Those of you who are connected to DHBC know that we have been going through a gifting assessment that helps us to better understand how God has created, gifted and shaped us and how to use this for the church and the mission of the church. As we undergo this, one fear I have is that we will twist our understanding of these gifts to only mean how we are involved in the official and formal ministries of the church. To do this would greatly misunderstanding what we are called to be as a congregation.
The whole impetus for doing the gifting assessment is our new three-year vision, appropriately titled “Outward 2017”. In a snapshot, we want to move toward being a community of believers that is focused on going “out”. We believe that we are called to be continually renewed by the gospel but also to bring renewal to our city and world by demonstrating and declaring the transforming power of the gospel.
While we do have plans to do this corporately, centralized evangelism plans are not the core of our plan.
No, evangelism and mission a not things that the “church” is going to do. They are things that we each as members and participants of this body will do. And here I use “do” in a very loose sense. Our goal is not that we devote 5 hours a week going door-to-door handing out tracts. Our goal is that we continually remind each other of the complete amazingness of the gospel that we re-arrange our entire lives in everyday mission. This doesn’t (necessarily) mean that we completely change how we live our life, simply that we rethinking how we live our life and who we do it with.
A couple weeks ago, I met with all the LEAD protégés. We imagined a scenario were we all left to plant a church in Uzbekistan (or somewhere, I can’t remember where). What would we do when we landed? How would we go about planting a church. As we thought about it, if we want to be intentional about bringing renewal to those around us, we have to do the same things here.
Learn the language
To be on mission everyday in Vancouver, we don’t have to learn a new language, but we do need to stop talking in a language that no one knows. Have you ever noticed that your vocabulary changes on Sunday mornings (and I don’t mean four letter words that are spelt with punctuation marks). We need to learn how to talk about Jesus in everyday life. We need to talk about our sanctification (tip, maybe don’t use the word sanctification, maybe say “looking more like Jesus”), our sin (when we hurt ourselves by thinking and acting like someone/something is more true or worthwhile than God), our righteousness (that God accepts me how I am), our adoption (that God treats us like family) and eternal life (that God is showing us how to live in the fullness of how He created humanity to live). We need to talk about the gospel and how it both pushes against but also ultimately fulfills what our culture craves.
For example, I think our culture craves self-expression and acceptance. In one way, the gospel pushes against that. It says we are broken - we are fundamentally flawed. But in another way, only the gospel fully fulfills this craving because it tells us that we are also more accepted and loved than we could ever imagine. That despite our brokenness, God came 100% of the way to us and we are fully accepted exactly as we are (and loved to much to stay this way). The gospel teaches us that we are created specifically by God, knitted together by Him. Often the “self” we express is not the self we truly are, we are a type of sinister Borg, infested by sin but God, in His great love for us, made a way for us to throw off our invader and express who He truly made us to be.
If we were to plant a church on the other side of the world, we would need a context to meet people. You know where we would start? With people we interact with everyday – neighbours, postal workers, local baristas. Perhaps we would also pick a hobby and try to meet people through our fly-tying club or soccer team. And then we would spend time with these people, inviting them into our home, sharing meals with them, watching Uzbekistan’s Got Talent and playing Settler’s of the Silk Road. We would rethink every social activity we do and use it to connect with people – and connect those people with other Christians.
If we want to be on everyday mission in Vancouver, we need to do the exact same thing. We look at what we are spending our lives doing and see how we can use those to build connections with people that we want to come to know Jesus. And here is an important thing to remember. We are connecting with people, not projects. We don’t make “friends” just to try and win them to Jesus, we legitimately grow in our love for people and desire to see the gospel bring renewal to them. If they reject the gospel, we are still their friends.
In one sense, this isn’t much of a change – from the outside our lives can look very similar. But in another sense, this is a complete overhaul of our lives. It is a tacit reminder that our lives are not our own. And it can be hard. So we need God to empower us. We need God to empower us with a reminder of how amazing the gospel is. Unless we remember did not hold back His life from us, we will hold back our lives from Him. We need God to empower us with a love for others, to love them sacrificially and to desire to spend time with them. And we need God to empower us with a love and an ability for His mission. Ultimately, Jesus makes His own disciples. We don’t. Our job is to point to Jesus and ask His Spirit to do the work. And if history is to believed, He will – and we will get to be a part of it and celebrate it forever.