Monday, December 09, 2019

The Road to Missional: Journey to the Center of the Church

The Road to Missional: Journey to the Center of the Church
Sourced from Outreach Magazine Website: HERE
By Michael Frost
 What Exactly Is Evangelism? 

The mission of God is far wider than the evangelistic enterprise. Indeed, evangelism is one of the aspects or functions of the missio Dei, but not the only one. We alert people to God’s reign through Christ in a variety of ways, one of which is the verbal announcement of that reign. We must see evangelism in this broader context. But having said that, we need to be careful not to assume that unexplained action is evangelistic. As it’s used in the New Testament, the term evangelism describes a verbal announcement. It is a declarative activity. Words are required. As David Bosch points out, “This message is indeed necessary. It is unique. It cannot be replaced by unexplained deeds.” But as Bosch also pointed out, there is no perfect set of words that captures the gospel, and it is ludicrous to think that we can train Christians to present the gospel as a five-minute sales pitch.
Part of the problem with evangelism is that many Christians feel they need to get the whole gospel out in one conversation. The reason for this is many Christians are only ever in a position to “evangelize” strangers because all their friends are Christians. When the only “evangelism” we do is with strangers on airplanes or at dinner parties or business conferences, we feel an understandable pressure to get all the bases covered, because this might be the only opportunity we (or they) get. Evangelizing friends and neighbors, gradually, relationally, over an extended time, means that the breadth and beauty of the gospel can be expressed slowly without the urgency of the one-off pitch. 

When we understand what it is to be truly missional—incarnated deeply within a local host community—we will find that evangelism is best done slowly, deliberately, in the context of a loving community. It takes time and multiple engagements. It requires the unbeliever to observe our lifestyle, see our demonstrations of the reign of God, test our values, enjoy our hospitality. And it must occur as a communal activity, not only as a solo venture. Unbelievers must see the nature and quality of the embodied gospel in community. And all the while, conversations, questions, discussions and even debates occur wherein we can verbally express our devotion to the reign of God through Christ. No more billboards. No more television commercials. No more unsolicited mail. If evangelism is like a meal, think of it as being prepared in a slow cooker and served over a long night around a large table. It can’t be microwaved. It can’t be takeout. 

In 1986, Italian chef and provedore Carlo Petrini founded the Slow Food movement which has since expanded globally to over 100,000 members in 132 countries. Slow Food exists to “counteract fast food and fast life, the disappearance of local food traditions and people’s dwindling interest in the food they eat, where it comes from, how it tastes and how our food choices affect the rest of the world. To do that, Slow Food brings together pleasure and responsibility, and makes them inseparable.”

Well, that’s what missional thinkers are attempting to do with evangelism—to slow it down, to counteract the abuses of fast evangelism, to place evangelism back into community, to rediscover both the pleasure and the responsibility of announcing the reign of God. It shouldn’t be a one-off, hit-or-miss presentation. As Bryan Stone from Boston University points out, it is as messy and organic and communal as life itself:
The practice of evangelism is a complex and multilayered process—a context of multiple activities that invite, herald, welcome and provoke and that has as its end the peaceable reign of God and the social holiness by which persons are oriented to that reign.

Part of the problem is that so many of our models for evangelism are itinerant evangelists and pastors. These people rarely tell stories about being deeply incarnated into a neighborhood or host community. Rather, their examples are all about "evangelizing” strangers on airplanes. They tell us about how they managed to fashion just the right line at the perfect time that broke their subject open and allowed them to present Christ to them. They make these presentations to people they will never see again and for whom they feel no sense of ongoing responsibility. It is the equivalent of fast-food evangelism, and it’s not the way it was meant to be. 

So, how is it meant to be? What exactly is evangelism? David Bosch defines it:
Evangelism is that dimension and activity of the church’s mission which, by word and deed and in light of particular conditions and a particular context, offers every person and community, everywhere, a valid opportunity to be directly challenged to a radical reorientation of their lives.

Friday, August 30, 2019

“The New Colossus” by Emma Lazarus (1849-1887)

Not like the brazen giant of Greek fame,
With conquering limbs astride from land to land;
Here at our sea-washed, sunset gates shall stand
A mighty woman with a torch, whose flame
Is the imprisoned lightning, and her name
Mother of Exiles. From her beacon-hand
Glows world-wide welcome; her mild eyes command 

The air-bridged harbour that twin cities frame.

“Keep, ancient lands, your storied pomp!” cries she
With silent lips. “Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!

Eight Heroes of the Hebrew Bible

The characters depicted in the Bible were not perfect by any means. We find story after story marked by scandal, failure, and intrigue. Yet we also find many stories of women and men who were able to look beyond their circumstances, completely trust in their God.

Like us, these individuals made both good and bad decisions along the way—and experienced both good and bad consequences—and we find our struggles and hopes in the pages of the Bible that tells their stories.

These eight snapshots of heroes of faith from the Old Testament will encourage you, inspire you, and help you deepen your trust in the God so that you might live out your faith in radical ways today.

Monday, April 22, 2019

The Mystery of Us: Ephesians Series

The followers of Jesus are a mystery. Often powerless and poor; often down-trodden and marginalised by the reigning powers, they doesn’t look like the coterie of the King! Yet through the lenses of faith they are ‘seated in the heavens’ in Christ. 
Two big themes are revealed in Ephesians: (1) Christ and, (2) the Church. The title of our sermon series, “The Mystery of Us,” combines these two themes. 
Six times in Ephesians, the writer of the book, Paul, uses the word mystery to describe the divine breakthrough of God’s grace that occurred in Jesus.“The Mystery of Us,” series picks up on the mystery of God’s wealth and power bestowing a great destiny on insignificant people such us; and the mystery that the likes of us can withstand powers and principalities, so that the reign of God is manifest in us and through us. 
One of the great blessings Jesus gave us is the Church. In Christ, “you and I” have become “we”. We were all brought into the body of Christ, the church, with Christ as the head over us all. In Ephesians, the church is a beautiful and glorious thing. As God’s people, we are the workmanship of God. God’s work of art, and the dwelling place of God. The church exists to the praise of God’s glory. We are the stage on which God shows off. It is even said that the angels are in awe of God’s work in his church.
You can read through the whole letter to the Ephesians HERE.
Come and join us as we work through the letter to the Ephesians at Diamond Valley Baptist Church 10am and 6pm Sundays.
Download the Connect group notes from HERE

Tuesday, April 09, 2019

The Writing’s On The Wall | Deborah Conway & Willy Zygier

"It’s the cliché that means everybody else knows but you, you’ve been blind to the bleeding obvious. The phrase originates from an episode in the Old Testament, Book of Daniel, where the Babylonian King Belshazzar was entertaining his courtiers on the eve of battle, getting drunk from cups stolen from the Temple in Jerusalem, instead of being with his troops."
"The hand of G-d appeared and proceeded to write on the wall, words of judgement about not measuring up to expectations. Belshazzar was dead by dawn. He never saw it coming. None of us see it coming..." (Deborah Conway & Willy Zygier)

What are the certainties that weigh us down? What are the illusions and assumptions that immobilise and paralyse us until too late?

Marcel Proust said: "The real act of discovery consists not in finding new lands but in seeing with new eyes." 

   (Click pic to play song...)