Missio Dei can be translated as the "sending of God." Remember the Blue’s Brothers? The story of a paroled convict Jake Blues and his brother Elwood as they decide to reform their blues band in order to raise funds to save a Catholic orphanage where they grew up. Their claim? “We’re on a a mission from God.” While I don’t often look to Dan Aykroyd and John Belushi for theological insight, it seems they at least had a handle on the notion that God is a sending God. I used to think of “Missions” as a program or a committee or something the church did. Come to find out, it’s who God is. Mission is an attribute of God, not a program of the church. It wasn’t until the church got off mission that it began to form “Missions committees.” The Sojourn Community exists because there is a mission, not the other way around.
This Sunday we will be looking at the next 6 versus in our Journey through Colossians. There we will find the Gospel as the central theme. Did you know this is the central theme of Sojourn as well? Check out our website and you will find where we have driven some stakes in the ground. In other words, the stuff we won’t compromise. One of those stakes is our intent to be what we call Gospel Driven. So what exactly does that mean? It means that we believe to our core that the gospel is the good news that through Jesus the power of God's kingdom has entered history to renew the whole world. And that when rely on Jesus' work and record (rather than ours) for our relationship to God, that kingdom power comes upon us and begins to work through us. SO when we dream, we love to imagine what it might look like in Greensboro and the Triad to have God’s kingdom become visible. Nothing moves Christ-followers to humbly serve, live with, and love all the diverse people of the city like the gospel does.
Heavenly Father, give me a heart like the heart of Jesus, a heart more ready to minister than to be ministered to, a heart moved by compassion towards the weak and the oppressed, a heart set upon the coming of Your Kingdom in the world.
I pray tonight, for all those sorts and conditions of men to whom Jesus gave special thought and care;
For those lacking food or drink or raiment (clothing),
For the sick and all who are wasted by disease,
For the blind,
For the maimed and lame,
For those oppressed by an injustice,
For the lost sheep of our human society,
For fallen women,
For all lonely strangers within our gates,
For the worried and anxious,
For those who are living faithful lives in obscurity,
For those who are fighting bravely in unpopular causes,
For all whoa re laboring diligently in Your vineyard.
Grant, O Father, that Your loving kindness in causing my own lines to fall in pleasant places may not make me less sensitive to the needs of others less privileged, but rather more incline me to lay their burdens upon my own heart. And if any adversity should befall myself, then let me not brood upon my own sorrows, as if I alone in the world were suffering, but rather let me busy myself in the compassionate service of all who need my help. Thus let the power of my Lord Christ be strong within me and His peace invade my spirit. Amen
I am writing to share a special event taking place during our regular Sunday gathering on November 7th. On that Sunday, we will be led by peculiar people. So what’s different about that? ☺ These Peculiar People (Charlie and Ruth Jones) are the international drama team that will be doing a live special presentation called Kate & Luther for Sojourn and their friends and neighbors. It’s a live and entertaining drama about Luther (as seen through the eyes of his wife) and how God used an ordinary man to remind all of us of what a loving and gracious God we have. This is the presentation they do in Germany and when we ask them if they would do it here at Sojourn—they said “yes”! Invite some friends and join us at 10:00 at Kernodle Middle School!
For me, this week at Sojourn seemed to be a series of promptings. Not all weeks are like that. Promptings are those internal nudges that cause me to wonder (even aloud at times) if this is from God----to question if what I am sensing carries indicators of divine source. Or, do I just need a nap? Despite uncertainty at times, they remain one of those consistent things in my life that cause me to pause and reflect. These whispers seem to come most often in the form of discontent—dissatisfaction with the way things are.
This week I found myself with a growing uneasiness that we are settling for far too little. Strange as it is, compromise often creeps in through the process we call planning. Oh, I know, planning ahead is good. But it carries with it the presumption that we can and should. It has a way of dulling my anticipation of God’s daily surprises hung like post-it notes amidst my daily routine. Reminding me that there is a God and, I am not him. So I am often torn between strategy and faith. Is one the enemy of the other or are we simply called to balance the two—to live in the tension? When it comes to the question of what right balance of ingredients allows a local church to flourish, I believe Ephesians 4:11 is worth considering.
In Ephesians 4:11, we find reference to the 5-fold ministry, namely the five gifts given to the church by our Lord Himself. These include the Apostolic and Prophetic gifts along with those of Evangelism, Shepherding and Teaching. The problem has long been the retooling of these gifts in order to fit the confines of theological systems that can restrict rather then expand who God is. Has Ephesians 4:11 become diluted to the point it has lost its potency in the Western church? Many have dispensed with the apostolic and prophetic gifts in the confusion over office and gift, relegated evangelism to a program and restricted the gifts of Pastoring and Teaching to a hierarchal formula that divides the body of Christ into camps of “lay” and “clergy”. So, with three-fifths of the church’s leaders MIA and the other two-fifths out of reach of the ordinary Christ-follower, is it any wonder we have drifted from faith in action to reliance on a strategic planning model?
When the leadership of a local church recognizes and invites a full compliment of gifts around its table, it can gift birth to movement rather then organization. It allows the body of Christ, in the words of Habakkuk, to “live by faith”. It is precisely at this point that the church has the right leadership ethos to move forward without reservation, understanding more fully the power of the Gospel to reweave the fabric of the culture around it.