i’ve been in denver all week at our annual mid-winter conference for the evangelical covenant church (www.covchurch.org). it has been an amazing time of hearing God’s word, praying, making new friends, and catching up with other friends. what i’ve learned most from this trip is the beauty and power of living and serving together.
we are typically individualistically driven (at least I am.;)) and concerned with our own progress and growth in life, but it’s so apparent, when gathering with others, that it’s so much sweeter when we have a communal and collective mindset. the covenant church pastors refer to one another as ‘mission friends’ which is a great description of God’s kingdom. it means we have a high value of our mission as well as a high value of relationship. we ARE in it together and need to remember that others need our encouragement just as much as we need it.
i’m so excited to be a part of building the Kingdom rather than a single church. i’m grateful to be part of the greater body of believers and value our friendships as we move forward to change lives and make disciples of all nations!!!
as i’m continuing to study the book of james, i realize more and more the connection between what we believe and our day to day actions. james goes so far as to say that the lack of an outward expression of our faith makes our religion worthless!!! (1:26) in fact, we deceive ourselves if we think that don’t live what we believe. i was reading an excerpt from ReJesus where it talks about Shane Claiborne (author of The Irresistable Revolution) taking a survey of a group identifying themselves as “strong followers of Jesus” and asking them, “Did Jesus spend time with the poor?” 80% of the group replied “yes,” while 20% responded “no.” The more baffling and humbling statistic is when the same group was asked if “they spent time with the poor,” only 2% responded that they did. I think that James would call their religion useless. sounds harsh doesn’t it? but it’s truth. even if they were some of the nicest people on the planet, their lack of action makes their religion worth nothing at all.
so… what happens when we read the Bible? do we read it as if it were an entertainment magazine? do we read it to stimulate our minds? or do we know it as the breath of God that gives us life and directs our life? it makes all the difference in the world! it may be the difference between true religion and one that’s worthless. it may be the difference between life and death!
next week, i’m going to be sharing a new initiative that i’m starting over the summer called the “manna” project. if you have been reading my blog and are interested in being a part of changing your community and living our your faith, then stay tuned next week and please invite everyone you know to connect with me here!!! 🙂
whenever we consider success in anything, we need to find some kind of measurable metric. for church, we look at number of members, number of attendees, tithes and offerings, number of baptisms, etc. but if we’re genuinely seeking Christ and His transforming power in our lives, how are we going to measure that? how do we measure “fruit” in someone’s life? on a broader scale, how do we measure the success of our activity as a missional community? the word that comes to mind is “vibe.”
so, we’re having this community barbecue tomorrow and have passed out over 1,000 fliers all over oakland in hopes of catalyzing community with one another. being a small church, there’s no way we could accomplish our vision of serving everyone that came so we’ve asked/challenged the community to serve their fellow neighbors. the response has been amazing! we have over 30 volunteers who are not part of our church agree to serve at this event. there are already new relationships being formed because we’ve made the effort to meet new people. so, how do we measure success? we established early on that our goal is not to fill our seats on Sunday. we decided that our goal was to make sure that people spent time forming new relationships throughout the day. the feel (or the “vibe”) has been awesome so far and we’ll have to rely on that in the short term. oh, how’s this for vibe? one of our church leaders was passing out fliers in West Oakland the other day and a young boy came up to her and told her that he heard kids at the skate park talking about our “party” this Saturday. Cool “vibe…” i’m not sure if we can quantify transformation all the time. i believe that it’s something that we know and feel when we see it and experience it… vibe…