shift 3 of 5 suggested shifts to be made if the church hopes to make disciples as Jesus intended…

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This week, I am re-posting five shifts from a 2011 blog series on LiveSent.com. You can click here to read shift 1, click here to read shift 2, or read below for suggested shift 3. Hope it encourages us all to be the church as Jesus intended.

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Suggested Shift 3 of 5 _ feed me to feed others

I don’t think I am exaggerating here. I would suggest that the common approach to what the American church has called “discipleship” tends to be a very self-absorbed, personal development track for which the primary motivation is to “feed me.” This is not biblical. At least that is what I am suggesting in SUGGESTED SHIFT # 3 (IN ORDER FOR US TO ACTUALLY BE MAKING DISCIPLES as Jesus intended).

Now in this we must be brutally honest with ourselves. Whether individual or family, married or single, child or adult, have kids or don’t have kids, young or old. Do you look for a “church that meets my/our needs,” or do you look for a people with whom you can both learn and live the ways of the Kingdom as well as together share them with those who may not even be following the King yet, loving to both neighbors and nations.

Is your motivation when it comes to “church” more about “feed me” or more about “feed others?” Get honest with yourself here, because the answer to this question is found in why you are even a part of the local church expression of which you are a part.

Say you are single. You looked around for a church family with a happening singles ministry. They gathered. They had events. People were becoming not-single thru this ministry. It looked good to you. And you really liked the band and the speaker. A perfect fit. You may have even invited some friends to join you. But what I have described above is not you as the church engaged with God on His mission daily making disciples. It is you as a consumer choosing a church that feeds you and meets your needs.

Say you are a mom and dad. You looked around for a church family with a happening student ministry. They gathered. They had events. Students behaved and dressed and spoke well. Even though they ate peanut butter from someone else’s armpit during some skit on the first night you attended, you were cool with it, because they gave away great prizes to the kids. A perfect fit, right? But what I have described above to you is not you leading your family to be the church together engaged with God on His mission daily making disciples. It is you as a consumer choosing a church that feeds you and meets your needs. I would go so far to even suggest this – if we as leaders don’t actually live out the intended mission of God in front of and alongside those middle and high school students, a whole lot of them will not stick with the hollow consumerism that attracted them to be a part of a local church expression once they get into college and are met with many other attractive options.

[SIDE NOTE: I am not suggesting that a happening singles ministry or a hip student ministry are bad things. God uses them to transform people in Christ a lot. I am focusing here on motivation and purpose.]

Wait a second!!! You scream out as you exclaim, “I HAVE NEEDS, TOO!!!” or “MY FAMILY HAS NEEDS TO!!!!” I know. I do, too. Two questions, though. One, are you basing your “church choice” on a need or a want? And two, are you truly fulfilled in getting or giving?

Our family has needs, too. I just don’t want my kids growing up having their attention spans grabbed for a season with an attractive ministry. I want them having their hearts gripped for life by a Savior who loved them first and now compels them to live with a beyond-me purpose – the only kind of life, in fact, that can even keep their attention and truly fulfill.

We must not forget what Jesus and Paul both taught about our needs being met and our life being full.

Consider this:

38 “If you don’t go all the way with Me, through thick and thin, you don’t deserve Me. 39 If your first concern is to look after yourself, you’ll never find yourself. But if you forget about yourself and look to Me, you’ll find both yourself and Me.
[Matthew 10:38-39, the Message]

And this:

11 “I’ve told you these things for a purpose: that My joy might be your joy, and your joy wholly mature. 12 This is My command: Love one another the way I loved you. 13 This is the very best way to love. Put your life on the line for your friends.
[John 15:11-13, the Message]

And this:

12 So, chosen by God for this new life of love, dress in the wardrobe God picked out for you: compassion, kindness, humility, quiet strength, discipline. 13 Be even-tempered, content with second place, quick to forgive an offense. Forgive as quickly and completely as the Master forgave you. 14 And regardless of what else you put on, wear love. It’s your basic, all-purpose garment. Never be without it. 15 Let the peace of Christ keep you in tune with each other, in step with each other. None of this going off and doing your own thing. And cultivate thankfulness. 16 Let the Word of Christ-the Message-have the run of the house. Give it plenty of room in your lives. Instruct and direct one another using good common sense. And sing, sing your hearts out to God! 17 Let every detail in your lives-words, actions, whatever-be done in the name of the Master, Jesus, thanking God the Father every step of the way.
[Colossians 3:12-17, the Message]

It sounds counter-intuitive, but our personal needs are only truly met when we live loved and give love. Our needs are only fulfilled when we trust that we have been loved first by a God who was willing to demonstrate that love through sacrifice, and we then live daily to give His love away into the lives of others. And not just through a service project. But through deep relationships in which “on earth as it is in heaven” is beginning to blossom, among both the “lost” and the “found,” via shared life together in the daily rhythms of our lives.

Relationships that do not just provide refuge and a false sense of security, though. Relationships that purposefully and intentionally push us toward disciple-making and mission engagement and selfless living because that is the mission around which those relationships have united and for which they ultimately exist.

We must move from “feed me” to “feed others.” And probably more appropriately, from “feed me” to “share what has been given to me with others” so that we can experience the love and life as Jesus intended. He loved us first and asks us to love as He has loved us.

Suggested shift # 4 tomorrow…

Cultivating Daily into Family: @GHGuthrie shares 4 suggestions for cultivating the near love of Jesus into your family…

Over the next couple of weeks, I will be sharing some guest insights from folks whom I have asked to share four suggestions for cultivating daily into family, into neighbors, into the marketplace, unto the nations, and for the sake of unity, respectively. Today the suggestions come from husband, father, professor, Bible scholar, avid reader, and all-around great dude – Dr. George Guthrie. Make sure and check out Read the Bible for Life as well as Reading God’s Story, both works that He either authored or compiled and invaluable resources as we all continue to learn and live the ways of Jesus in the daily rhythms of life.

He was my professor and mentor in college, is my friend, and will be a blessing to you I am sure as he has always been to me. I asked him for four suggestions for cultivating the near love of Jesus into family, based upon what he and his wife lived and did with each other and their kids. Thanks Dr. Guthrie for doing that.

Here is what he shared:

1. Cultivating space for our relationships with the Father. The good news is that God wants to know us face-to-face and has paid a price to make that possible.  Among other dynamics, the new covenant involves us all knowing God.  So, we have made time with God priority for us, and we have taught our children to have such time as a normal rhythm of life.

2. Cultivating our family relationships with gospel conversation around the table. As family members we also need face-to-face time with each other, and meals tend to be a great time to communicate. For our family, we have seldom done conversation about the Bible as a program; such conversation has tended to happen naturally as an outgrowth of our individual times in the Word. Our children have consistently asked sincere (and sometimes very difficult) questions about the Bible. The conversation is in the air we breathe as a family.

3. Cultivating our hearts and minds with good media. When the children were small, they were only allowed to listen to “Jesus music” (e.g. Michael Card’s “Sleep Sound in Jesus” CD) or the Bible (either in dramatized form or just being read) as they fell asleep at night; they did watch or listen to other types of materials at other times. We really worked at only allowing age-appropriate movies as they were growing up. We placed strict limits on video games. On the other hand, we have made reading central to our home (rather than a TV).  We and our children have been exposed to lots of great theology and stimulating stories that have developed our thinking about God, the world, and ourselves.

4. Cultivating space and resources for ministry to others. Ministry in and through the church has just been a normal, consistent part of our lives. We have involved our children in giving from their earliest days. We constantly have people in our home, either to live with us for a time, or to feed and minister to them for an evening (we currently have 15-20 students over for a meal every-other week). We are not naturally great at cultivating relationships with our neighbors and still are learning how to do that more effectively, but we have tried to develop an “others focused” mentality for our family.

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Thoughts? Questions? If you do have questions for Dr. Guthrie, comment here and I will ask him to interact with you when his time allows.

Hopefully these suggestions have encouraged you as you cultivate daily into family.

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