St. Irenaeus said, “The glory of God is a human being fully alive.” Be that. Be fully alive. And help the people around you to be fully alive, too… The goal isn’t to get people to go to church. The goal is to get the Gospel out to the world. (via)
Live as close to Jesus as you can. Constantly preach the gospel to yourself. Walk closely with a “gospel posse”. Risk or rust for the rest of your life. Love one spouse well the rest of your life. Never be surprised to discover how broken the bride of Jesus is; how immature and selfish you can be; or how much God loves you in Jesus. Ache for heaven and serve in this moment. (VIA)
Ultimately each church will be evaluated by only one thing. Its disciples. Your church is only as good as its disciples. It does not matter how good your praise, preaching, programs or property are: If your disciples are passive, needy, consumerist, and not moving in the direction of radical obedience, your church is not good.
— Neil Cole
We find missio Dei in Scripture: God the Father sends the Son and the Spirit into the world, and the Father, Son, and Spirit send the church into the world for the sake of the world. In other words, mission does not originate with the church but is derived from the very nature of God. As Jurgen Moltmann has said, “It is not the church that has a mission of salvation to fulfill the world; it is the mission of the Son and the Spirit through the Father that includes the church”
When we read the Scriptures, we learn that it is God’s mission to set things right in a broken and messed-up world. God’s mission is to redeem the world and restore it to its intended purpose. The church exists to fulfill God’s mission, and when we participate in God’s mission we become living signs of God’s intended future for the world, bringing glory to God. In other words, mission exists because God is a missionary God. And “a church which is not on mission is either not yet or no longer the church, or only a dead church–itself in need of renewal”
(Woodward, Creating a Missional Culture, 27-28)
“Earth’s crammed with heaven, and every common bush afire with God. But only he who sees takes off his shoes;” — Elizabeth Barrett Browning
Leslie Newbigin wrote:
The question that has to be put to every local congregation is the question whether it is a credible sign of God’s reign of justice and mercy over the whole life, whether it is an open fellowship whose concerns are as wide as the concerns of humanity, whether it cares for its neighbors in a way which reflects and springs out of God’s care for them, whether its common life is recognizable as a foretaste of the blessing that God intends for the whole human family.**
I read that yesterday from JR Woodward’s introduction to his Creating a Missional Culture. That’s the first book assigned in the Doctor of Ministry program of St. Paul School of Theology in Kansas City that I’ll begin in January. It is also indicative of why it is that I’m entering this program…at a time of great transition for our family as we move to Seward, Alaska…at a time of great transition for both the church I leave in Girdwood after 12 years and the churches I’ll be headed to in Seward and Moose Pass.
This is a big step. This is not something I’ve entered into lightly. It’s something I’ve been considering for many years and with greater intensity for 4-5 years. But, during this time, I found my commitments to itineration (visiting churches, soliciting support) and General and Jurisdictional commitments would have meant far too many weeks away from the people of Girdwood and my family. And, because there has been a change in the program, moving from a community-based “cohort” system to one of more individual study, I struggled with whether or not I still wanted to make a three-year commitment. It’s not everything that got me pumped about the program in the first place.
A few missional quotes that floated my boat, from a post by Len Hjalmarson, DMin over at NextReformation:
If we are in sub-mission to Jesus, we will get per-mission to go on co-mission with him. (Quoted from James Ryle)
[N]othing has changed since Abraham. We are blessed to be a blessing. The Church is an organization that exists for the sake of its non-members. In this we reflect the very inner life of the God who is a loving community, and who overflows with love into the world. God is on a mission, as David Bosch wrote: “It is not the Church of God that has a mission in the world; it is the God of mission who has a Church in the world.”
“A problematic legacy of Christendom is the separation between ‘mission’ and ‘community.’ Sustained efforts by many denominations and local churches to reunite these estranged partners, using the language of ‘ missionary congregations,’ ‘mission-shaped church,’ ‘missional church,’ or several other phrases, have been only partially effective. The division between mission and community is deep-rooted, institutionally entrenched, and resilient to change. For many church members, mission is an activity necessary in other places.”
– Stuart Murray in The Naked Anabaptist, page 98,99.
There is a great difference between successfulness and fruitfulness. Success comes from strength, control, and respectability. A successful person has the energy to create something, to keep control over its development, and to make it available in large quantities. Success brings many rewards and often fame. Fruits, however, come from weakness and vulnerability. And fruits are unique. A child is the fruit conceived in vulnerability, community is the fruit born through shared brokenness, and intimacy is the fruit that grows through touching one another’s wounds. Let’s remind one another that what brings us true joy is not successfulness but fruitfulness.
–Henri J.M. Nouwen