it was great to see everyone tonight. i think that i can confidently say that i have never experienced anything like what i experienced tonight. it was just great to talk, connect, worship together, and begin this process of dreaming together. i want to spend a little time here just providing some additional thoughts and perspective to follow-up some of the streams of thought that we had tonight.
the first thing is to offer some context and pull together the last couple of weeks. hopefully every is sensing that God has been leading us down a path where we are becoming more intentional about getting “outside of the walls.” but what does that even mean? and why are we so committed to doing it? both are valid questions.
getting outside of the church walls does not simply mean that we begrudingly check off duties or tasks in the community just so we can say that we do it. nor does it mean that we smile and do something at easter and christmas and believe that…while it was good to do it…we have arrived. getting outside of the walls is much richer…and deeper. it involves extending ourselves…developing real and meaningful relationships with people…and naturally living the life of helping, serving, and supporting. it is not something that we do…but something we become.
but why are we so committed to becoming a group of fellow sojourners who are so committed to living this christian life outside of the walls of the church? there are many reasons. first…there is just tons of scriptural support for doing it. kwin referenced some of it tonight in the book of james. if you are interested in looking into more of those scriptures…contact rob taylor (jroberttaylor _at_ gmail dot com)…and he will be more than happy to help you and talk to you about it.
even outside of scripture…there is a very good cultural reason for reaching outside of the walls. george barna reports in his book Revolution (which is a great and eye-opening read…that i highly recommend) that church attendance is not growing…in fact…it is decreasing…especially in middle and younger generations. a natural conclusion that we have to draw is that if people are no longer going TO church….then the church has to go TO people. this part could be easily misapplied. the reality is that we live in a very cynical and skeptical culture. people have been burned too many times…many have experienced too many instances of overpromising and underdelivering. we have slick politicians. we have infomercials with products that look great…but never deliver. we have internet programs that offer you free software…but give you viruses. how can i trust a person…who i don’t even know…that wants to talk to me about his/her faith? with this perspective…we can see how critical it is to be more than just a salesman…or just a person without a name. it involves time, effort, and authenticity. it involves relationships…which leads to credibility.
as we talked about last week…how do we work backwards from Act 2:47…where the church enjoyed the “favor” or was “liked” by all the people? we do it by being WITH the people…being in their midst. sending money is not sufficient. jamming fliers in mailboxes can’t be the win. it is by being part of their lives. directionally…from a missions perspective…the [living] room will be focusing the majority of it’s resources (time, people, money) on reaching out locally. as we begin living it out locally and making a positive impact for the Kingdom here…our territory will increase. but…until we learn what it looks like to do it within the area that we live…how can we be responsible for more? it is critical that we build bridges within this community first and foremost.
ultimately…we do all these things…so there will be a restoration. not just with how people are treated…but with the spiritual restoration of people. our intention is to share our faith and our hope with everyone…and this will come naturally through the relationships that we build. God will work through our good deeds and our actions…through the excitement and joy we have by coming together…and through our dreaming to draw people to Him. this is exciting stuff…and something that i want to be a part of.
this is not a movement for the faint of heart. it is a movement of individuals who are seeking to find something that is liberating and all-consuming at the same time. this is a movement of individuals who are committed to loving people so much that the fear of moving forward is eclipsed by the eternal legacy of reaching people who have been written off by others. this is a movement of revolutionaries…who want to change the perception of what a Christ-follower looks like…what a Christ-follower aspires to do…and what a Christ-follower aspires to be!
let’s make it happen…