Posted by: richard | 19 February, 2010

The Priority of people… people in relationships

This week we looked at Chapters 7 and 8 of Gospel-Centred Church.  We discussed the idea of church being people gathered together in God’s name, being nourished by teaching, fellowship, breaking bread and prayer; which lead inextricably to an outward (missional) thrust.

We spent some time discussing the question “what would change if we in Passion Fruit saw ourselves as a primary expression of church, rather than as a sub-set of ‘proper’ church?”  We all had various degrees of comfort with the idea, but it did seem that there was a suggestion that the former idea (primary expression) may lead to more mission focus than the secondary.

The Church Of England has this idea of a ‘mixed economy’ of churches where fresh expressions of church sit alongside traditional forms, mutually feeding and being fed by each other.  So it might not be a black and white decision, but it is worth giving some thought to the idea of what expression of church would lead to the most effective gospel ministry in our context.  Your thoughts please!

We then moved on to talking about how mission is long-term, low-key and relational; and of the idea of ‘intentional gospel-focus’: committing to building relationships, modelling the faith and talking about the Gospel as a natural part of conversation.

We tried to come up with some ideas of what this gospel intentionality would look like:

  • Praying through our agenda for the day, praying before lunch appointments, etc.?
  • Taking the same train each day?
  • Working in a coffee shop rather than in a closed office/home?

Here are some more ideas from Steve Timmis

  • … buying from local shops.
  • … frequenting a local coffee shop or pub.
  • … playing for a local sports team.
  • … always tipping generously in local restaurants.
  • … being the kind of neighbor everyone wants to have as a neighbor.
  • … volunteering at a local charity shop along with a couple of others from church.
  • … doing ordinary things in community.
  • … opening your home to, and sharing your food with others.
  • … walking the same route to work at the same time or catching the same train each day.
  • … we do EVERYTHING for the sake of the gospel!

Of Jeff Vanderstelt:

  • LISTEN: Part of our job is to listen well to the Word of God and the Spirit of God. We are good at talking to God but not listening to God. Scripture says where words are many, sin is not absent.
  • CELEBRATE: In every culture there are celebrations going on. Your job as a christian is to engage in the celebration with the people. We are to bring what is lacking.
  • BLESS: Bless your food. Physical hunger reminds us that we have a spiritual hunger for something external (God’s Word) to feed us daily.
  • EAT: Do what you already do but with gospel intentionality. You should be opening up your table regularly to those who don’t know Christ.
  • RECREATE: We should enjoy life and joyfully create and work as though its unto the Lord. What if Christians were the more creative, playful, and caring people in your community.

Or how about this list from Matt Swaney:

  • If I am going to watch football for example I could just do it by myself. But instead I  will try and do it with someone else that I would like to build a relationship with.
  • If I am going to the park on a walk I will go with someone and I will choose to talk about something encouraging.
  • If I am working out at the gym I will not wear earphones because I want to be accessible for a conversation with someone.
  • The park, gym, and football are all normal things I am already doing. But now I am living out the gospel in these ordinary life situations. I am bringing the gospel to bear in the nooks and crannies of my everyday life. We are taking what we ORDINARILY do and making it PURPOSEFUL.

Your thoughts on these would be welcome.  Let’s talk more about it next week too…. we need to roll up our sleeves and do this stuff!

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