Balancing Fellowship And Mission

Balancing Fellowship and MissionI love the close, loving fellowship of my simple church. We take time to be together eating and laughing and sharing life. But this fellowship can create the danger of neglecting to reach out to those who are not part of the body of Christ. We can get so snug and comfortable that we forget the mission of Christ – redeeming and restoring that which is lost.

Each week the good folks over at House2House publish an article or story that is relevant to those involved in simple church. They recently posted Are we Eating with the Right People? Thoughts from 1 Corinthians 5 by Jon Zens. The article deals with what the author calls the “doctrine of ‘separation’” which he says seems to have been “translated into church practices which flatly contradict both the example of Jesus and the teaching of Paul in l Cor. 5:9-13.”

Let me try to summarize three ways Jon believes we miss the truth of balancing our lives between fellowship and mission:

  1. We miss the truth when we believe we should have nothing to do with unbelievers.
  2. We miss the truth when we seek to separate ourselves from the world and yet openly fellowship with deliberately sinful believers.
  3. We miss the truth when we condemn those outside the church building but do not go and to minister to them.

I agree with his points and summation that “we will not change this perverted image of the church until we become a compassionate people who will step out of our comfortable edifices and reach out to the needy.”

I want to suggest at least four ways we can balance our fellowship with believers with the mission of reaching out to those who need the very fellowship we claim:

What are some ways you and your small group, cell group or simple church practices living in proximity to those who need the Savior?

Grace and Peace,

Terry

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When You’re Smiling

God desires to fill his children with joy. But God’s joy is not simply the personal possession of individual believers. It is relational and something God gives us when we share life with him. He also desires that we share this joy with others.

Joy is one of the characteristics of the fruit of the Spirit listed in Galatians 5:22-23. It is that inner delight that is produced by God’s Spirit for our benefit but this fruit is also for others to eat.

Like smiles and laughter, joy is contagious.

In his book To Laugh Again, Chuck Swindoll writes,

“I know of no greater need today than the need for joy. Unexplainable, contagious joy. Our country seems to have lost its spirit of fun and laughter….” – Chuck Swindoll

It worries me a little that you might think that I believe possessing certain things will produce joy because of this video link to the advertisement for the new Apple iPhone 4G FaceTime. That is far from the truth, but I do believe that the ad captures and illustrates the contagiousness of joy.

Get your coffee ready and watch the video right now, then come back here, finish reading and let me know what you think.

Our joy will be incomplete and fleeting if we see it only as something to have for ourselves. Our joy will be full and lasting when we allow God’s Spirit to produce it as fruit so others can have a taste.

Has there been a time in your life when you were able to eat the fruit of joy produced by the Spirit in in the life of someone else? Why not share it with us?

Grace and Peace,

Terry

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Participating In What God Is Doing

One of the most important things I learned from Henry Blackaby’s Experiencing God is that God is always working and he invites me to join him. When I listen to the invitation and look to see where he is at work, it always creates a crisis of belief that will require faith and action on my part.

Eugene Peterson’s quote expresses the same truth:

The assumption of spirituality is that always God is doing something before I know it. So the task is not to get God to do something I think needs to be done, but to become aware of what God is doing so that I can respond to it and participate and take delight in it.” – Eugene Peterson

Where do you see God working in your life right now?

Will you respond to his invitation to join him?

Jesus said to them, “My Father is always at his work to this very day, and I, too, am working. . . I tell you the truth, the Son can do nothing by himself; he can do only what he sees his Father doing, because whatever the Father does the Son also does. For the Father loves the Son and shows him all he does. Yes, to your amazement he will show him even greater things than these. – John 5:17, 19-20

Grace and Peace,

Terry

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The Sending God

God’s Son Was A Missionary

Living With The Mission On Our Mind

We have many “missions” every day. We may set out on the mission of going to work to earn a living to sustain our family or going to the grocery store to replenish our food supply. Our mission might be a trip to the Doctor’s office seeking to restore our health. One of my missions, picking up my grandsons after school, is over for the summer but other missions will take its place.

I have come to see all these missions as the means to fulfill a greater mission. As I go about these daily routines they enable me to participate on the mission on which Christ has sent me. In The Tangible Kingdom Hugh Halter writes:

“When I walk into Starbucks, I don’t think about coffee. That’s predetermined . . . tall black Americano. I ponder the lives of everyone I see. I wonder about their spiritual journeys, their highs and lows . . . and where they look for direction in their search. My initial assumption is that in any room full of people, very few know Christ. I ask myself how I could get into their lives or how a conversation might begin. I don’t see them as projects — that wouldn’t go very far. I see them as souls the Lord loves who simply haven’t seen or heard an accurate message about the Kingdom. I always feel confident that I may one day be talking with them about life and God. Oddly enough, this seems to happen all the time.”

As you set out on your missions this week see them all under the umbrella of our great mission –

Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” – Matthew 28:18-20 NIV

Grace and Peace,

Terry

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Mission Trip To Asia and Back In One Day

Sandi Leading Orchestra

Our church met at the Dragon Boat, Kite, and Lantern Festival last Sunday. One of our members plays in a string orchestra. The director was in China and she was asked to direct a performance in the opening ceremonies. We decided to go and support her and experience the festival. It was like taking a mission trip to Asia and coming back the same day.

Some helped back stage while others simply watched the performance. Some took pictures and video to share with the director when he returns. We just dispersed in the crowd and mingled with the people attending the festival.

As we walked the festival grounds we would run into other members of the group from time to time and stop to visit. At one point several of us found ourselves sitting in the shade eating lunch from the street vendors.

The church chose to gather – not at some permanent place and at a set time – but at a place where we could do life together. We did this for several reasons:

  • to serve a fellow member of our local church
  • to serve the members of the orchestra
  • to build relationships with the orchestra and their families
  • to learn more about a culture that is all around us in which we can live the example of a Christ-like life style
  • to make some new friends
  • to be incarnational (be the body of Christ in the world)
  • to be missional (to be about the mission of Jesus in the world)

Who knows, we might go to October Fest this fall.

What are some ways and where are some places your church or small group can gather?

Grace and Peace,

Terry

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My Mother taught me a lot of the things I learned about living on mission with Jesus. Here are a few of the things she modeled for me while I was in High School:

  1. Serve others – If you drove by our house after our weekly high school football game you would see my uniform hanging on our cloths line to dry. But it would not be by itself. There would be two or three more next to it. You see, she would wash the uniforms of a couple of my friends to help their moms. Not only did she wash them, she scrubbed out the grass stains on white pants with a bar of soap.
  2. Eat with your friends – The guys (and sometimes the gals) ate at my house often. We ate a lot of chicken fried steak! She would feed us before our ball games, after our ball games, on Saturdays, on Sundays . . .
  3. Do life with others at your house – Our house was always open to others. If we were not hosting my friends, they were my brother’s or some group from the church. It seems like someone lived with us almost every summer.
  4. Notice the unnoticed – My mom was always doing things for the kids on the fringes, the ones who often went unnoticed. (see #1 above).

I could keep the list going but you get the picture. Mildred has reached the age of 80 and still teaches young children in Sunday School. She and Dad traveled 200 miles a few weekends ago to lead a lay renewal weekend. They will be involved in another next weekend – its more than 300 miles from their home.

Happy Mother’s Day, Mom!

The Sanders - Jerry, Alton, Millie, Terry - January 2010

Grace and Peace,

Terry