Drew Goodmanson shares a good story about how a couple made a gospel-centered decision about moving in community. A great example for all of us. An excerpt:
Recently, in our missional community we have had two families begin the process of searching for a home. Both were considering a location farther away from the community where they could get more home for the money. In our gospel intentional way we asked them what were the motivations behind this. If we are called to be a community on mission with the gospel at the center of everything we do, wouldn’t our decision of where we live profoundly be impacted by this? … What motivates us to move outside the city to buy a bigger home? Comfort? Investment? Safety? If the answer isn’t calling than ultimately this decision is not being made with the gospel at the core…We ultimately need to get down to the heart issues of what motivates people in all our decisions, because if we are not walking in line with the gospel we are worshiping something other than God. These two families have begun to re-consider what they want to prioritize. They recognize that if they moved 20 minutes away it would impact their ability to be gospel intentional. Certainly, if God was calling them to move and their motivation was the gospel at the center, we would embrace this and help them move but our missional community doesn’t see this as the case. These people have been willing to submit this decision and heed the counsel of the community because of the gospel intentionality they desire. (Note: This is not gospel ‘intensity’ these conversations are not heavy-handed or us trying to make decisions for them.) All of us seek to expose our lives to each other and the community around us so that when any decision or circumstance is brought up we examine it through the idea of God’s calling on our life to live as a redemptive people who are servants of our great King…
Steve Timmis is an innovative leader in The Crowded House and Porterbrook Traning Centre and now European Director for Acts 29 in the UK. I’ve had the joy of working with Steve on a few things and my respect for him grows each time. Here are some outstanding resources on cultivating gospel-centered missional communities.
Resurgence has provided three sessions on Total Church traning on Gospel Communities.
- Session 1: Gospel-centered Principles – an outstanding explanation of the Gospel summarized as: “Jesus, God’s promised Rescuer and Ruler, lived our life, died our death and rose again in triumphant vindication as the first fruits of the new creation to bring forgiven sinners together under his gracious reign”.
- Session 2: Gospel-centered Practices – focuses on the “how tos” of GCs, addressing language, structure, mission.
- Session 3: Gospel-centered Practices – focuses on more best practices on leader development, etc.
Last night Steve Timmis taught on Gospel Communities at Mars Hill Church in Seattle. After establishing a solid biblical theology of the centrality of Jesus for missional communities, Steve shared some key training points for MCs. Below are my summaries of his teaching. I have placed Steve’s direct words in quotes.
- Community is not for girls. Don’t here what Steve is not saying. Very often community is percieved as a feminine practice. Its where you get in touch with your emotions, where you go around affirming one another, touchy-feely. But this is not biblical community. True community is a response to the Jesus who is Lord. The true Jesus is neither anemic nor hypermasculine, atrophying in weakness or bulging in strength. He is the Lord who “lived our life, died our death and rose as the first fruits of the new creation” and is gathering a community of grace that is to be a foretaste of eternity. As that community of grace, we need to look to Jesus as the center of community, who lives in us and reigns over us, compelling us to be a community that speaks the truth in love, not merely swaps emotions or confessions. Community is for Jesus.
- Just because we have communities that are honest and open about their sin doesnt mean we have gospel-centered communities. We may very well have communities that mistake confessing sin for living in the gospel. Confessing our sin in community is only part of the task of living in the gospel together. We mustnt linger there but complete the process through repentance and faith in Jesus. Confession must lead to repentance and faith, not under the weight of legalistic demands but as a response to how ravishing Jesus us. We need to lead our communities into seeing the beauty and glory of Jesus and allowing that to motivate true change, true repentance, such that we say: “Oh, brothers and sisters I see how sweet and ravishing Jesus is and I want you to pray for me in ______, hold me accountable and prod me to live in the gospel not in _____.
Look for the forthcoming video and audio on this Total Church Community Training on Resurgence and Acts 29 blog.
During the Total Church Conference, Steve Timmis shared that The Crowded House does church discipline without church membership. They advocate a culture of “gospeling” that promotes Jesus-centered discipline in little ways throughout the week. Apparently, this happens in their house church communities quite often.
He shared a story of a young woman who called him on the carpet for being impatient and touchy with someone on the telephone. He suggested that, done respectfully, this kind of “church discipline” should be normative in churches. Moreover, he argued that, if this church discipline method was normative, bigger church discipline issues could more easily be avoided. Provided that this is a gospel-centered phenomenon, I see some merit in it; however, I’m not quite ready to jettison church membership. Are you? Why or why not?
For more see the recent 9 Marks interview with Steve.