Discipleship. Community. Theology. Life.

Last night my small group was at my house until nearly 11 PM, and my co-leader didn't leave until 11:40.  We had wrapped up the group around 9:00, but as people sat around the circle chatting, two of the group members began to talk about a play they had seen over the weekend, "A Bright New Boise."  As they related the story, it paints a picture of Evangelical Christians as people who disengage from the world because they're really only concerned about getting to Heaven.

This began a conversation about how well (or not) this stereotype represents the American Church, role of faith and works, the Church's response to homosexuality, the need to serve the poor, the tendency for a purely social gospel to replace the Gospel, the need to love others, whether ongoing sin will cause someone who believes in Jesus to go to hell, the problems with faith as our parents practiced it, the blind spots of our generation of Christians, and the perception of the Church by those who are not a part of it.

As I sat there listening and participating, there was a moment when I remembered and rediscovered why I do what I do, why I lead small groups, why I help others organize and lead small groups.  I help create environments where conversations like this can happen.  I help create environments where people can wrestle with their faith, where they can figure out what it means to live out their faith, where they can disagree and still walk away as friends.

It was a rich conversation.  It was the sort of conversation that is worth its weight in gold.  The feeling is much the same feeling as giving your all on the soccer field or the basketball court with a team of friends.  It was challenging, draining, and invigorating all at the same time.

It was discipleship.  It was community.  It was theology.

It was life-giving.

The challenge now is to make sure it translates into life-change.

Photo by ElvertBarnes

What are you about?

It's a simple question really, although one that might be difficult to answer:  What are you about?  What defines you?  What is unique about you?  What makes you who you are?

Jamie asked this question of herself on her blog, which got me thinking about what I'm about.

I'm about Jesus, and I'm about helping others follow him.

I'm about my wife.

I'm about the Church and more specifically my church.

I'm about community.

I'm about cities. I live in DC, and my last three trips have been to Seattle, New York City, and Addis Ababa.

I'm about food. I especially love Chicago pizza, hot dogs and beef sandwiches, and if you grill meat I'll like it.

I'm about leadership, learning to lead myself and others well.

I'm about too much TV.

I'm about receiving grace and trying to get better at giving it.

I'm about reading and writing.

I'm about social media.

I'm about driving.

I'm about generosity.

I'm about being stressed and agitated but trying to change that.

I'm about my friends.

I'm about Sabbath.

I'm about poker.

I'm about competition and winning.

I'm about thinking and challenging and stretching my mind (and yours).

I'm about serving the vulnerable, because that's what Jesus is about.

I'm about integrity.

I'm trying to be about joy and intentionality.

I'm about theology.

I'm becoming about artistic expression and travel.

I used to be about politics.

I'm about exercise (sometimes).

What are you about?  Leave a comment below or better yet, write your own post and link back to mine.  I'll be sure to swing by your blog and check it out.

Photo by Flickr User gfpeck

Making Disciples or Producing Programs

I ran across this thought provoking video from Kelli and Niki Tshibaka on a missionary friend’s blog.

It got me asking…

What am I about?
What is my ministry about?
What is my church about?

Am I—are we—making disciples or just putting on programs?

How much time should I be putting into creating a program, a framework through which people can be discipled, versus just directly discipling people myself?

I say to myself that the small groups fair we put on this weekend helps connect people with others in relationships where discipleship can occur, but maybe if I just spent time discipling people rather than organizing an event, they would reach out to others and the people at my church wouldn’t need help getting connected.

Or maybe an event like that is exactly how people do wind up getting discipled.

What is the church? And what is it about? And how are we to best fulfill Christ’s command to make disciples?

Church Shopping

The phrase “church shopping” is used derogatorily to describe the typical process of trying to find a church. People go from one church to another to find the one that “feels right,” “meets my needs,” or provides “solid Biblical teaching and good music.”

I was sitting in a class seven years ago when a professor told me that it’s not about a church meeting your needs but about being where God calls you, and I still firmly believe this.

However, I don’t think God always e-mails us a Google map with the address of the church we’re supposed to attend. So, how do we pick a church when we don’t know where God is calling us? I’m not even convinced that He always has a particular place in mind. He may not care if you go to First Baptist or First Methodist.

Perhaps we’re supposed to be in the place where we can best serve. Maybe instead of asking if a church meets our needs, we should ask if the church is a place where we can radically advance the Kingdom of God. That may be a church that is growing, dynamic, and has a lot of resources, a place where we can come alongside and support a great ministry. It may be a church that is struggling and needs a particular gift, talent, or resource that God has given us.

I’m reading Unstoppable Force by Erwin McManus, and a line from that book inspired this post. “Our motto degenerated from ‘We are the church, here to serve a lost and broken world’ to ‘What does the church have to offer me?'”