“Triangle. Square. Arrow.” Three shapes metaphorically shaping our lives. A poem I wrote this last weekend.

Triangle. Square. Arrow.

Father and Son and Spirit in unity and love together.
Love can’t be held in a box.
Love is compelled to give love.

Time. Space. Earth.
Garden. Man. Woman. God.
Love sends beloved to enjoys what’s been made.

Man. Woman. Choice.
Serpent. Tree of life. Tree of more. Woman decides.
Love mercifully sends away selfishness to die.

Covenant. Geography. People.
Multiply. Bless. Tree of more again. Divide.
Love graciously sends then restores.

Legalism. Licentiousness. Emmanuel.
Rome. Jews. Authority. Disturbance.
Love selflessly buries selfishness then rises.

Live for self. Live for God. Live WITH GOD.
Believing. Confessing. Depending. Restored.
Love, as Sent One, now sends beloved.

Listen. Learn. Love.
One Christ. One mission. One church. One another.
Love given together to neighbors and nations.

Groom. Bride. Wedding.
No more evil. No more tears. No more death. Hope no more.
Love welcomes beloved as intended, fully restored.

The Gospel is not some concept to believe. It is the proper lens through which to see yourself and others as God does.

As the WestpointChurch.org 2013 SENT life emphasis continues, the equipping focus for this month is NEIGHBORING. The Sunday teaching series is entitled “God became neighbor.” This past Sunday morning, we spent time in John 4. Each week, I close the teaching with “the bottom line.” Here it is from March 10th:

THE BOTTOM LINE:
The Gospel is not some concept to believe. It is the proper lens through which to see yourself and others as God does. It is the moving news of God changing locations, coming near, compelling us to take initiative to go near. God’s commands are not overbearing rules that when kept earn God’s love. They are rather eye-opening pathways down which we walk with Jesus in order to experience God’s love. And worship is not some emotional event defined by geography and circumstance. Rather, it is a breath-by-breath, relational response to the God who stepped into the geography He made to resurrect life from our consequentially deadly circumstances, transformationally declaring once and for all the Truth of His love.

When we believe this Good News, and over time as His Spirit grows us in understanding how this Gospel is embodied in our daily relationships (which is wisdom, by the way), then we realize how neighborly God has been with us and are gratefully and graciously compelled to go be neighborly with each other as well as to others.

So grateful to be reminded of the mysterious, beautiful, compelling news that God came near taking up residence among us. We are loved. His presence is our good.

-jason

Help “do good farm” get started as they hope for their first harvest this spring. Here are some upcoming work days…

Have you heard of “Do Good Farm” yet? It is a new hydroponic farm concept in the Winter Garden area led by Josh Taylor, the general manager of House Blend Cafe. The purpose is to learn how to create a sustainable food source for the hungry while providing fresh fruits and vegetables for folks here in our community as well as a few partnering organizations in impoverished communities around the world.

Josh is hoping for their first harvest this coming spring, and he could use our help. Can you come help dig and build and plant over the next four weeks? People can come work any window within the following time frames or all of that day.

Here are some dates for work days at the farm:

:: Thursday | Jan 17th | 9a-5p
:: Tuesday | Jan 22nd | 9a-5p
:: Thursday | Jan 24th | 9a-5p
:: Saturday | Jan 26th | 9a-1p
:: Tuesday | Jan 29th | 9a-5p
:: Wednesday | Jan 30th | 4p-7p
:: Thursday | Jan 31st | 9a-5p
:: Saturday | Feb 2nd | 9a-1p
:: Tuesday | Feb 5th | 9a-5p
:: Thursday | Feb 7th | 9a-5p
:: Saturday | Feb 9th | 9a-1p

Contact JoshT@HouseBlendCafe.com with questions or interest in volunteering.

So grateful for Josh and his wife and their willingness to lead out in this very important endeavor. And grateful to get to be the church together.

Here is a short video Josh put together introducing the concept:

A few thoughts and a prayer as my heart aches for the families of Newtown, CT…

Yesterday I had the blessing of being with my family on one of our little one’s – Ella’s – fourth birthday. With the events of today in CT, I was once again reminded not to have any regrets for missing work to be with family.

My heart has been aching since I heard the news of 20 children and 8 adults whose lives were lost in a small New England town this morning. Tragic is an understatement. Everyone has been taken off guard. It was at an elementary school. An elementary school!!!

I’ve struggled through anger and tears this afternoon. I cannot imagine, as my sister-in-law articulated on Facebook, how those family members will feel tonight as they sit around their living room looking at presents under a Christmas tree (or hidden in a closet) marked for their child who did not come home today from school.

This is yet another reminder of the death present in our world and the importance of our mission as followers of Jesus to live sent with His presence. Leaders, including today, cry out again that these things happen because “they keep God out of our school.” What bologna! God won’t be out of our schools until someone removes the Holy Spirit from those who follow Him as they go there!

We are not asked by God to legislate righteousness. We are not persuading and proselytizing for an alternative religion here. We have been loved by the God who came near compelling us to go near with His love to those who have yet to believe beyond the death and selfishness of the here and now. Our mission is not so trite as only to be about moralism in school or making a better culture. It has all to do with displaying the message of resurrection life so that hope can be found and dead can be made new again.

As Peterson so eloquently and appropriately wrote:

The church is a colony of resurrection in the country of death.

Jesus. You wept over the effect of death. Thank You, as the One who made us, for having a heart of grace for us when we, as the ones who were made, chose to eat of the tree that opened our minds and hearts to all we could know about what we are so beautifully as well as horrifically capable of. Thank You for resurrection. Thank You for hope. Amen.

“The Art of Neighboring” – a post by Tim @Challies, re-posted with permission

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The Art of Neighboring
by Tim Challies
(re-posted with permission)

Take a look at the graphic above. Imagine that the middle box in the chart is your house and the boxes that surround it are the eight houses closest to your own. I doubt your neighborhood is arranged like a tic-tac-toe board, so you may need to use your imagination just a little bit.

Here’s what I want you to do.

First, write the names of the people who live in the house represented by each of the boxes. If you can give both first and last names, that’s great. If you’ve only got first names, that’s okay too.
Second, write down some information or facts about each of the people in that house. I don’t mean facts that you could observe by standing on the road and looking at their house (“Drives a red car”) but facts that you’ve gathered from speaking to them (“Works for a bank,” “Grew up across town.”).
Third, write down any in-depth information you know about each of the people. This could include details like their career plans or religious beliefs—the kind of information that comes from real conversation.
How did you do? Or how do you think you would do if you actually went through with this exercise? The degree to which you simply do not know your neighbors is the degree to which you will benefit from reading The Art of Neighboring by Jay Pathak and Dave Runyon. They premise their book upon this simple question: When Jesus told us love our neighbors, what if he meant our actual neighbors, the people who live closest to us? They explain that Christians have long been making “neighbor” into a safe metaphor that allows us to believe we are carrying out the Lord’s command when we visit soup kitchens and do acts of kindness to complete strangers.

The problem, as they explain it, is that “when we aim for everything, we hit nothing. So when we insist we’re neighbors with everybody, often we end up being neighbors with nobody.” Ouch. Much like the Pharisees, we ask “Who is my neighbor?” in the hope of finding a loophole, not in the hope of loving those who live nearby. “Jesus assumed that his audience would be able to love those nearest to them, their literal neighbors, the people most like them, who shared the same heritage and geography. In telling the parable, Jesus was stretching their concept of neighbor to include even people from a group they didn’t like.” As we read the parable today we tend to go straight to the stranger on the side of the road and no longer include the person in the house next door.

This book is full of biblical counsel and simple wisdom about how to be a good neighbor. Perhaps the most freeing concept is that there is inherent value in being a good neighbor, even if your neighbor never becomes a Christian. The authors helpfully distinguish between ultimate motives and ulterior motives. The ultimate motive in engaging your neighbors is to share the gospel with them and to see them turn to the Lord, but we must never do this through ulterior motives. Too many Christians use engaging their neighbors as a thinly-veiled guise to try to “win them,” and give up when the neighbors do not respond positively. Pathak and Runyon say, “The ‘agenda’ we need to drop is the well-meaning tendency to be friends with people for the sole purpose of converting them to our faith. Many so desperately want to move people forward spiritually that they push them according to their timetable, not according to how God is working in them. It’s tempting to offer friendship with strings attached.”

They clarify: “Sharing the story of Jesus and his impact on our lives is the right motive, but it canot be an ulterior motive in developing relationships. We don’t love our neighbors to convert them; we love our neighbors because we are converted.” Christians have long been taught that we should do good things solely to have a spiritual conversation that can move people toward conversion; but Jesus never called us to use a bait-and-switch approach where we are friends only so we can share the gospel. “We are called to love our neighbors unconditionally, without expecting anything in return.”

The Art of Neighboring clearly comes from a little bit outside the theological “tribe” that I identify with, and that brings both benefits and drawbacks. The book is not without its weaknesses. I would have liked to see the authors wrestle a bit more with issues related to sharing the gospel and creative ways of doing that. I would have liked to see them focus more on the role of the local church in the life of the Christian. But those weaknesses are more than compensated for with their call to be good neighbors and the challenge they offer.

This is a book I learned from, a book that was of immediate benefit to me, and, I think, exactly the book I needed to read. We live in a closely-packed neighborhood where we know and are known (at last count at least four of our neighbors have a key to our house!) but I needed to be freed to simply love my neighbors, to be a good neighbor to them, without feeling guilt for not always offering gospel sneak-attacks where I work it into every conversation. There is value in being a good neighbor and as we neighbor well, we trust that very natural gospel opportunities will arise.

Christian – what is the essential message we have to share? Are we really sharing it? Please consider this…

Last night I had the privilege of hanging out with a group of Central Florida Spanish pastors. Our language barrier was less impeding than I expected it to be. Our kindredness was tangible, these broken hearts of leaders longing to see “Christians” go near with Jesus, burdened to see lost and lonely know they are fully loved. And the issue came up again.

It is an issue that has come up multiple times in conversation with leaders over these last years. The issue that we know Jesus intended His church to live sent, but why?

What is the essential message that we as His followers have to share? The message that we believed. The message that we hope others believe. And why?

Is that essential message the declaratoin that people are lost and hell is imminent and you need to choose Christianity? Is it the assertion that truth must be defended and a culture must be protected and so those pagans need to change? I am afraid that much of American church culture has mistaken that essential message to be one of or at least a derivative of these.

Hell is real. The Scriptures speak of it. I believe it. But I would suggest that Jesus lived and died and lived again to declare more than the message of hell’s imminence and the call to people to get their act together and grab a ticket out of it. He intended to give more than an alternative religion. He died to give life.

Truth is real. It is not an “it,” though. Truth is a person. Jesus needs not my strong defense for the sake of cultural preservation. Rather He asks for our selfless love for the sake of cultural restoration. This will not happen through our country’s capital. It will only happen through our respective community’s hearts. Jesus lived and died and lived again to go near with His love through His church’s going near with His love.

And maybe that is the essential message we have believed that we are now compelled to share. Could it be that simple?

The message I have believed and keep believing is that I am loved by the God who came near. The God Who did not wait for me to say I was sorry. Who did not leave me in my loneliness and hopelessness and hurt and shame and lostness. Who did not love me because I was lovable, but rather while I was still wayward and selfish and sinful and condemned did not condemn me. Who ached to give life again and was willing to lose life to be raised to life again. Who became “God with us” and asked me to go with Him, to love like I had been loved, now and forever.

Maybe the essential message we are to believe is that God loves us. Maybe the essential message He has intended that we share is simply that – we are loved by the God who made us, whom we spurned, but Who came near anyway.

Jesus, in fact, taught this to Nicodemus in John 3. God so loved the world, and those who “unbelieve” this are condemned by their own unbelief (John 3:16-18).

The two questions I have been asking friends, and for that matter that I keep asking myself as a reminder, are:

“What do you think God thinks of you?”

“Do you believe that God loves you?”

Lord, forgive us, please. Have mercy on us, please! Those of us here in America who call ourselves Your church have far too often called people to moralism rather than to You, the Messiah.

He does not want us just to live FOR Him. He desires that we live WITH Him. And He came near to restore us and invite us into that relationship.

Abundant life does not come when we live perfect and give our best. Abundant life comes and keeps coming when we live loved and give love as it has been given to us.

Sin was not worth dying for because it was the symptom of rules broken. It was worth dying for because it was the symptom of relationship broken. It is the evidence of death. It is the result of life not present, of love not trusted.

We believe we are loved and are fully secure in Him and that love compels us to love as we have been loved. That is good news worth sharing!!!

You are loved!!! You are loved fully!!! You are loved securely!!! You are loved graciously, even in your feelings of not being worth loving.

Jesus thinks you are worth dying for!!!

And why do we share this message?

Because not trusting that we are fully loved by the God who made us, believing that He is hiding something worth knowing from us, choosing to pursue what we can know rather than pursue knowing Him, that is the root of our problems. The cause of all evil. The source of our loneliness and isolation. The brokenness of humanity.

May we share His message. Surrendered. Grateful. Selflessly.

People we encounter every day do not believe they are loved and are lost, even trapped, in that brokenness. May that break our hearts like it broke God’s heart. May we remember our own brokenness that we did not fix ourselves. May we go near like He came near to us.

May the world believe in the One who was sent.

Jesus replied, “This is the work of God-that you believe in the One He has sent.”
(John 6:29 HCSB)

Question for you. Would dig your comment on the blog. Five sentences or less – What does it mean to “make disciples?”

Question for all the readers today. I would really dig your comment on the blog or Facebook.

Five sentences or less:

WHAT DOES IT MEAN TO “MAKE DISCIPLES OF JESUS?”

I am obviously referring here to Jesus’ final words / command to His followers in Matthew 28.

Please let me know your thoughts. Thanks!!!

A simple reminder for living sent from @TimChesterCoUK & @VergeNetwork – “10 Simple Ways to Be Missional”

The Verge Network shares some awesome resources that encourage and equip us to live sent daily. One of the authors / teachers they feature is Tim Chester of the Porterbrooke Institute.

Here is one of his posts entitled “10 Simple Ways to Be Missional” I thought was worth sharing.
———————–
10 Simple Ways To Be Missional (without adding anything to your schedule)
by Tim Chester

1. Eat with other people
2. Work in public places
3. Be a regular
4. Join in with what’s going on
5. Leave the house in the evenings
6. Serve your neighbors

Read the rest by CLICKING HERE.

Thanks to Tim Chester and Stew and the Verge Network folks for sharing. Grateful.

So grateful for the @WestpointChurch family and who Jesus is making us to become. Here are some highlights…

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On the night of February 15th, 2004, we sat in a living room here in West Orange County praying for and envisioning and committing to a local church expression committed to being the church, doing life together, and giving ourselves away. We were going to LIVE SENT daily, or at least try to learn and grow in figuring out and living out whatever that means.

On the morning of July 15th, 2012, we gathered in a West Orange County elementary school as Westpoint Church having equipped and sent His church into the daily, in the community, and around the world for over eight years.

Someone commented to me, “This is why Westpoint was started.”

The original vision of Westpoint was five bullet points for which we committed to cultivate, for which we continue to hope:

1 _ to be the church together as we follow Jesus daily and live sent in our in our spheres of influence.

2 _ to equip people with Biblical teaching to be growing up in Jesus most evidenced by love for one another as well as daily making disciples

3 _ to equip families to live out the Deuteronomy 6 command together, nurturing for healthy marriages and parenting

4 _ to serve locally and globally, giving away together what has been given to us

5 _ to multiply what we are doing together in West Orange County into various new and existing expressions both across the city and around the world

This past Sunday morning:

:: we gathered as a people who are following Jesus and being the church together daily.

:: we heard stories of and were equipped to love one another and make disciples.

:: there was ministry going on to kids and to families, and there were present couples whose marriages are being nurtured and are growing through some very difficult times.

:: we highlighted two significant ways we are giving ourselves away together locally and globally via IMPACT Winter Garden and GdE Haiti.

:: we heard from and prayed over Jim and Beth Collins as they are being sent to Las Vegas next month, AND there were present three couples who are seeking out mentoring from Westpoint as they look to cultivate for new expressions of the church right here in Central Florida.

WOW!!! Glory to God!!! Just wanted to celebrate that with you!!! So grateful that Jesus continues to make us to become what He intends for His church!!!

I am sure of this, that He who started a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.
(Philippians 1:6 HCSB)

PRAYER
Lord Jesus, You said multiple times that Your followers are to live sent as You were sent to us. Please give us wisdom as to what that means and what You intended. Please help us to surrender to reorient our lives to follow You to those to whom You are sending us. Please grow us in our love for one another and caring for one another and unity with one another around Your beautiful, restorative, gracious mission. And please keep us reminded that we do not have to be LEARNED to go and make disciples, but rather we are to be LEARNERS as we go and make disciples. We are grateful that up have loved us first. Now, may we go as we are compelled to love as You have loved us. Amen.

Cultivating Daily into Neighbors: are we ACTUALLY making disciples? Here’s two shifts that may need to take place…

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We know that Jesus said to make disciples. But are we, as His church, actually doing it?

This is a question our local church expression has been asking the last two years. And I have seen two major shifts occur for the folks who were doing it in theory only but are now actually doing it daily.

SHIFT ONE _ from discipleship to make disciples
The New Testament does not speak of “discipleship.” In the American church, we speak of it in terms of the thing that happens after evangelism efforts bring a convert. We think of it as a study for Christians in a classroom with fluorescent lights. On the other hand, the New Testament describes it in terms of “make disciples,” which is inclusive of evangelism. It is done out in the rhythms of the daily mainly, although a study can be involved at times. It is learning and living the ways of Jesus among the lost as we love them with a near love, like Jesus loves us, in hopes that those with whom we a walking will also believe they are loved by Jesus and begin to learn and live His ways among their friends rather than retreat to a classroom and church building.

SHIFT TWO _ from my family to being family
The church is not some program or event that serves the needs of my family once we follow Jesus. The church is people following Jesus together, learning and living His ways (especially His new command – John 13:34-35). I am not saying that the church doesn’t care for my family. I am just saying that the purpose of the church isn’t just about my family. Unfortunately, many of us treat the bride of Jesus in this way. However, what if the intent of Jesus was that we might be a family? More specifically, that we might be His family who lives as family with the people of our communities like He did with us. Read John 1:12-14. This is what He did. And the church must exist out among the lost and lonely that they might believe the God Who came near loves them and desires them in His family. But how will the know if all we do is think in terms of “my family?”

Francis Chan has shared for several years now a very simple teaching on HOW NOT TO MAKE DISCIPLES. It’s worth the watch for two minutes. Check it out below.

And may we not just memorize and study about making disciples. May we ACTUALLY make disciples.
-Jason

Cultivating Daily into Neighbors: author @HelenLeeAuthor of the book @TheMissionalMom guest blogs with insights about living sent to neighbors…

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Helen Lee guests blogs today for “Cultivating Daily” with four suggestions for cultivating the near love of Jesus daily into your neighbor. She is the author of The Missional Mom: Living with Purpose at Home and in the World, available on Amazon.com, and she blogs at TheMissionalMom.com. Both are very much worth the read.

Below are Helen’s wise suggestions and insights on how we, as followers of Jesus, can love our neighbor. Thanks so much for sharing these with us, Helen!

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1. Expand your definition of the word “neighbor.”

“Neighbor” is not just the person who lives next door to you, but the person whom God brings into your path at the time He appoints. It could be the fellow mom walking to school to pick up their child at the same time as you. It could be the person at the checkout lane in the grocery store that you see every time you are there. And certainly, it could be the lonely widower who lives next door to you. Who does God bring into your line of sight and into your life on a regular basis? Consider that person your neighbor.

2. Take intentional steps to be a light to that “neighbor.”

Once you have a greater openness to the people God is bringing into your life, the people he wants for you to see as your neighbor, start taking steps to reflect the light and love of Jesus in your interactions with that person, however brief. In all his interactions with people around him, Jesus was unforgettable; be that person who radiates God’s joy, peace, and kindness, trusting that even the shortest of those divine appointments will make an impression.

3. Pray regularly for those “neighbors.”

Pray specifically that the Holy Spirit would use your time with your neighbors in a purposeful way, revealing more of Jesus to them every single time. Cultivating the Gospel into your neighbor is not merely about transmitting words and ideas about who Jesus is; it is about introducing them to the person of Jesus as he resides in you, and as you share his love to those around you.

4. Take relational risks with those “neighbors.”

This is the hardest part: once you have made a relational connection with that neighbor, pray for an opportunity to take the relationship one step further. Perhaps it would be to ask if you could pray for them in some way; perhaps it would be an invitation to coffee or dinner. And if the person declines, continue the earlier steps and to pray that another opportunity will arise to take the relationship further. But be patient–relationships can take time to build!

Cultivating Daily into Neighbors: @RayOrtlund suggests that “Gospel. Safety. Time.” are essential for healthy, functioning church families. Being neighborly matters…

When I read the following article, I had many interesting reflections. One of them was simply how essential these three vital rhythms are for church families to actually love our neighbors. It is a post by Ray Ortlund on the GCM site, neither of which I know much about, but I do know that this article is worth the read.

Enjoy. Be challenged. Be encouraged as we cultivate daily…

_____________________

GOSPEL. SAFETY. TIME.
It’s what everyone needs.  Everyone.  Gospel + safety + time.  A lot of gospel + a lot of safety + a lot of time.

Gospel: good news for bad people through the finished work of Christ on the cross and the present power of the Holy Spirit.  Multiple exposures.  Constant immersion.  Wave upon wave of grace and truth, according to the Bible.

Safety: a non-accusing environment.  No finger-pointing.  No embarrassing anyone.  No manipulation.  No oppression.  No condescension.  But respect and sympathy and understanding, where sinners can confess and unburden their souls.

Time: no pressure.  Not even self-imposed pressure.  No deadlines on growth.  No rush.  No hurry.  But a lot of space for complicated people to rethink their lives at a deep level.  If we relax, trusting in God’s patience, we actually get going.

This is what our churches must be: gentle environments of gospel + safety + time.  It’s the only way anyone can ever change.

Who doesn’t need that?

_________________

Dr. Ortlund is Lead Pastor of Immanuel Church in Nashville, Tennessee. You can click here to read the article at its original site.

May we live the Gospel with one another, live loved and secure offering a safe environment for grace to abound. May we be patient as Jesus is making us all to become His church as He intended.

Grateful.
-jason

Cultivating Daily into Neighbors: loving your neighbor even in a not-so-neighborly context.

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The Leadership Journal recently featured an interview with John Dickson, author of Humilitas, historian, and co-director of the Centre for Public Christianity. CPX works to engage Australia’s mainstream media and general public with thoughtful content that explores the relevance of the Christian faith for the modern world.

Dickson shared insight that may be helpful for us in American culture. In particular, notice his response to this question:

LEADERSHIP JOURNAL:

What advice do you have for church leaders in America about how to engage the broader culture effectively?

DICKSON:

I think the very first thing is to do is adopt a stance of mission instead of admonition toward the world.

CLICK HERE to read all of the article.

Lord, please teach us how to simply love our neighbor again, in hopes that they, too, will know that they are loved by You in this way – You sent Your Son to die for them. May we live sent, as You were sent to us.

Enough admonition. Much love. :)
-jason

Cultivating Daily into Neighbors: Here are some recommended books to encourage us as we are actually loving our neighbors…

Not to long ago, I messaged out to some folks who are actually making disciples, in my opinion, and asked them to tell me three books they recommend that actually encourage followers of Jesus to make disciples in the daily rhythms of their lives. The list is below. I have not read all of these YET. But as you and I do, may we come back and leave our thoughts on the strengths and weaknesses of each. Grateful to all the leaders who responded and recommended.

Hope this compilation of recommended books is helpful!

May we see “on earth as it is in heaven” on our block as we live believing that God loves us, compelled to love others that they may know His near, life-giving love, as well.
-jason

Cultivating Daily into Neighbors: Simple Suggestions for Engaging Your Neighbors from @JoshReeves & @VergeNetwork

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Wanted to share this great article from the Verge Network by Josh Reeves about 25 simple ways to engage your neighbor. And there’s a bonus. There is a link to a previous article from Josh with 25 more ways that was actually a prequel to the article I have copied and pasted below :)

Hope it encourages you to love your neighbor! So grateful for the Verge Network and all the great resources they share.

-jason

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[ from the Verge Network ]
Recently, Josh Reeves wrote an article with “25 Simple Ways to Engage Your Neighbors.” Because there was so much interest in the article, we decided to give a follow-up with 25 more ideas to engage with your neighbors.

Here’s a recap of the original article, along with more ways to engage your neighbors:

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I have found that it is often helpful to have practical ideas to start engaging the people around me. Most of the things on this list are normal, everyday things that many people are already doing. The hope is that we would do these things with Gospel intentionality. This means we do them:

– In the normal rhythms of life pursuing to meet and engage new people

– Prayerfully watching and listening to the Holy Spirit to discern where God is working.

– Looking to boldly, humbly, and contextually proclaim the Gospel in word and deed.

Below is a second list of 25 simple ways to engage your neighbors. Not all of these are for everyone, but hopefully there will be several ideas on the list that God uses to help you engage your neighbors:

1. Cook an extra casserole and give it to a neighbor

2. Buy an extra dozen donuts and give them to a neighbor

3. Start a compost pile and allow neighbors to dump their compost

4. Host a coffee and dessert night

5. Organize and host a ladies craft night

6. Organize an effort for neighbors to help take care of elderly in neighborhood

7. Become a regular at your neighborhood pool/park

8. If you have a skill, let neighbors know that you can use it to help them for free

9. Host a movie night and discussion afterwards

10. Start a walking/running group in the neighborhood

11. Start hosting a play date weekly for other stay at home parents

12. Organize a carpool for your neighborhood to help save gas

13. Collect good will store items and offer to take them to goodwill

14. Have a front yard ice cream party in the summer

15. Start a sewing group

16. Go Christmas caroling in your neighborhood (invite neighbors in on it)

17. Throw a July 4th block party

18. Start a neighborhood Facebook/Twitter/Google + group

19. Ask longtime residents to help you learn about the neighborhood

20. Offer to babysit neighbors kids so they can have a date night

21. Find out your neighbors birthdays and take them a card and baked goods on it

22. Setup a meet your neighbors night with drinks in your driveway/front yard

23. Ask your HOA or apartment complex if they need help with anything

24. Host a regular Saturday morning breakfast potluck

25. Host a sports game watching party

Do you have some other ideas or ways that you or your Missional Community have engaged your neighborhood? Let us know below in the Comments section!

Missional Tip:
Pick one of these ideas and act on it this week. Let us know in the Comments Section how it went!
**********************************

Josh Reeves is the Lead Planting Pastor with Redeemer Church in Round Rock, Texas. You can follow Josh on Twitter: @joshreeves

Cultivating Daily into Neighbors: @WalMart and @CocaCola know that loving your neighbor matters. May we do the same :-)

Some folks who encourage and equip the church in western Europe to actually be the church by going and being the family of God in the midst of the culture there use a great video from WalMart and Coca-Cola as an intro for conversation about how important being “family” really is.

I often wonder what might happen if we as the church here in America would focus more of our energy beyond the Sunday morning toward actually going and being the family of God with the people of our communities. I would suggest that there is certainly more and more of this happening, for which I am very grateful. But those who call themselves His church should consider this question:

If God thought enough of putting on skin and coming to dwell among us (His neighbors), so should we as His church.

Such is the mindset of cultivating daily into neighbors. And by neighbors, again, we don’t just mean on your street only. We simply mean anyone in the daily pathways of your life, especially if you consistently interact with them. May we grow in the mindset that Jesus might actually have intended for His church to be more defined by how we are united around the purpose of being family out in the midst of our culture rather than defined by how we are united around a good worship experience.

By the way – if I consider myself a follower of Jesus who takes seriously the teachings of Jesus, including the one about making disciples as I am going, but I don’t have any deep friendships outside of my Sunday church gathering circle, then maybe I need to ask myself if I really take seriously that “making disciples” stuff. Because, if I am not bringing the love of the near Jesus and the security of the family of God into the daily lives of those in my pathways, many of whom are stifled by loneliness and insecurity, then I don’t value family and “loving my neighbor” and “making disciples” quite as much as I think I do.

Here’s hoping that we will be compelled to go love first as we have been loved. And here’s hoping that we might be inspired by the joy that comes from being family together, as WalMart and Coca-Cola have picked up on. Maybe we should even drop off a WalMart gift card to a neighbor. Or share a coke and some conversation. Just a suggestion :)

Oh yeah – here’s that video from WalMart and Coca-Cola about the joy that comes from being family together:

Cultivating Daily into Neighbors: 10 Simple Ways to Be Missional in Your Neighborhood from @TimChesterCoUK & @VergeNetwork.

I thought I would make the first post of 2012 for cultivating daily into neighbors a simple and focused one. Tim Chester, author of Everyday Church: mission by being good neighbors and A Meal with Jesus among many other quality books, offered these in a brief article that was highlighted by the Verge Network.

Hope they encourage you as you are cultivating the love of the near Jesus daily into your neighbors.

____________________

10 Simple Ways To Be Missional
…without adding anything to your schedule
by Tim Chester

1. Eat with other people. _ We all eat 3 meals a day. That’s 21 opportunities for church and mission each week without adding anything new to your schedule. And meals are a powerful expression of welcome and community.

2. Work in public places. _  Hold meetings, prepare talks, read in public spaces like cafes, pubs and parks. It will naturally help you engage with the culture as work or plan. For example, whose questions do you want to address in your Bible studies – those of professional exegetes or those of the culture?

3. Be a regular. _ Adopt a local café, pub, park and shops so you regularly visit and become known as a local. Imagine if everyone in your gospel community did this!

4. Join in with what’s going on. _ Churches often start their own thing like a coffee shop or homeless program. Instead, join existing initiatives – you don’t have the burden of running it and you get opportunities with co-workers.

5. Leave the house in the evenings. _ It’s so easy after a long day on a dark evening to slump in front of the television or surf the internet. Get out! Visit a friend. Take a cake to a neighbor. Attend a local group. Go to the cinema. Hang out in a café. Go for a walk with a friend. It doesn’t matter where as long as you go with gospel intentionality.

6. Serve your neighbors. _ Weed a neighbor’s garden. Help someone move. Put up a shelf. Volunteer with a local group. It could be one evening a week or one day a month. Try to do it with other members of your gospel community so it becomes a common project. Then people will see your love for one another and it will be easier to talk about Jesus.

7. Share your passion. _ What do you enjoy? Find a local group that shares your passion. Be missional and have fun at the same time!

8. Hang out with your work colleagues. _ Spend your lunch break with colleagues. Go for a drink after work. Share the journey to work.

9. Walk. _ Walking enables you to engage with your neighborhood at street level. You notice things you don’t in a car. You are seen and known in the neighborhood.

10. Prayer walk. _ Walk around your neighborhood using what you see as fuel for prayer. Pray for people, homes, businesses, community groups and community needs. Ask God to open your eyes to where He is at work and to fill your heart with love for your neighborhood.

Tim Chester is director of The Porterbrook Institute, a church planter with The Crowded House in Sheffield, UK, and the author of over a dozen books including Total Church and You Can Change.

Cultivating Daily into Neighbors: Challenging us all to a “sent” New Year’s Resolution inspired by @JeffVanderstelt…

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SOMA Communities in Tacoma, WA encourages folks toward a singular, selfless prayer every year. What a person or a family senses as an answer to that prayer then shapes their entire year, even their daily. It is a simple prayer with significant personal implications and potentially transformational implications upon those affected when the answer to the prayer is lived out.

The prayer is something like this:

Lord, to whom are you sending me (our family) this year, how do I need to reorient my (our) life to live sent to them , and will You please give me (us) the courage and wisdom to go and love them like you love them?

What if that was the defining prayer for you and your family this year? How might it change your family schedule? How might it affect your church family schedule? How might it redefine life as “the church” focusing your energy on living sent among our culture rather than spending almost all of your energy with people already in church culture?

It’s a great pray for loving your neighbor, cultivating daily the love and life of Jesus as you walk with them.

How about it? Are you willing to take on that prayer for your new Year’s resolution this year?

Happy New Year!
-jason

Cultivating Daily – Merry Christmas!!! Here’s the Christmas story as told thru social media…

Just wanted to share this Christmas gift with you. It’s how social media, web and mobile tell the story of the Nativity. It’s the Christmas story told through Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Google, Wikipedia, Google Maps, GMail, Foursquare, Amazon and more.

Enjoy…