Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Is Your Church Sending or Sent?

Many churches are "missionary" minded. They have large faith promise budgets and consider themselves a "sending" church as they prayerfully and financially support international and national missionaries. They receive reports and hear testimonies of what God is doing "over there" as the missionaries live and work cross culturally. These missionaries are valuable instruments in God's plan of reaching the whole world with the gospel. Yes, churches should be "sending".

Regrettably, fewer churches have a "missional" mindset. These churches see themselves as a "sent" church. They prayerfully and financially support the efforts of the local missionary members of their congregation. They receive reports and hear testimonies of what is doing "around here" as these missionaries live and work in their own culture. These missionaries are just as valuable instruments in God's plan of reaching the whole world with the gospel as those missionaries who leave home in vocational ministry positions.

In my opinion, congregations should ask themselves two questions:
Is our church a "sending" people that supports the spread of the gospel "over there"?
Is our church a "sent" people that encourages the spread of the gospel "around here?

It is only when both questions are answered with a "yes" answer that a church has fully joined with God in His mission of reaching the whole world with the good news of the gospel.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

"Baby Steps" Aren't Baby Steps to Babies

Have you ever heard a baby say, "Look at me, I'm taking baby steps!"? I know - babies walk before they talk real well. So what do we adults mean when we talk about taking baby steps?

Recently our Transition Team was discussing what "baby steps" could be taken by the congregation in order for us to move toward a more missional mindset in the church. As we were talking I was thinking - what would be easy for us to do? Later I realized that "baby steps" are small but never easy.

In fact, "baby steps" are more frightening to babies than adult steps are to adults. Have you ever noticed how a baby holds on to anything and everything when they are learning to walk. They have a fear of falling and don't like the pain of hitting the floor.

Leaders must remember this reality. Baby steps are frightening to anyone who has never walked before. If we are to help our followers to walk on their own we must hold their hand firmly enough that they know we will not let them hurt themselves if they are less than successful in their efforts. And we must offer enough encouragement that their courage will be strong enough to take the risk.

When was the last time you helped someone take some "baby steps" to venture out and try something new and different?

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Becoming Part of the Answer to Your Prayers

Recently while visiting an "eating restaurant" as my wife likes to call them (not sure what other kind of restaurants there are) I engaged the server in conversation and built up enough re pore that I was comfortable popping the question that I ask people as a believer on mission with God. "How can I pray for you?"

I explained to the server that I would be blessing my food and would like to bless him in prayer and that I would pray for any special needs that he might have. His response, "That I have a good night here at the restaurant and that the tips are good."

He left and I bowed my head to pray. I prayed for my food and then prayed for Jim to have a good night, get some good tips and that he would remember to give God the thanks for them. In that moment I realized that I had to be part of the answer to my own prayer.

I have heard all my life that we needed to be willing to be part of the answer to our prayers. And here it was coming true. This old tight wad was going to have to lay out some serious cash so that Jim would know that God really does love him.

Don't know if I will ever see Jim again on earth. But it would thrill my socks off (if we wear socks in heaven) to have Jim come up to me in heaven and tell me about a night in an Applebee's restaurant when he got one step closer to Jesus because this old guy prayed for him to have a good night and he had the best night of his serving career.

Are you praying for people to get one step closer to Jesus? Are you willing to become part of the answer to your prayers?

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Sins of Omission

One definition of sin that Wesleyans like is "a willful transgression of a known law". Where do sins of omission fit into this definition? They don't! But whether you are Wesleyan or not, you may find yourself struggling to admit it when you sin by your failure to do something.

Why do we have this struggle? I believe it is because sins of omission are never deliberate or intentional. Therefore, we tend to excuse them as "lesser" offenses and just sweep them under the proverbial rug. Recently I failed a brother through a sin of omission. I battled the conviction to go and to ask for forgiveness by justifying myself. It was just an oversight. I would do better next time.

I did ask the brother to forgive me. He had even felt offended and seemed a bit surprised by my request to be forgiven. So was my conscience just overly sensitive? Did I get all bothered for nothing? I don't think so! First, I was trying to obey the Lord! Obedience, even perceived, is a good thing. Second, I imagine that my confession will help me to be more alert the next time I am in a similar situation so that the same omission does not occur again.

When was the last time that you felt conviction over a sin of omission? How did you deal with it?