But, How Do We Love Our Neighbors?

“Mission is not ours; mission is God’s. Certainly, the mission of God is the prior reality out of which flows any mission that we get involved in. Or, as has been nicely put, it is not so much the case that God has a mission for his church in the world but that God has a church for his mission in the world. Mission was not made for the church; the church was made for mission-God’s mission.”  ― Christopher Wright

God’s mission is to make all things new: to redeem and restore the world. His mission is for all to hear, know, believe, repent, and be raised to abundant life. In God’s grace, he not only comes to save us, but sends us out to participate in this magnificent mission. God sets sin’s captives free and they use that freedom to point others to their rescuer. God welcomes orphans into his family as they to invite others into the family. God brings to life those dying from sin, to proclaim the good news of resurrection. God invites us, through the gospel, into this mission. Jesus commands us to love our neighbors and then sends us to towns, villages, and cities.

A missional community is a group of people who are devoted to Jesus, to one another, and to their neighbors and city! They are disciples of Jesus who are committed to making more disciples of Jesus! Therefore, mission is not merely a monthly trip to feed the homeless or a trip to Africa to serve in an orphanage (although those are great things to do!). Mission is a primary and regular expression of gospel-centered community.

HOW DO WE LOVE OUR CITIES TOGETHER?

WE SPEAK AND SERVE

Jesus sends his disciples on the mission of preaching the gospel and confronting evil. Missional communities speak the gospel to their neighbors and the poor, they will also demonstrate God’s grace, justice, and love through their actions. Gospel word and deed is simultaneous, just as Jesus preached the gospel of the kingdom and brought the kingdom as he healed. A community centered on Jesus does not stay safe and secluded from the world but runs toward it or better: it invites others into it.

Your community is called, by Jesus, to make disciples and care for the poor. Which is not two callings but one. As you care for the poor, you invite others to follow Jesus. As you invite people to follow Jesus, you care for the poor. As you invite people to follow Jesus, you invite them to care for the marginalized. As you care for the marginalized, you speak the truth of the gospel. As you invite people to follow Jesus, you bless them with words, actions, and gifts. You show them grace as you speak grace. Participating in God’s mission is word and deed; speaking and doing.

WE SEEK RELATIONSHIP AND JUSTICE

The people you are called to love and disciple will have many needs. There will be service projects, collections, and donations. Emptying your pocket book will likely be part of following Jesus into his mission. Blessings and gifts will be prevalent.

The often forgotten gift and the hardest one to give is the gift of relationship. True care for the marginalized requires relationship with the vulnerable. It is through relationship that someone actually travels from being marginalized to being known. When someone becomes a friend and a member of a community, they are no longer being pushed to the outside of society but are being welcomed into the center of it. Imagine the people you are on mission with sitting at your dinner table, sharing a meal, and sharing stories with you. Imagine receiving new relationships from those you are sent to. The mission is not a project. The mission is people.

Missional Community is a Journey

Missional Community is a Journey

Missional community life is a journey, not a destination. We ask people to commit to the process. And that’s what it is. There isn’t an arrival. You can’t have been there, done that, and moved on. You’ll always be pushed forward, moving forward, giving, and calling others to go deeper. Each person participates in the pilgrimage to Christ and in Christ.

Learning to Read the Bible Together

Learning to Read the Bible Together

“We do not read the Bible simply to fill our minds, but to change our hearts. We do not read the Bible simply to be informed, but to be conformed to the image of Jesus. We read the Bible to stir our affections: our fear, our hope, our love, our desire, our confidence. We read it until our heart cries out, ‘The Lord is good!' Tim Chester, Everyday Church

Proverbs in DNA: Money

This guide was created to facilitate a DNA group's dive into our sermon series on Proverbs and Trip Forgeng's sermon on money.

DISCOVER:

Read Proverbs 8:12, 18, 20 - 21

Q: Are you primarily a giver or a getter with your money?

 

Q: Do you believe God is a giver or a getter? Considering what you do with your money, how does that express what you believe about God?

 

Q: How could you, with you finances, tell the truth and build the fame of the greatest giver of all?  How can you show what God’s like as giver?

NURTURE: 

Turning inward toward your own heart and beliefs. This time is intended to be self-reflective examination and pursuit of God.

Read Proverbs 3:13-16:  “Blessed is the one who finds wisdom, and the one who gets understanding, for the gain from her is better than gain from silver and her profit better than gold.  She is more precious than jewels, and nothing you desire can compare with her.  Long life is in her right hand; and in her left hand are riches and honor.”  

Ultimately, wisdom is found in the person and work of Jesus Christ because He is the wisdom of God. Wisdom is telling us: “Don’t chase after money! Chase after wisdom! Chase after Jesus!” Pursue the giver of every good gift and love Him so that with Him you get everything else as well.  

Spend time in prayer “chasing” after the person and work of Jesus Christ. Here are a few questions and prompts to aid you in this process. 

Pray thanksgiving prayers for how God is the greatest treasure. Think of every area of your life or thing you enjoy—God has given you that! Think of every relationship, provision, meal, lodging, job, promotion, and educational experience. God’s providence is found there. Praise God for his provision.

Pray confessing prayers. How have your treasured the things God gave you above God himself? How have you either abandoned work or made work your treasure? How have disregarded God’s provisions? How have you been a “getter”?

Pray for Forgiveness and enter Worship. Ask God for forgiveness for being a getter and rest in the good news that you are forgiven in Christ because of his work and you receive grace as his gift. Ask God to lead you into a life of wisdom with work and money.

ACT

In this section, we focus on living a life of obedience and faithfulness to the repentance and faith we’ve experienced. We desire to not only hear and learn about wisdom, but walk in it. 

This week we’re going to make a basic budget as a response to our learning. Follow the instructions in this downloadable guide to craft a budget in light of your learning.

Our budgets are planned worship and display who we trust and who we believe we are. Also, budgets are where we plan to be generous and receive God’s provision in work and in finances.

 

 

How to Pray In Community

“Prayer is a moment of incarnation – God with us. God involved in the details of my life.” — Paul Miller, A Praying Life

A key ingredient in gospel focused community and community on mission is prayer. Yet, our prayers and times in prayer together are often too small. Not in length but in scope. We ask for changed circumstances over changed hearts. We pray for good things to happen to us over kingdom advancement in and through us. God is interested in our jobs, health, our finances, and our emotions. Brining those to God is bringing God into the details of life.

This is significant, but it doesn’t have to end there. Don’t just pray for new jobs, new health, new funds, or a new attitude. Pray for the peace of Christ.

Take a quick survey of Paul’s prayers (get a complete list of Paul’s prayers here) and you will find overwhelming evidence that Paul wasn’t praying for sick grandparents, stress free trips to the super-market, or even acceptance into good colleges, or rest. Paul was praying for increased love, greater understanding of God’s love for us, power, thanksgiving for belief, changed hearts, power to defeat sin, joy, peace, and prophecy, among other things. Paul was praying in light of the gospel and for the gospel to advance in and through the church. These are inspiring prayers and they are unifying prayers.

INWARD: PRAYER FOR COMMUNITY

Pray for the mundane things of everyday life. After all you are a community that shares life. Ask people in your community for prayer in the day-to-day things like budgets, frustrations, issues at work, health, marriage, children, infertility, school work, etc. God cares about each of them and is present in each of them. Don’t just pray for the problems to go away. Pray for this to happen through them:

“[that] the God of endurance and encouragement grant you to live in such harmony with one another, in accord with Christ Jesus, that together you may with one voice glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ…May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope.” Romans 15:5-6, 13

“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, 4 who comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God. 5 For as we share abundantly in Christ’s sufferings, so through Christ we share abundantly in comfort too. 6 If we are afflicted, it is for your comfort and salvation; and if we are comforted, it is for your comfort, which you experience when you patiently endure the same sufferings that we suffer. 7 Our hope for you is unshaken, for we know that as you share in our sufferings, you will also share in our comfort.” 2 Corinthians 1:3–7

“That the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and of revelation in the knowledge of him, 18 having the eyes of your hearts enlightened, that you may know what is the hope to which he has called you, what are the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints, 19 and what is the immeasurable greatness of his power toward us who believe, according to the working of his great might 20 that he worked in Christ when he raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly places, 21 far above all rule and authority and power and dominion, and above every name that is named, not only in this age but also in the one to come.” Ephesians 1:15-23

“That according to the riches of his glory he may grant you to be strengthened with power through his Spirit in your inner being, 17 so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith—that you, being rooted and grounded in love, 18 may have strength to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, 19 and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.” Ephesians 3:16-19

“And it is my prayer that your love may abound more and more, with knowledge and all discernment, so that you may approve what is excellent, and so be pure and blameless for the day of Christ, filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ, to the glory and praise of God.” Philippians 1:9-11

This is only a small selection of the prayers found in the New Testament for communities of believers. The point is this: pray in light of who God is and what he has done. Pray for love, faith, hope, peace, grace, and comfort to come into each others’ daily lives. Pray for power, strength, endurance, knowledge, and righteousness. Pray for understanding of who God is and what he is doing in the midst of mundane life. In other words, as a community, regularly pray for one another to see God more clearly. One thing you will notice about the prayers in the New Testament is that they acknowledge deep pain and trails, yet they turn to the only one who could do something about the pain we experience in them. They prayed for the fruit of the gospel to be manifested in their lives amidst the trials—not just for the suffering to stop.

The profound heart shift is this: God, and all that comes with him, is better than a better job, health, financial peace, comfort, or whatever it is your heart desires instead of him. The prayer life of a community reflects either the shared worship of the community or the shared idols of the community. Listen to what you pray for with each other: is it for better lives or for more of God in your lives?

OUTWARD: PRAYER FOR THE MISSION

Prayer is also the fuel for a community on mission. If you are not being driven to prayer, your community is not on mission. Maybe you are doing good works or maybe you are making friends, but your hearts and lives have yet to be invested in their belief and reconciliation to God. When you make the shift from seeing mission as projects to people, you turn to prayer. There is no other way to continue on true mission than prayer. There is no other way to prepare for the mission than prayer. There is no better way to love your neighbor than through prayer. There is no strategy or plan apart from prayer.

Prayer is us acknowledging the presence and power of God. It is listening, asking, petitioning God with us. It is no small thing that the Great Commission begins with Jesus’ complete authority. Jesus is saying, I have the power, responsibility, and role to send you on the mission. It is also no small thing that the Great Commission ends with the promise that Jesus will be with us. A community on mission will pray regularly as an expression of his power and presence in mission. We pray because he is king of the world. We pray because Jesus is with us. Again, the New Testament shows us how to pray as we engage the mission:

“That words may be given to me in opening my mouth boldly to proclaim the mystery of the gospel, for which I am an ambassador in chains, that I may declare it boldly, as I ought to speak.” Ephesians 6:19-20

“I thank my God in all my remembrance of you, always in every prayer of mine for you all making my prayer with joy, because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now. And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.” Philippians 1:3-6

“At the same time, pray also for us, that God may open to us a door for the word, to declare the mystery of Christ, on account of which I am in prison—that I may make it clear, which is how I ought to speak.” Colossians 4:3-4

“Brothers, my heart’s desire and prayer to God for them is that they may be saved.” Romans 10:1

HOW DO YOU LEAD YOUR COMMUNITY INTO THAT KIND OF SHARED PRAYER LIFE?

By praying together. There are many ways to do communal prayer.

  • Pray and walk around your neighborhood.
  • Share needs and burdens, then pray for them.
  • Pray before meals.
  • Pray for individuals by name.
  • Model discipleship oriented prayers and teach people. Show people the prayers in the Bible.

The possibilities are endless. I like to begin by praying the scriptures which teaches folks how to pray.

USE THE BIBLE TO STRUCTURE AN INTENTIONAL TIMES OF PRAYER

CHOSE A PASSAGE

If the aim is to teach your community to pray the way we have been talking about, pick one of those prayers form the New Testament. Or what is a passage that would need to grow deeper into the lives of folks in your community. What truth needs to be believed.

PREPARE TO LEAD PEOPLE INTO COMMUNAL PRAYER

Leading people in prayer doesn’t seem to get much attention from leaders before a group gathering. It seems to be something we expect to just happen. Or, as I’ve seen in many communities and prayer meetings I have participated in, it appears as though the leader decided to have prayer to give themselves a ‘night off.’ The leadership goes like this: “we are just going to pray tonight, anything you guys want us to pray for? Great, let’s pray. I’ll close.” I know this happens, because I’ve done it too many times. Instead you ought to prepare to lead people in prayer in the same way you would in leading a discussion or teaching a passage.

Prepare by praying and asking the Spirit how to lead.

Prepare by studying the passage, what are the key words, phrases, etc. What is the author communicating? What does this teach us about God, what he has done, who we are, and how we are to live?

Prepare an outline for the prayer time. How will you structure this time? What will you pray for first? Second, etc? How will you conclude your prayer time? This is good preparation, but do so open handedly. The Spirit might lead to something else, which we will talk about later.

LEAD THE COMMUNITY IN PRAYER

Introduce the time, explain the passage briefly and explain why your community needs to spend time praying it together.

Give guidelines and direction. One of the big barriers to communal prayer, especially in the beginning of a community’s dive into it, is the “long winded prayer-person.” It is difficult for a community to pray together when it feels more like listening to one person’s long prayer. Examples of guidelines and direction:

  • Let’s pray with just a few phrases or sentences in response what we see in this passage.
  • Fill in the blank: God we see your grace in ____. God we need your power to ____.  God may your kingdom break into _____. This is especially helpful for people learning to pray and gaining courage to pray in front of others.
  • Ask people to stay silent for a certain amount of time, simply asking them to meditate on a certain part of the passage or listen to the Holy Spirit.
  • Pray one word or name. For example: Who do we want to see come to faith? Who do we need help learning to love? What are we thankful for? What is God like?
  • As you lead, be listening to the Spirit and the possibility that God may want to take the prayer time in a different direction. Make your plan but guide your community open handedly.

Final tip: have someone right down the big themes, requests, or recurring ideas that are prayed. It’s just a good idea as your community grows up to remember what your hearts prayed.

3 Reasons to Love Your Missional Community

A missional community is a group of people who are devoted to Jesus, to one another, and to their neighbors and city! They’re disciples of Jesus committed to being disciples and making disciples of Jesus together. I love my gospel community on mission. It’s messy, frustrating, and sometimes fun. But I love it. Here are three reasons why and why you should love yours, too.


Proverbs in DNA: Rest

This guide was created to facilitate a DNA group's dive into our sermon series on Proverbs.

Discover 

Reading the Scriptures and Discovering Truths about God and His World.

Read: Genesis 1, Exodus 20:8-11, Proverbs 13:25, Proverbs 30:15-16, Proverbs 19:23,  Matthew 11:28-30

Q: What does this tell us about God and His Character?

 

Q: What does this tell us about what God does, and what he’s done? 

 

Q: What does this tell us about who we are? 

 

Q: What does this say about how we are called to live?

 

NURTURE

Turning inward toward our own heart and beliefs. We’ve already discussed our striving, chaos, and busyness. We might “know” the things we’ve discussed, but we often doubt them in our hearts.

Q: What are of your life do you hear a voice saying: This isn’t enough? Where do you struggle with contentment, why do you think that is?

 

Q: Why is it hard for you to rest, and what does that say about your trust (or fear of or knowing of) God? 

 

Speak the truth in love to one another. Spend a few minutes describing how great and glorious God is amidst our fears, anxieties, and even greed. Consider reading Matthew 11:28-30 as an invitation to repentance and faith from Jesus.

ACT

Lastly, we want to discuss how we will walk in obedience and live the wisdom we’re learning in everyday life and in community.

Q: If we were experiencing a satisfied rest, what impact would that have on our culture? 

 

Q: How would our rest change our community interactions and our relationships with others?

 

Q: What would taking a sabbath look like? What would you “rest” from? How would you remember God’s work? How would you enjoy God’s work through recreation? 

 

For help, consider making plans together for a sabbath using the these guides for either a time of silence and solitude or an entire sabbath day: