Category: Missional Church

The Burden of Mission

Not a second that goes by that God isn’t on his mission. The triune God plotted history with the mission of new creation in mind.

The Father sent the Son to defeat sin, death, and evil and put creation back on track. Together, they sent the Holy Spirit into the church to spread the good news that Jesus has defeated sin, death, and evil through his own death and resurrection and is making all things new, even us.

The church has been sent into the world: a missionary people cut from the cloth of a missionary God. When we are saved, we are saved into God’s mission. But, the burden of mission does not fall on us.

The burden of mission fell on Jesus so the blessing of mission could include us.

The burden of mission fell on Jesus so the blessing of mission could include us. We don’t carry the ultimate burden of redemption—that is Jesus’ job—but we do get to share his liberating news. We don’t have to talk anyone into anything. We just get to share the greatest news ever. We get in on the greatest mission hatched in history.

My Endorsement for A Big Gospel in Small Places

“There are billions of people living in small places, yet they are often ignored by ministry-minded people like me. Sure, rural areas are downstream of mainstream ideas, innovation, and trends, but small places are thick with culture and rife with opportunity for gospel ministry: poverty, depression, suicide, racism, injustice, and souls stranded in sin unacquainted with the love of God in Christ Jesus.

As Stephen points out, both rural and urban places are easily romanticized. What the world needs is Christians who value the small even in the big—disciples who move slowly and are attentive enough to bring a grand gospel into the nooks and crannies of life. This book has just about everything you need to help you do that, especially if you live in a small place. It offers rigorous research on rural trends, demographics, and the subtleties of smallness; it motivates ministry in those areas with the gospel of grace; it equips you to develop a theological vision for the place of your calling; it immerses you in real stories of rural ministry; and it challenges urban ministry biases with winsome wit, but most of all it calls us to love in place and discover something more of the immeasurable love of God in Christ Jesus for all the world.”

Jonathan Dodson, lead pastor of City Life Church, Austin, founder of gcdiscipleship.com, author of The Unbelievable Gospel and Here in Spirit

Go get a copy!

Image result for big gospel small places"

Nitty Gritty Training for Missional Communities

Acts 29 recently hosted the Gospel Formed conference aimed at equipping communities groups to practically live out the essentials of Gospel, Community, and Mission. Each talk got nitty-gritty with challenges and opportunities in each area. I found so much of it to be insightful and encouraging that we posted the videos to our City Group leaders Slack channel.

Will Walker: Gospel

  • Provides a couple “gospel grids” to help lead discussions deeper into Jesus.
  • Guidance in how to draw out vulnerability and lead people into application for real life change.

Todd Engstrom: Community
  • Marks of true community: intentionality, sacrifice, imperfect.
  • How a community can deeper grow: affinity, proximity, crisis, mission.

Jonathan Dodson: Mission
  • What to do when facing challenges and fatigue in mission.
  • Guidance in how to organize, diffuse, and stoke evangelism, mercy, and justice in your groups.

Preaching the Gospel with Your Sweat

Jesus came preaching the gospel to the poor, “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor” (Luke 4:16). But he didn’t just preach to the poor; he proved it to the poor. Jesus is not merely a man of deep conviction, he’s profoundly authentic. He walks right out into the margins of society and calls us to follow him. To take our middle-class wealth, comfort, and convenience and subordinate it to the greater needs of the marginalized. He says nothing short of “Follow me…into the margins.”

The Gospels depict Jesus spending time with the mentally ill, the disease-ridden, and in the homes of the fever-pitched. We often refuse to drop a meal off if someone is contagious. Follow me, Jesus says.

In the sprawling city of Kampala, Uganda, the city center is surrounded by undulating dirt roads that wind into the slums occupied by millions of unaccounted poor. The slum roads are lined with cardboard and cinderblock homes, bordered by open sewage ditches, where half-naked children run free, some with parents many without. It was my day to depart after long two weeks of rural and urban travel, teaching, and orphan ministry among some of the poorest people I have ever known.

My flight out was that afternoon. I couldn’t wait to get home. The team was slated to go to an orphanage. I was flying out before them. When I woke up that morning, I took a warm shower, put on some fresh clothes, and began to reason why I shouldn’t really go to the orphanage with the team. I could get some shopping done, take care of some admin, and oh, when I landed in the States I had a conference to speak at! Lots of prep needed for that. I was trying to justify not walking into the margins, spending time with street kids and orphans.

Over breakfast, I read Luke 5, where I saw God–God–care so much for the marginalized that he became sweaty. Instead of avoiding the dirty, smelly, disease-ridden poor, he walked right into their living rooms, placed his holy hands on them, and loved them. Jesus’ saving message was proven in serving action. The Messiah got dirty with the dirtiest of us all. As I read, I wept. The reason I didn’t want to go to the orphanage was because I didn’t want to get dirty, sweaty before I got on that plane. I had fresh clothes on. I didn’t want to spend time with poor orphans because I didn’t want to get dirty.

Jesus is so deeply authentic, so true to his own message, that his life demands a response. His gospel is so counter-cultural, so status-reversing that it exposes the rich in their pride and compels us to love the poor in their humility. Jesus didn’t just speak a great gospel; he lived a great gospel. He brought the hope of comprehensive salvation right into the slums. He announced and accomplished the gospel, and he is calling us to follow him. He’s calling people out of their designer slums and comfortable homes into the lives of the emotionally broken, socially awkward, mentally ill, economically destitute, racially marginalized, and the eternally-separated-from-God, not only to announce salvation but to prove it with our very own lives.

But “proving” Christ is not enough. Preaching Christ is more than enough. He heals all, makes everything new.

Jesus preaches the gospel to the poor with his sweat. Will we?