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Direction(s)

December 2, 2005

This Series Starts with Monday’s Post.

A church needs to have direction(s).

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I will start with BACKWARDS. A group should have an understanding and appreciation of the history of those that followed Christ before us. Growing up with a bit unhealthy admiration of the 1st. Century church, I have to say that this direction can like any be overemphasized. There is a lot to learn near the source but it is not the only place to learn because it is not the only place God has been at work. We should see ourselves as playing along to the Song God has been playing in the World for all of time. Many others before us have left their contribution to the song to help us hear.
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Next is INWARDS. (Farm flashback, next we will eat the innards, surely you have to be southern to know what innards are) Sorry, that is how my weird mind works. (as another aside, I obviously don’t edit these posts, I just type). Inwards is the idea of community. We are meant to morn and celebrate together. We are meant to pray for, with and over each other. We are meant to confess our failures and encourage with our triumphs. We are meant to share our possessions and live in a deep communion with others.
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FORWARDS. Just as life is a journey, so is the life of a church. As the hobbit said, when you start out and put one foot in front of the other, there is no telling where the road will lead you. Following the Spirit will lead us to things and places that are more wonderful than anything we could have ever imagined on our own. God’s vision is much greater than our own. So we have to move forward and accept and expect change. We must embrace creativity.
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OUTWARDS. The idea of being missional demands an outward focus. This maybe should be first. To walk in Jesus’ mission means that we advance the Kingdom. McLaren uses that Triangle model where the church pushes to expand the kingdom. God cares about suffering and injustice. Living out the Good news means getting down in the ditch with people and getting mud on you. As Bell says, “…the church is at its best when it serves, sacrifices, and loves, caring about the things God cares about. We were created to live for something larger than ourselves.”

Well that is about half of them, the rest next time.

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4 Comments leave one →
  1. December 2, 2005 4:17 pm

    {this series is touching my “innards”}

    Seriously, good stuff. Especially the last one…well really they are all equally good, that is just my current soap box…

  2. December 2, 2005 6:45 pm

    I like your “directions” here, but I don’t know that we can, or should be, outward, “first.” I think all of these directions should progress together and probably in the “order” you list them, backwards, inward and then add outward. I say that because I really don’t feel (or believe) that we have anything to reach “outward” with until we, ourselves, have been filled up, at least to some degree, with the “good news” we have been come to know.

    Does that make sense?

  3. December 3, 2005 11:46 am

    Dee,
    sure, that makes sense. To be outward alone might be doing God’s will but you could be not at all following Jesus.

    I say that might need to be first because there is a HUGE tendency to lose the outward focus, to turn inward and become unhealthy because of it. I think in part that is due to our individualistic focus. But a group can also become monastic and withdrawn and that happened in a different culture.

    Its just that if we lose our mission focus we turn into something different.

    Its Saturday and my brain is not working too good.

  4. December 5, 2005 12:03 pm

    That’s interesting that you say “But a group can also become monastic and withdrawn and that happened in a different culture” because I think it happens a lot in this culture, even the one we live in.

    In fact, I was just reading an article recently in Newsweek about both men and women in America who have gone off to live lives of hermits or monastics and such, leaving behind families and (grown) children, grandchildren, nearly total contact with other people in any way at all.

    Most live very disciplined, inward lives, doing away with all of the “trappings” of society and/or the world. They spend nearly all of their time praying and meditating, etc, but it is all, every bit, internal and self-centered, in that no one else is invovled, nor do they involve themselves in anyone else’s lives at all, in any way.

    The idea of monasteries, the monastic life, “cults” and removing one’s self from interaction and influence on and with the rest of the world seems so foreign to me of what God would have us do and how He would have us live.

    I know that in some ways as Christians we are to “remove” ourselves from the world and to be different than “the world,” but I have never thought that it meant being totally and completely apart and separate from the world. If anything, I think we should be the opposite – totally engaged with the world for good.

    So, I definitely agree with your view of us being outward in our focus as Christians. It, to me, IS an absolute necessity!

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