Values: Ordinary +

Over the past number of months we have been working diligently to give an overhaul of our church's core values.  We have recognized the need to more clearly articulate the shared convictions that guide our actions and reveal our unique strengths.  In this way, our values work as missional motives.  They answer the question: "Why do we do what we do at the Church?"  These values become the springboards for daily actions and filters for decision-making.  They distinguish our philosophy of ministry and shape our culture and ethos.

Over the next few weeks I will be highlighting another one of our five newly articulated values.  You can examine All of our re-articulated values here.

This week I would like to highlight "Ordinary+"

(read, ordinary plus).  We articulate it this way:

   

Ordinary+

because ordinary people connected to Jesus share in Christ's extraordinary mission.   

(Mark 1:16-18; John 4:1-30, 39-42; John 15:16;
Acts 4:13
)

 

Take some time to reflect with me:

Read Mark 1:16-18

Mark 1:16-18

New Living Translation (NLT)

The First Disciples

16 One day as Jesus was walking along the shore of the Sea of Galilee, he saw Simon and his brother Andrew throwing a net into the water, for they fished for a living. 17 Jesus called out to them, “Come, follow me, and I will show you how to fish for people!” 18 And they left their nets at once and followed him.

 

Answer these questions:

Do you ever dismiss God's personal call because you don't feel your contribution could be significant enough?  

 

The Good News about Jesus makes missionaries of all God's people. How does this truth change your perspective?

 

One of the major barriers to our active response to God's call in our lives is the misbelief that "the call" is "for someone else." We somehow have gotten duped into believing that participation in Christ's extraordinary mission is for a select few; that it is for the extraordinary. I praise God that as this value gets lived out more and more, it will inspire greater participation in Christ's extraordinary mission.

 

An "Ordinary+ Prayer"

"This is the day the Lord has made, we will rejoice and be glad in it. We rejoice, God, today as we gather to celebrate an ordination and installation. And yet, we know that a pastor is simply a gift given to the church, by your design, like a father to a family, a mother to a family, or a child to a family. Ordination is not where we become servants of the Lord, to be about the Lord's Work. That takes place in Baptism, when you adopt us into Your family. We thank you for making us your children, and for making all of us bearers of your Holy name. Bless us, in every vocation that you place us in, whether our role at work, play, home, school, as neighbors, friends or anywhere, that we would bring glory to you, by being visible reflections of Jesus. As we learn to follow Jesus, help us to invite others to learn with us. Send your Holy Spirit, to change hearts and minds and make followers of Jesus from all over Madison who, in turn, make more disciples, until all of Madison is transformed. ..." a portion of the Prayer for the Church that Pastor Matt prayed on our behalf at the end of his ordination on Saturday, June 8th.

 Pastor Jeff 

 

Disciple // shift

In the month of June, The Story will make a pretty big shift, from the Old Testament to the New Testament, from Israel to Jesus, from mighty and stubborn kings to the suffering servant, from the great kingdom[s] of the Promised Land to a common stable in the little town of Bethlehem and the promised King.

I was recently blessed to attend a conference in Orlando, FL, thanks to the Church and our district, who sent 6 pastors and aspiring pastors from the Madison area. My father attended the conference with me and we had a great time discussing what we heard and how it might apply in our contexts. This installment of the year-ly Exponential Conference was called “Discipleshift.” If you hadn’t already guessed it, the conference was based on the idea that ministry needs to shift, from attracting people to our churches, to making disciples who make disciples [2 Timothy 2:2.] Discipleship seems to be one of the newer buzztopics in the evangelical community, and many churches have begun to see a trend where church goers are simply shifting between churches, instead of new people being reached for Christ. There were 5 parts to the conference, each represented by a proposed shift in ministry.

1. From Reaching to Making
2. From Leading to Being Led
3. From Teaching to Modeling
4. From Assimilating to Creating Community
5. From Attracting to Deploying

Obviously these are all related, but the one I want to ask you to focus on, today, and this month, is the second shift, from leading to being led. As a disciple of Jesus, what does it look like if you’re focused on leading, and being a good leader? For those you’re leading, what will they see that they need before they can lead others? Now, as a disciple of Jesus, what does it look like if you’re focused on being led, and being a good follower? For those you have invited to follow Jesus with you, what will they see that they need before they can lead others? In each scenario, where are the eyes of each person focused?

What is the difference between the Old Testament, and the New Testament? Is God different? Is one part Law and the other part Gospel? We’ve been reading and hearing about God’s upper story, and seeing how He has always been pursuing His people, always redeeming them back to Himself, and how His people always end up turning away. We hear about God’s grace and His pursuit every week. This verse from last week’s [for me, Israel: Battle Between Gods] sermon is sticking with me right now: 1 Kings 18:37 “Answer me, LORD, answer me, so these people will know that you, LORD, are God, and that you are turning their hearts back again.” So that they will know that you are God, and so that they will know that You are turning their hearts back again. God is always the one reaching to us. Jesus is the line between the Old and New Testaments. Jesus is the Alpha and Omega [beginning and end] of God’s creative and re-creative action. He is the focus of the Story.

So if our focus on leading has people looking at us, instead of Christ, what story are they getting? God is the one who changes hearts. This discipleship thing isn’t nearly as difficult as we’re trying to make it. Let’s be 23 Disciples [2 Timothy 2:2.] Let’s be followers of Jesus, who make followers of Jesus, who then make more followers of Jesus. You don’t even have to be a leader to make a follower of someone else, unless you’re trying to get them to follow you.

Take a moment to pray with me.

Dear God, Your Word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path. Jesus is the Word, the way, the truth, and the life, and no one comes to the Father except by Him. Light a fire in my heart, God, make me hungry for and keep me sustained by the Word. Keep my eyes fixed on Jesus and as He leads me make me dependent on Christ. Make me a visible reflection of Jesus, so that people would see Him, not me. And as I go, break my heart for what breaks Yours, grant me the missional heartbeat of God.


Matthew Wipperman
Director of Missionary Multiplication

 

Blind Spot

“We need each other.”

“We need God.”

“We need His wisdom and truth.”

“We need that truth to freely flow between us in this community of faith.”

“We need deeper friendship; more honest reflection, deeper thought, richer personal interactions with one another.”

These are some of the thoughts I have been entertaining since I read this article today.  The author shares 7 common blind spots that block out reality. 

“Here are 7 Common Blind spots:

  1. Denial of Reality - Feeling so strong about our own beliefs that we deny the beliefs of others, or deny facts right in front of our eyes.

  2. Control – Seeing ourselves as being more responsible for things than we actually are, or having more control over things and events than we truly do.

  3. Made-Up Memories – Making decisions based on memories that did not happen. Often we confuse our imaginations, or our dreams, with reality.

  4. Reality Distortions - Distorting reality to conform to preconceptions.

  5. Know it All – Thinking that we know more than what we really do. (We simply don’t know what we don’t know.)

  6. Listening Only to Validate What We Know - Failure to listen to others.

  7. Undervaluing What We Do Know – Listening too much to others, and allowing others’ beliefs to talk us out of our beliefs; or in some cases cause us not to trust our instincts.”

You can read the entire article here.

Which of these 7 common blind spots do you think might be blocking reality for you?                                                                                  

Pastor Jeff

 

Join the Conversation!

At the Church we share a compelling mission.  It really is an urgent mandate because life in Jesus brings peace.

This Blog is launched as another venue to help us live life in Jesus.  I invite you to engage in the conversation.  Our stories help one another.  Let’s get started!

What is it that really helps you connect to life in Jesus?  What are the everyday moments that inspire your trust and confidence in Him?  What stirs your passion for the Kingdom?  Prompted by an encouragement from Matt Chandler, Lead Pastor at The Village Church in Flower Mound, Texas, I have created my own list:

  1. Deep, honest, and passionate conversations with people who are trying to follow Jesus.
  2. Unhurried time spent with genuine friends (with no impending appointments to get to)
  3. Listening to someone reflecting on their experience after they stepped out in obedience to the prompting of God
  4. Writing a new post for my blog
  5. Reading a book by Timothy Keller
  6. Finding just the right word or word picture to articulate clearly
  7. Passionate and true music
  8. A long drive with Amy with no radio
  9. Exhausted, spent, at home with my family after the last Service on Christmas Day, sharing genuine love with meaningful gifts and conversations
  10. The Gospel of Mark
  11. Praying with Amy
  12. Taking the next step.  Doing something.

Matt posts “I also wrestled with and paid attention to what robbed me of affection for Christ.  What, when I was doing it or spending time around it created in me an unhealthy love for this world?” 

Here’s my list:

  1. Too much time alone with my thoughts
  2. Eating unhealthy over an extended period of time
  3. Spending too much money on stuff
  4. Caring too much about my sports teams
  5. Non-authentic conversations
  6. Long stretches of time without praying with others
  7. Too much time on my mobile devices
  8. Thinking too much about the distant future without any action towards it
  9. Being around too much clutter

What helps you maintain that strong and abiding connection to life in Jesus?  If you can fill your days with these things and steer clear of those things that gum up that connection, you will have a better chance at staying connected.  And, therefore, have a greater opportunity of joining Jesus in His mission.  What make your lists?