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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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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Have A Sandwich And Listen

About a month ago I stopped to eat at a local restaurant I had never been to before. The accent of my server was one that was unfamiliar to me so I simply asked the nation of his origin. He came from a country about which I know very little. In the matter of a minute or two I learned a few things about his situation. We exchanged names and I went on my way.

Yesterday we were able to speak again.

It was about 1:30 p.m. and I had missed lunch. I was driving by the restaurant and heard the Spirit of God prompting me to stop. Once again, he was my server. I ordered something light to eat and looked for opportunities to continue our conversation from a month before. I called him by name and he shared that although he served many people he remembered my previous visit.

One of the great things about this encounter is that the restaurant was almost empty. He was able to linger around my table and talk. I mostly asked questions and kept the focus on his life. In the matter of a few minutes I learned about his journey to this country, his wife, and 6 month old child. As I listened I also discerned that he was a little lonely.

When he went to get my check, I wondered what type of friends he had made.  Is his wife lonely, too? Does he have a relationship with Jesus?

When he returned I asked a final question.

I said, “I don’t know much about your native land. I was wondering if we could have coffee sometime and you could tell me about your culture?” Smiling from ear to ear he replied that he would love to have coffee with me. He even extended an invitation to his home. Before I could ask, he wrote his phone number for me. It’s on my desk in front of me right now.

I look forward to seeing him again and the possibility of forming a new friendship. I also get to learn a little about a place far, far away.

Let me challenge you to be aware of those around you today. Take a little time and listen. Ask a few questions. I have found that most people will engage you in conversation if you ask a few simple questions. You just might make a new friend and get to drink some coffee.

Grace and Peace,

Terry

Everyday Interactions

Everyday ShoppingIn his book Why Christians Sin, J.K. Johnson says “Christ met unbelievers where they were” and gives the following contact count . . .

  • 4 stories of Jesus engaging with people in the synagogues
  • 6 stories of Jesus encountering people in the temple
  • 122 stories of Jesus interacting with people in the everyday activities of life

Any insights?

Grace and Peace,
Terry

Book ClubHere’s an idea a young woman in our church shared with us. Actually, it was more than an idea – it was something she did to get better acquainted with a friend. She was in the bookstore shopping for a book to read so she could participate in an online book club. Finding the selected text she purchased not one copy but two. One for her and the other for her friend.

She is a stay at home mom and was looking for a way to reach out beyond her four walls. Some old friends are part of the book club and it it looked like a great way to stay in touch.

Occasionally, her path crosses that of this other young mother. She has been praying and looking for ways to build and strengthen a relationship with her.

She does not know if her friend will join the book club or not. If they both join the club, they will be able to share online and over coffee from time to time. It will also provide contact with other members of the body of Christ. If her friend does not join the club, she hopes they will be able to meet weekly for their own reading group. Either way, she gets to give her friend a gift.

Grace and Peace,
Terry

Join the conversation: What are you reading right now? Is there someone you could ask to join you in conversation over the text?

Look Up In That Tree

If we are going to practice the habit of leaving and live every day with the reminder that Jesus sends us on his mission we need know some things about that mission.

On the way to the cross Jesus stopped in the town of Jericho and looked up in a tree. There he saw a tax collector named Zacchaeus whom he invited down to dinner. That encounter transformed the life of that little man. At the conclusion of this story Luke records these words of Jesus regarding his mission:

Jesus said to Zacchaeus, “Today you and your family have been saved, because you are a true son of Abraham. The Son of Man came to look for and to save people who are lost.” – Luke 19:9-10 CEV

One element of the mission of Jesus was looking for people who were not in fellowship with God and with other people. He desires to reconcile people to himself and to one another. To be on mission with Jesus means that we join him on this quest. We must travel on and look around.

Ask yourself a few questions about your mission of looking…

  • Who do I need to look for?
  • Where am I going to meet them?
  • Do I need to stop doing some things so I can look for them?
  • Do I need to start doing some things so I can look for them?
  • Am I part of a relational community which can help me look?

Grace and Peace,
Terry

Join the Conversation: What keeps us from living this mission of seeking and looking?