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Posts Tagged ‘disciples’

overflowing-cupI like to go to church
I like to go to church.
I like the happy songs we sing,
I like to go to church.

I don’t know when I learned that song but I was humming it as I walked home from church yesterday. It had been a good morning in worship, with an emphasis on prayer that pervaded the entire service and made me want to say, “Amen!”

And speaking of prayer…

Since I started talking about the missional church at First Baptist five years ago there has been some discussion about where that mission takes place—inside or outside the building. Sometimes the people who are on mission inside the building—teaching Sunday school, working with children’s choirs, serving Wednesday night supper—complain that all the attention is being focused on the mission outside the building—helping the homeless, building Habitat houses, and tutoring in the elementary schools.

Well of course it’s not either/or, it’s both/and, but in an effort to get us thinking outside the walls of the church and get us working in the community I have necessarily drawn attention to that part of our mission, and the church has responded enthusiastically, so enthusiastically that in my less faithful moments I begin to wonder if there will be anybody left inside the building to sing the hymns or teach Sunday school.

So, here’s the prayer I’m praying these days:

Lord, I want you to fill up the pews of this church until they are overflowing with people who love you and love to sing your praises.

I want you to fill up the offering plates until they are overflowing with gifts given back to you in tearful gratitude.

I want you to fill up the classrooms with disciples who are eager to learn, leaning forward in their seats, open Bibles on their laps.

I want you to fill up the hallways with people who greet each other with hugs and laughter, where every Sunday feels like a family reunion.

I want you to fill their hearts with love, fill their souls with faith, fill their minds with truth, and fill their lives with every good thing you have to give until it overflows this building and spills out onto the streets of this city and into every surrounding suburb.

I want you to pour yourself out through your people until your Kingdom comes, and your will is done, in Richmond as it is in heaven.

Now, that’s the kind of prayer that gets at the “both/and” problem, and gets at it in a Kingdom way.  There is no lack of abundance in God’s kingdom.  We don’t have to choose between being on mission inside the building or outside.

We can do both.

Amen?

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On MissionOn Sunday I spent three hours with the Ministry Planning Team at Richmond’s First Baptist Church. We were trying to draft a mission, vision, and values statement for the church, something we’ve been working on for a while.

We were stuck on the “mission” piece.

What is it that we, as a church, are trying to do? Are we trying to bring heaven to earth? Are we trying to make disciples of every nation? Are we trying to be Jesus’ witnesses from Jerusalem to the ends of the earth? Are we trying to save people from eternal damnation?

We looked at mission statements from Coca-Cola (“To refresh the world, to inspire moments of happiness and optimism, to create value and make a difference”) and Starbucks Coffee (“To inspire and nurture the human spirit – one person, one cup and one neighborhood at a time”). We talked about “aspiration” and wondered if our mission statement could be about something people really want, rather than just about something they ought to do. We thought we were getting close at one point, and then our conversation ricocheted off in another direction.

We’ve still got work to do.

But I woke up Monday morning thinking about our mission, and ended up writing the litany that’s printed below. It’s not our mission statement. It’s just Jim’s thoughts on a Monday morning. But I hope you will read it and let me know your thoughts. Does any part of it refresh you, or inspire you…or make you want a Coke? (smile).

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Leader: Jesus taught his disciples to pray that God’s Kingdom would come and God’s will be done on earth as it is in heaven.

People: Richmond’s First Baptist Church wants to be an answer to that prayer.

Leader: Jesus knew what a big job that would be. He told his followers to go, make disciples, baptizing them in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit and teaching them to obey all that he had commanded.

People: Let us never be content with making converts alone.

Leader: Jesus breathed on his disciples and said, “Receive the Holy Spirit; as the Father has sent me, so I send you.”

People: We are sent as Christ was sent to love the world God loves.

Leader: Let us go in the grace of God, the love of the Lord Jesus, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit.

People: Amen.

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Personal TrainerMy friend Peter is a personal trainer at the Jewish Community Center.  He is also a committed Christian.  Yesterday he asked me how far he should go with the Great Commission in a place like that.

“Well, that depends,” I answered, “on whether you’re trying to make converts or disciples.

“When you try to make a convert,” I said, “you’re hoping to bring somebody around to your worldview.  You want them to believe all the things you believe.  As a Christian, you might want them to believe that Jesus is the Son of God, that he was born of a virgin, that he rose from the dead, etc.  And if you try to do that here, at the Jewish Community Center, you might lose your job.

“But making a disciple is different,” I said.  “Look at the way Jesus made them: he didn’t ask those fishermen to believe that he was the Son of God, he just asked them to follow him.  It was only after months of listening to him preach and teach, watching him help and heal, that Jesus asked them, ‘Who do you say that I am?’  And that’s when Peter said, ‘You are the Christ, the Son of the living God!’

“So, why not simply invite people to join you in Christ’s mission, instead of trying to convert them to a Christian worldview?  Eventually they will come to see him for who he really is.”

And then I talked to Peter about his work as a personal trainer.  I said, “You don’t want people to sit out in the lobby and read fitness magazines; you want them to come in here and work out.  You don’t want them only to believe that exercise is good for them; you want them to experience it.  When they do, you won’t have to convince them; they will know it for themselves.  That’s the difference,” I said, “between a convert and a disciple.”

In yesterday’s blog I mentioned Warren and Julie Pierce, who have been helping refugees get resettled here in Richmond.  Today I want to share this invitation from Julie (below) to help out with a massive clothing distribution for New Americans (i.e. refugees) this Saturday.  This could be your opportunity to follow Jesus in discipleship and to invite someone else to come with you.  You don’t have to say, “If you died tonight do you know where you would spend eternity?” (the standard street-corner evangelist’s question).  You can just say, “Hey, I’m going to help distribute clothes to refugees on Saturday…

“Want to come?”

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Dear ones, this is a two part message –

(1) an opportunity for you to bring heaven to earth and

(2) an update on the New American ministry

We appreciate your time in reading this, and also your response whether in person or through much needed prayer.

“A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; as I have loved you, that you also love one another. By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another” (John 13:34-35, NKJV).

We are offering another of our quarterly massive clothing distribution events hosted by Westover Baptist Church, 1000 Westover Hills Boulevard, just across the Nickel Bridge.

Saturday, February 9th

8:00-9:00am Team needed at Outreach Center** to load clothing bins & hanging clothes – transport to Westover BC and unload (trucks/station wagons needed)

9:00-10:30am Set up team needed to unpack and display clothing on tables and on hanging racks

10:30-11:30am Actual event

11:30am-noon Break down – load bins/racks and transport back to Outreach Center, all leftover clothing to Goodwill

12:00-12:30pm Sweep and clean church

All done in ½ day!

Any questions, please respond to this email and if you can volunteer for all or part, thanks for letting us know. If you have donations, you may bring them on that day to Westover BC, however, they must be received during the set up time between 9:00-10:30am. Thanks for bringing dresses, blouses, all coats and men’s shirts on hangers if possible on that day. We are in desperate need of coats, hoodies, sweaters; all sizes, all types. We have very few men’s clothes at this time. Please take a look in your closets and get those to us before February 9th.

**Outreach Center address: 2944 West Marshall St. 23230 3rd building back from corner faces Altamont, yellow w/brown doors.

–Julie Pierce

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Editor’s Note: Julie is being ordained as a deacon tonight.  Do you see what happens when you begin to follow Jesus and work alongside him to bring heaven to earth?  People notice.

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I was reading John 15 as part of my morning devotions on Tuesday when I saw that line in verse 8 about glorification.  Jesus said, “My father is glorified by this, that you bear much fruit and become my disciples.”

I stumble over that word–glory, glorify, glorification.  What does that really mean?  I tend to think of glory as some kind of radiant energy, as in “the glory of the Lord” that was up there on Mount Sinai, so that when Moses came down from the mountain his face was shining.  I think about Jesus being transfigured on another mountain, so that his face began to shine like the sun.  As I was reading John 15 on Tuesday and thinking about how the things we do glorify the Father I thought, “Maybe that’s what it means: that when we bear much fruit and become Jesus’ disciples it makes the Father’s face light up.”

I loved the simplicity of that, and the mental picture it created–the face of God lit up because of something I had done.  And then I remembered how my own face had lit up when I talked with my daughter Ellie the night before on the telephone, when she told me all that she was doing and I thought about all the ways she makes me proud.  It occurred to me that my daughter had glorified me: she had made my face light up. 

I may be way off base here (I often am), but it warmed my heart to think that I could make the Father’s face light up in the same way Ellie made my face light up–simply by doing those things that please him and make him proud. 

Imagine that.

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