No really- I want to start talking with you all, and I want to ask you all to talk back if you are willing.
Starting now, every Friday on the blog, I am going to post a question, a thought, or a passage from the Bible or a book I am reading and I want to talk about it. I want dialogue. I want to hear your opinions, your thoughts, your suggestions, your interpretations, and so forth. I have made it so all people can publish a comment on the blog- even if they are not a follower or blogger subscriber. So you can comment publically below, or reply privately via email if you wish: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Either way, if you are willing, I would love to hear from you. Living in a majority world county with minimal people around who speak my language or understand the culture I was raised in, I have a lot of time to think to myself. That is great because I love having personal study, but I also need a community of people to process my readings, my life, and my feelings with.
This blog, in many ways, has served as an outlet for me to verbally express my journey as a Christian, Missionary, and Administrator of an orphanage. I recently read through some of my older blogs and the succession of my faith and my maturity here in Haiti has been incredible to say the least. Reading the blogs in order, I have been able to revisit my growth and how God is gradually shaping me into the humble servant He desires me to become. Looking back, I don’t always agree with the things I have previously said. God has opened my eyes to many truths and sometimes I have written before receiving the wisdom. But I am beyond thankful that God has given me the gift and love of writing and even more so- I am thankful that He has given me people like you to read what I have to say and join me on this journey in Haiti. I thank you all for taking time out of your day to read what is typically all jumbled up in my head. Your comments, encouragement, and support of my blog have meant so much to me. But now, I am ready to not only talk but to listen as well.
So here we go…
Let’s Talk Friday #1 has officially begun!
When Hunter and I started dated we argued all the time! Although we were both raised in very conservative Christian homes, in the same very conservative church background, and even in the same fairly conservative part of the country our faiths clashed in more ways than one. And Jesus, well, let’s just say we disagreed about Him the most.
I don’t remember many specifics about our arguing, but there is one comment Hunter made at some point early on that I will never forget. Reflecting on his life now…he cringes as I recite what he said. But regardless, he has given me permission to quote him.
“I don’t know if we have to live exactly like Jesus,” Hunter said as he interrupted my long overdrawn rant on radical discipleship. “You know, Jesus lived in a different time and in a different culture. And if God has blessed us to be in a position where we can live out the American Dream then I think we should. So dropping everything and being really radical like Jesus is not something I necessarily think we need to do to be a follow of Christ,” (Hunter Kittrell, 2005)
It’s funny how drastically God can change someone’s heart. Now, seven years later, Hunter has put the American Dream on hold, literally dropped everything, and was radical enough to follow Jesus to Haiti.
But this thought, that surely we aren’t required to actually live a life like Jesus, has haunted me. Personally, I want to live like Him. Sure, it is scary and hard, but I love Him too much not to try.
This thought has led me to a number of amazing books by amazing people who want to live like Jesus too. The one I am reading now is called, AND: The Gathered and Scattered Church by Hugh Halter and Matt Smay. I am only three chapters in but it is already teaching me so much.
So for today’s Let’s Talk Friday I want to quote a passage from the book and hear your thoughts. At this point in the book, Halter is giving a scenario of a church in its beginning stages- trying to figure out how to minister to others in their community Jesus style. Below is their conversation:
“One says, ‘Okay, I noticed that Jesus did a lot of teaching, healing, and other impressive acts and it drew a lot of attention, so people follow him.’
“Quickly, a sarcastic response returns, ‘Oh, that’s encouraging to find out. Let’s just start doing miracles.’
“Another says, ‘I saw that Jesus spent a lot of time at people’s homes, at parties, and hanging out in well-known public places.’
“And another says, ‘It seems obvious that Jesus spent time away from the crowds, spending time with a few leaders, and other times he was just praying,’
“Yet another speaks up, ‘Interestingly, he still spent time in the churches or synagogues, trying to change people’s minds about what true religion was.’
“As the leader, you feel some teacher as you try to pull everyone together. Certainly, if you isolated any one of these aspects, you could from a pretty strong argument for starting a church with almost any focus or strategy.
“The last comment that is shared comes from you least mature person. She slowly raises her hand and says, ‘I’m not sure if this really means anything, and I don’t know much about the Bible, but I tried to find Scriptures where Jesus was talking about how to start a church or grow a church. I thought that if church is so important, there ought to be more info on It in the Bible. But I couldn’t find anything specific at all. I read all four gospels and the only time Jesus even mentions the church is when he’s talking to Peter about his leadership. I know that doesn’t really help, but I thought it was interesting that in all of his ministry, teaching, and preaching Jesus never really talking about the church. All the talking about was the kingdom-it seems like his crowd just kind of grew on its own. Oh..and I had one more thought, or actually a question. Why do you think Jesus lived like a normal person for thirty years before he even got intentional about drawing a crowd? Maybe there’s something to this part of the story we don’t talk much about. Jesus doesn’t really seem like much of a church planter to me. He seems more like…I don’t know…
“‘A missionary,’ someone excitedly completes her thoughts.
“‘Hmmm,’ you think to yourself, ‘Jesus the missionary. Now that’s an interesting thought. Why don’t we consider a strategy based more around missionary activities than about creating church activities?’
“We play with this scenario quite a bit with leaders because the only way to move toward the AND is to begin to think and act like a missionary.
“Missional isn’t a form of church. It’s a label we give to the qualitative or descriptive aspect of how a church actually lives. It’s about how much like Jesus those people become and how much they influence, woo, and transform the culture in which they are placed. In other words, how ‘missional’ you are is largely determined by the extent to which your people model the life, activities, and words of Jesus.” ( Halter, 51-52)
Now, Let’s Talk.
1. What ways do you see Jesus ministering to others in the scriptures?
2. What ways do you think the church needs to model Jesus’ ministry?
3. What are some examples you have of churches correctly modeling the “life, activities, and words of Jesus?”
Can’t wait to hear from you!