October 17, 2016

“Go into all the World”

Christ’s command to his followers is simple and profound, calling them into something great and global.  It immediately conjures up images of passports and airports.  It is a monumental task that reflects the true vision of the Kingdom – every tribe, nation, and tongue.  But what if every word in that command had equal weight?

Certainly we would have that actional verb of “Go”, but then we transition to “into.” In local mission, when I think of “into,” I think of being invited into homes, into neighborhoods, into communities.  I think of being invited into conversations about how to strengthen local families.  I think about the desire to be invited into schools to serve lunches and mentor kids.  I dream of stepping into communities that are celebrating, and holding hands with those that are mourning.  The church being the church, coming alongside its own community with the message of love, hope and restoration that we know as part of our salvation story.

As church planters who have been called “into” communities, we have finally turned the corner on what it means to come in with a prescription and agenda of what we think the community needs.  We know it simply doesn’t work.  And at its worst, it creates damage as residents feel ignored, targeted, like projects.  But as we continue to respond to the “into” of this great call, I encourage you to dig deeper.

As Jesus wraps up his sermon on the Beatitudes, he finishes by encouraging his followers that they are the light of the world, the salt of the Earth.  Matthew 5:15 reminds us that no one lights a lamp and puts a bowl over it.  They put it somewhere visible so it’s light has great reach, and that God will get the glory.  Going “into” is giving feet to your light.  When you go, you take that light with you.

Have you walked “into” your local lawmaker’s office?  Have you introduced yourself?  Asked what the community need looks like?  Offered to pray for them?  Have you been “into” the local school and asked how you could help staff and students?  What does it look like to go “into” the local liquor store and ask the owners how you can pray for them?  Or sit next to the homeless and listen to what “into” feels like for someone who’s welcome nowhere.

Planters have the unique opportunity to rewrite the script and start fresh when it comes to what church “with” community looks like.  Discern where the Holy Spirit is asking you to step “into” and where doors are opening for you to posture yourself as a listener and friend to your church’s neighborhood.  Know the community and people in such a way that they can say, “Jesus loves us, and they do too.”  “They know my name.”  “They helped connect me to a job.”  “I first saw them cleaning around the local liquor store.”  “They volunteer at the same school my kids go to.”  Nothing is impossible when God opens a door for you and your team to bravely walk “into!”

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