergy, missions, sermons, even the Bible itself, are simply a waste of time. God became Man for no other purpose. It is even doubtful, you know, whether the whole universe was created for any other purpose.”
(C.S.Lewis, Mere Christianity)
“There are those who seek knowledge for the sake of knowledge; That is curiosity. There are those who seek knowledge to be known by others; That is vanity. There are those who seek knowledge in order to serve; That is love.”
Bernard of Clairvaux (1090–1153)
(Something to read if you’ve been nominated to serve)
What does it mean to be called to ministry. When I was in high school, I felt called into the ministry. What that meant for me – and for most people I know – was that I was called to be an ‘ordained minister’ in the church. To be a ‘pastor’, to be ‘clergy’, to be a ‘minister of the word and sacraments’. I put all those words in quotes because I am uncomfortable with all of them now. I believe we have distorted the original meaning of these words. As a result many disciples are confused about their own calling as disciples. Are they called to ministry too, and how does their ministry relate to mine?
Let me begin by defining some terms. To be ‘ordained’ is to be appointed and anointed by God for a specific task in His kingdom mission. Although the church has restricted that term to a special class of workers (clergy), I see all disciples as equally ordained by God for their tasks, just different tasks. The tasks may differ, but the ordination by the Spirit is the same. Continue reading ‘Is God calling me?’ »
In most of the churches I have served there has been an Evangelism (or Outreach) Committee. This team of dedicated christians worked to help the church share the message of Jesus with their community. They did things like:
- buy tracts for members to share with their neighbours
- set up a booth at the local fair to hand out information and a free gift
- organized a community event (like a Fun Fair or BBQ)
- hosted ‘how to share your faith’ workshops or classes
- planned an annual ‘Bring a Friend’ Sunday
What struck me about these opportunities was that for the most part it was always the same people participating: those who were serving on the team, and those who already had a heart for sharing their faith. In addition, the numbers were usually small, the results difficult to measure, and the team was usually frustrated that no one else came out to help.
I would like to consider the possibility that a church should not have an Evangelism Committee. As I see it, I wonder if having such a committee actually works against mobilizing christians for sharing their faith. Continue reading ‘No evangelism committee needed!?’ »
“We are discipling people every day in our work—as we treat a customer with respect, help out a coworker with his or tasks, respect the boss even when others grumble behind his back, seek justice in the way we do our business, make the workplace a more peaceful place to be, offer to go the extra mile to get the work done and done right, etc. How are you making disciples by the way you do your work?” (Alan Hirsch)
In Robert Banks’s groundbreaking book, Redeeming the Routines, he identifies the enormous gap between belief and everyday life. He points out that this gap shows up in ten worrying ways:
- Few of us apply or know how to apply our belief to our work, or lack of work.
- We only make minimal connections between our faith and our spare time activities.
- We have little sense of a Christian approach to regular activities like domestic chores.
- Our everyday attitudes are partly shaped by the dominant values of our society.
- Many of our spiritual difficulties stem from the daily pressure we experience (lack of time, exhaustion, family pressures, etc.).
- Our everyday concerns receive little attention in the church.
- Only occasionally do professional theologians address routine activities.
- When addressed, everyday issues tend to be approached too theoretically.
- Only a minority of Christians read religious books or attend theological courses.
- Most churchgoers reject the idea of a gap between their beliefs and their ways of life.
“At that time Mary got ready and hurried to a town in the hill country of Judea, where she entered Zechariah’s home and greeted Elizabeth. When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the baby leaped in her womb, and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit. In a loud voice she exclaimed: ‘Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the child you will bear! But why am I so favored, that the mother of my Lord should come to me? As soon as the sound of your greeting reached my ears, the baby in my womb leaped for joy. Blessed is she who has believed that the Lord would fulfill his promises to her!'” (Luke 1:39-45)
When I grew up in church, I was taught that God was the starting point of the worship. Our gatherings began with God’s invitation (call to worship) to which we responded with silent prayer. God announced His blessing to which we responded with an AMEN and a praise song. The rest of the service went on like that: God speaks, we respond.
This pattern is, I believe, rooted in both creation and in our own DNA. This world, and humans, were designed to respond to God’s gracious self-disclosure. As we experience God’s greatness or goodness, that experience provokes a response within us: wow, thank You, awesome, yikes, oh my, etc. Continue reading ‘Worship starts with God’ »
“For I was hungry and you gave me nothing to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink, I was a stranger and you did not invite me in, I needed clothes and you did not clothe me, I was sick and in prison and you did not look after me.’
“They also will answer, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or needing clothes or sick or in prison, and did not help you?’
“He will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.’ (Matthew 25:42-45)