Happy Thanksgiving

As we head into Thanksgiving, it’s helpful to remember that gratitude is not a feeling. It’s a choice. At its core, thankfulness is not an emotional response to our circumstances, it’s a considered response to God. Gratitude is less something we stumble into and more something we lead our hearts into experiencing. Gratitude is less about what’s going on in our lives and more about our outlook on all of life.

Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.

James 1:17

When we choose to be thankful, we are intentionally reminding ourselves that our lives are a gift of God’s grace. From spouses, to kids, to warm beds, good coffee, and crisp fall mornings. It’s all a gift. And, ultimately, the greatest gift God gives us is Himself.

Thanksgiving is possible not because everything goes perfectly but because God is present. The Spirit of God is within us— nearer to us than our own breath. It is a discipline to choose to stitch our days together with the thread of gratitude. But the decision to do so is guaranteed to stitch us closer to God.

Adele Calhoun, Spiritual Disciplines Handbook: Practices That Transform Us

Some of us are headed into a holiday that will make it especially easy to be grateful – family, friends, football, and a huge meal. You’re basically living a Hallmark movie these next few days. Great! You shouldn’t feel bad about that. You also shouldn’t settle for it. Reach for something better – a heart that is tuned to the melody of gift and grace.

Some of us are headed into a holiday that will make it a little harder to be grateful – grieving lost loved ones, working on the holiday, being alone, or confronting the painful realities of family. I get it and I’m sorry. But you don’t need to write off Thanksgiving. Ironically, you might be most likely to discover the thread of true gratitude.

My prayer for all of us is that we walk into this holiday with intentionality. What a gift to have space to contemplate the love, power, and presence of God in our lives. May the Lord be near and lead us all to a deeper awareness of just how much we have to be thankful for in this season.

Photo by Pro Church Media on Unsplash

A New and Different Confidence

It takes a lot of confidence to be a leader – confidence in who you are, in your ideas, and your ability to bring people together in the pursuit of common goals. Sadly, many leaders anchor their confidence in the wrong places. Some of us look to our personality, others to our education, some to our achievements, and others to our abilities. While there is nothing inherently wrong with any of that, there is a troubling common denominator. Ourselves.

Even when it comes to leadership development in the church, much of what we do is designed to increase our confidence in ourselves. We learn how to lead better meetings, preach better sermons, cast more compelling vision, and design more innovative ministries. Again, nothing wrong with that. Leaders who don’t know what they’re doing hurt a lot of people. So we should develop competence.

We just need to be aware that while we are working to develop competence, God is also working to develop brokenness.

“It is doubtful whether God can bless a man greatly until he has hurt him deeply.”

AW Tozer

We see this time and again in Scripture, with nearly every great leader in the Bible. Consider three quick examples. Moses spends 40 years in exile before he is called to lead the Israelites out of slavery in Egypt. David is tormented by Saul before he one day takes his place on the throne of Israel. Paul needed to be knocked to the ground before God could lift him up as a leader in the church.

Brokenness teaches us a new and different kind of confidence – a confidence rooted not in ourselves but in God’s love, character, promises, and purpose. Confidence rooted in God is noticeably different from confidence rooted in ourselves. Ego is replaced with humility. Competition is replaced by collaboration. Envy is replaced by celebration. Fear is replaced with courage. Insecurity is replaced by trust.

This confidence in God is what we need to aim for as followers of Jesus. Yes, pursue competence. But don’t fear brokenness. God is using both to prepare the kind of leaders His church desperately needs.

Photo by Brett Jordan on Unsplash

Are You Growing Spiritually?

If you’ve ever been to Chincoteague Island in southeastern Virginia, you’ve probably seen these chairs – people down there seem mildly obsessed with them (in a good way!). They’re also a really good reminder for us as we evaluate our own spiritual growth.

Now the goal of our instruction is love that comes from a pure heart, a good conscience, and a sincere faith.

1 Timothy 1:5 (CSB)

Paul was pretty clear that the goal of his preaching, pastoring, and church planting was to help people grow into the image and likeness of the God who is love. In other words, spiritual maturity is not measured primarily in terms of biblical knowledge acquired, dollars given, or hours served. All of those are important components of our discipleship but anything in our lives that is not rooted in love is not from God.

If I speak human or angelic tongues but do not have love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith so that I can move mountains but do not have love, I am nothing. And if I give away all my possessions, and if I give over my body in order to boast but do not have love, I gain nothing.

1 Corinthians 13:1-3 (CSB)

So, when you’re trying to figure out if you’re growing spiritually or not, make love the litmus test. If you’re becoming a more loving person (in ways defined by and motivated by the love of God as revealed in the gospel), you’re growing. If people aren’t experiencing you as a more loving person, you’re not growing. And we don’t need to figure out what love looks like. Paul’s got that one covered as well.

Love is patient, love is kind. Love does not envy, is not boastful, is not arrogant, is not rude, is not self-seeking, is not irritable, and does not keep a record of wrongs. Love finds no joy in unrighteousness but rejoices in the truth. It bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.

1 Corinthians 13:4-7 (CSB)

If we want to get a handle on our level of spiritual growth, we need to start asking each other better questions. Wouldn’t it be great to sit down with a trusted friend and process some of these questions that help us assess if we’re becoming more loving people?

  • Am I becoming more patient with_______ (spouse, kids, co-workers, hard to love people, parents?)
  • Am I increasingly able to celebrate the success of others?
  • Where am I unwilling to forgive? Why am I still holding that person’s sin against them?
  • Am I tempted to give up on a friendship just because things have gotten hard?
  • Am I finding enough joy in Christ to fight the fleeting pleasures of sin?

The Importance of Rhythms


Fall is, without a doubt, my favorite season. It’s also a beautiful reminder of the importance of rhythms in our lives. Fall only makes sense if we also know the heat of seemingly endless summer days, the harsh beauty of winter, and the vibrancy of spring. If all we knew was fall, autumn would lose its wonder. Ultimately, it’s the rhythm of all the seasons that I really cherish.

When we look at creation, we realize rhythm is essential to God’s design for the world – from seasons, to ocean tides, to sunrise and sunset, there is a rhythmic interplay that permeates the natural world. The same is true for us, the very best of God’s creation. We need to live our lives with defined rhythms – daily, weekly, and seasonally – if we’re going to thrive.

Rhythm isn’t about wild fluctuation between extremes. It’s about a gentle, steady, and life-giving back and forth. Rhythms aren’t about compensating for the mistakes and excesseses of the past season. They are about being present to the possibilities of this season. Rhythms aren’t about forcing us to do what we don’t want to do. They’re about helping us find the life we’re longing to experience.

When I cooperate with three essential rhythms, I’m the best version of myself.

Work/Rest

In many ways, this is the foundational rhythm that shapes each of our days.

It’s about enjoying breakfast with my family before we head off into the world. It’s about working hard on things that really matter, fighting distraction, and leaning into the roles God is asking me to play in life. It’s about stewarding my time so that I can power down my computer, put my phone on do not disturb, and have dinner with my family. And it’s about Sabbath, voluntarily fasting from productivity for 24 hours each week.

The trick for me is remembering that rest isn’t just a productivity hack, it’s an essential rhythm to our life with God. Our minds, bodies, and souls need to power down so they can be renewed and replenished. Ultimately, rest is about trust. Do we trust God enough to turn our phones off and go for a hike?

We also need to remember that work isn’t a curse, it’s a gift. We are created to do meaningful work – a life of laziness or leisure is never going to bring joy either. We need to get our hands dirty, our minds engaged, and our bodies tired. Those are also essential elements for our thriving.

Community/Solitude

Here’s the key point on this one: We ALL need BOTH, whether you’re an introvert or an extrovert. Yes, we all probably get more energy from one than the other but we ALL need BOTH. Community Groups are for introverts and silence and solitude is for extroverts!

At Restoration City, we talk a lot about community because spiritual formation is ultimately a relational process. We grow and change in community. In order to thrive, we need to be known by a close circle of friends and we need to invest the time in getting to know a close circle of friends. But we also need to be alone with God. There’s a reason Bonhoeffer devotes an entire chapter to silence and solitude in his classic book on community, Life Together. He begins the chapter with this thought:

Let him who cannot be alone beware of community. He will only do harm to himself and to the community. Alone you stood before God when he called you; alone you had to answer that call; alone you had to struggle and pray; and alone you will die and give an account to God. You cannot escape from yourself; for God has singled you out. If you refuse to be alone you are rejecting Christ’s call to you, and you can have no part in the community of those who are called.

Bonhoeffer, Life Together, Chapter 3

Being alone with God looks different for each of us in different seasons of life but we must learn to live in a rhythm of community and solitude.

Contemplation/Action

I know this sounds a lot like the work/rest rhythm but it’s not. This rhythm isn’t about how we organize our days, weeks, or months. It’s about how we make sense of major seasons of our lives.

For example, I think of 2019-2021 as an extended season of action in my life. I was pastoring a church, finishing up a degree, raising three small kids, and doing all of that in the upheaval of a global pandemic. While I tried to maintain rhythms of rest and solitude, I knew that I was in a season marked by a lot of activity. I wasn’t necessarily asking as many big picture questions. I was more tactical, trying to figure out what we needed to do to get through each fresh crisis.

But then in February of 2022, things began to shift. I was on a short retreat with a good friend and felt the Lord telling me I was headed into a season of contemplation. I needed to rethink some major things in my life – deeper clarity on vocation, fresh vision for the church, a new perspective on some key relationships, and a deeper trust in God. It’s only been very recently that I’ve felt the pendulum start to swing towards a season of action where I get to bring some of what I’ve learned over the past months to life.

Bottom line: you were created to live in rhythm. The goal is not to impose artificial rhythms on your life but rather to unearth the rhythms that are in your soul and cooperate with them. Rhythms ultimately shape our calendars but that’s not where they start. They start by listening to our souls.

So, what does your soul need in this season?

Stand Out From The Crowd

In last Sunday’s sermon, I shared a quote from RT France that I haven’t been able to get out of my mind since I first read it. In his commentary on Matthew, France calls us to adopt “the distinctive lifestyle of disciples.” This phrase is a wonderful reminder that, as followers of Jesus, we’re meant to stand out from the crowd – not to be conformed to the pattern of this world, as Paul would say it. (Romans 12:1) Our lives should be visibly different because we’ve been brought from spiritual death to spiritual life by the grace of God. (Ephesians 2:5) And this distinctiveness should be a lifestyle for us, not just an occasional moment of spiritual courage.

It’s a beautiful vision for our lives but living it out is really hard; in fact, it’s impossible without the power of the Spirit in our lives. But we need to rely on that Spirit in different ways in different seasons of our lives. While we’re all in different places and have different needs, here’s how I’ve seen this play out in the seasons of my life and in the lives of the people I pastor.

Courage

From our late teens to our mid 30’s, it takes a lot of courage to adopt the distinctive lifestyle of a disciple. It feels like the teachings of Jesus and your friend’s plans for the weekend are in constant conflict. People think you’re weird because you don’t live with your girlfriend, aren’t diving into the hookup scene, and stay under control at happy hour. And they’re more than happy to share their opinions about you and your distinct lifestyle, sometimes with you and sometimes behind your back. Some days you wonder if following Jesus is worth it. Would life be better if you eased up on the Jesus stuff and just went with the flow? I get it. I’ve been there. And I’ve given in to the temptation. But I was always left with the sense that I had traded true joy for fleeting pleasure, that I had turned my back on the life I wanted, and the One who gave me life.

Creativity

Somewhere around our mid-30’s, we start to chill out a bit, follower of Christ or not. Admittedly, this is more true for some than others but we all agree that a 40 year old trying to live like a 20 year old is a sad sight. Along the way, those of us who follow Jesus start to notice that the distinction between our lives and the lives of our non-Christian friends is a little less clear. Both single and married adults experience this but it seems to be most prevalent in married adults with children. Don’t get me wrong, the distinct lifestyle of a disciple still takes courage but it also takes a lot of creativity. Here are some questions I’m wrestling with as someone right in the middle of this season of life:

  • How does the gospel shape the way I honor and care for my body?
  • Am I showing my kids that the best things in life aren’t watched on a screen?
  • Are we willing to say no to the onslaught of playdates, birthday parties, activities, practices, and games that can dominate this season of life? More importantly, are we giving our kids a compelling why for the choices we’re making – time with family, time to rest, time for church?
  • Am I open to new experiences and different points of view? Am I still learning?
  • When was the last time we decided not to purchase something so that we could use the money to fund ministry?
  • How do we keep the romance in marriage so that our kids grow up wanting to be married, not afraid of it?
  • Are we still willing to take risks as a family? Especially with our finances – do we settle for the safety of giving or reach for the risk of generosity?
  • Do my neighbors see me as the kind of guy who is available for a meaningful conversation if they wanted to have one?
  • How do I treat my kid’s teachers, coaches, and the volunteers at RCCKids? Do I come off as entitled and disappointed or grateful?

Honestly, I love this season. But I also know how easy it is to drift into complacency. After all, I’m not doing anything all that bad! Fight that, stay fresh, get creative!

Love

Somewhere in our mid-50’s, we start to turn another corner. From what I can tell, this one is about love – whether or not love is the controlling motivation of our hearts. This season is all about what you chose to do when you don’t have to do anything. You’re less controlled by kids schedules, boss’ expectations, and financial pressure (ideally…I know that’s not true for everyone). So, what are you going to do with your life now that you don’t have to do anything with your life?

The distinctive lifestyle of a disciple is never easy. Courage, creativity, and love are always going to be in the mix, just to varying degrees. And Jesus is always going to be worth it, not in varying degrees but infinitely so.

Relational Pain of Ministry, Part 2

We often talk about the physical suffering and persecution the apostle Paul endured over the course of his ministry. Sadly, we tend to minimize or ignore the emotional and relational pain Paul experienced. That leaves us with this sense that if we haven’t been beaten for the gospel this week, we really haven’t been all that wounded. But our hearts and the Scripture tell a very different story. Yes, Paul is very specific about some of the physical suffering and persecution he endured (go read 2 Corinthians 11:24-28). But, as we talked about in the last post, Paul is equally specific in 2 Timothy about the emotional and relational pain he experienced as a missionary, church planter, and pastor.

The pain Paul experienced leaves me asking a very basic question – how in the world did Paul keep going? Why didn’t he quit and just go back to being a member of the Roman upper class? That thought must have crossed his mind. He’s beaten by his enemies and deserted by his friends. He’s got people outside of the church throwing stones at him and people inside the church telling lies about him. It’s a mess. Yet, he still keeps going. How does he do it?

If you’ve served in ministry for any period of time, you know this is more than an academic or theoretical question. This is real. You pour your heart into leading a team at church and people bail on you. You love and serve people in your Community Group and then they ghost you. You mentor a newer Christian and they walk away from you over a minor disagreement. You preach your heart out and people find a new church because they want the sermon to be more…well, the answers to that one vary!

Fortunately, when it comes to how Paul endured, we’re not left guessing. If we jump back to 2 Timothy, we see that Paul keeps going for at least two reasons. I believe there are more but these are the two he highlights in this letter:

Strength From God

But the Lord stood by me and strengthened me, so that through me the message might be fully proclaimed and all the Gentiles might hear it. So I was rescued from the lion’s mouth. - 2 Timothy 4:17 

Paul’s knowledge of God wasn’t just theological, it was relational. God was an actual source of strength for Paul, who knew how to open the brokenness and woundedness of his heart to the healing and strengthening touch of God. Paul knew what it was to pour out His heart to God and allow the Spirit to make the love of God real in his soul. He didn’t just talk about God as a source of strength, He experienced God as a source of strength. There’s a huge difference between the two!

Encouragement From Others

We might be tempted to think 2 Timothy is one long venting session about all the difficult people who were making Paul’s life so hard. But that’s not at all the case. There are plenty of other names in 2 Timothy – and Paul recalls so many of them with tender fondness:

May the Lord grant mercy to the household of Onesiphorus, for he often refreshed me and was not ashamed of my chains - 2 Timothy 1:16

Luke alone is with me. Get Mark and bring him with you, for he is very useful to me for ministry. - 2 Timothy 4:11

Tychicus I have sent to Ephesus. - 2 Timothy 4:12

Greet Prisca and Aquila, and the household of Onesiphorus.  Erastus remained at Corinth, and I left Trophimus, who was ill, at Miletus.  Do your best to come before winter. Eubulus sends greetings to you, as do Pudens and Linus and Claudia and all the brothers. - 2 Timothy 4:19-22

Yes, community is risky. Today’s Onesiphorus can become tomorrow’s Demas. But Paul didn’t make the mistake of withdrawing into isolation. He knew community was a risk but he was also deeply convinced it was a risk worth taking. He knew he needed others to stay in the game for the long haul.

Putting It All Together

In 2 Timothy, Paul is not only showing us that ministry is filled with highs and lows but he is also showing us how to engage those realities in a way that enhances our endurance. If you read all the way through 2 TImothy, you will see how Paul juxtaposes verses about relational and emotional pain with verses about the faithfulness of God and his friends. Paul almost always acknowledges the relational pain of ministry first but then almost immediately follows it with a reminder of how he has been strengthened and encouraged. The order matters. A lot!

Paul is able to talk honestly about his pain and to grieve his losses. But he doesn’t stop there and allow himself to believe that everything is falling apart around him. He consciously brings himself (and us) back to the faithfulness of God and the blessings of community. We need to do the same – embrace honesty but also learn how to lead our hearts to hope in the power of God and the goodness of community.

Relational Pain of Ministry, Part 1

I take a lot of comfort from the fact that the apostle Paul was no stranger to the relational pain of ministry. Things didn’t always go well for him. Paul often felt alone, abandoned, rejected, and hurt by the people he felt called to love and serve. Look at how honest he is about the relational pain of ministry is 2 Timothy.

You are aware that all who are in Asia turned away from me, among whom are Phygelus and Hermogenes. (2 Timothy 1:15)

But avoid irreverent babble, for it will lead people into more and more ungodliness, and their talk will spread like gangrene. Among them are Hymenaeus and Philetus, who have swerved from the truth  (2 Timothy 2:16-18) 

For Demas, in love with this present world, has deserted me and gone to Thessalonica. Crescens has gone to Galatia, Titus to Dalmatia.  (2 Timothy 4:10) 

Alexander the coppersmith did me great harm; the Lord will repay him according to his deeds. Beware of him yourself, for he strongly opposed our message.  (2 Timothy 4:14-15) 

At my first defense no one came to stand by me, but all deserted me. May it not be charged against them! (2 Timothy 4:16) 

That’s a lot of hurt in one letter!

In the next post, we’ll talk about how Paul was able to keep going despite all of the relational pain of ministry. But, for today, I want to make one simple observation – Paul is able to talk about the relational pain of ministry without any shame. He isn’t trying to sweep this under the rug, gloss over it, deny his emotions, or explain it all away. He’s starkly realistic and at times shockingly willing to use real names. He doesn’t hide behind generalities and spiritual platitudes. Demas deserted him. Alexander did him a lot of harm. Hymenaeus and Philetus allowed gossip to morph into heresy. Phygelus and Hermogenes were out (and they obviously took a lot of people with them!). He was on trial for the gospel and no one showed up to offer encouragement.

While Paul no doubt felt sadness and hurt over these losses and woundings, he didn’t feel shame. He didn’t make the automatic assumption that he did something wrong, that he was a failure, that he never should have become an apostle, that he’s the problem, that he should just quit. In other words, he didn’t interpret the actions of others exclusively through the lens of his personal failure. He was aware that there’s always more to the story and he was aware of his weaknesses and shortcomings as a leader. He was able to bring his sin and the sin of others to God in a way that liberated his soul from shame.

Do I think we need to be careful not to abuse this idea as leaders? Yes, when people leave our churches, community groups, and ministry teams, we should be willing to ask questions about how we could have done better, about ways we could have served them better, about ways we need to grow. The point of what Paul is sharing here is not to give pastors, elders, and leaders in the church license to constantly blame others.

The point is to remind us that relational pain is part of ministry and we can talk about it without shame. We can talk about it in ways that are honest, specific, and ultimately redemptive. We’ll do more of that in the next post. But for today, here are a few questions that might be helpful to process in your journal or with a close friend:

  • When have you felt the relational pain of ministry? Describe the hurt you felt.
  • What story did you tell yourself to make sense of the pain you were feeling?
  • Was your sense of pain also accompanied by a sense of shame or guilt? How so?
  • Who are you able to process the relational pain of ministry with on a regular basis? Who are some of the people that could become these kinds of friends?

Photo by Sasha Freemind on Unsplash

What Is God Doing, Right Now?

I just recorded a quick video devotional for our elder team as we head into our monthly meeting this weekend. I had some things I wanted to share with them from my heart, from God’s Word, and from some recent experiences we’ve had as a team shepherding a local church. By the grace of God, I think it was helpful and I pray they will share my excitement for what I think God is saying to us through His Word.

There was only one thing wrong with the whole experience – it wasn’t anywhere on my list of things to do this morning!

I came into the day with a meticulously crafted plan for how I was going to use this morning and what I needed to get done. It was all good stuff (and I did get a decent amount of it done), however, this video wasn’t on the list. But as I sat here trying to work on other things, my mind kept coming back to this desire to share with our elders. I found myself putting a devotional together in my head. I found myself getting excited about recording something simply to bless and encourage a small team that means a great deal to me. Despite all that, I initially fought against all of this as a distraction from what I needed to be doing – it wasn’t on the list!! Sure, it was a good idea but it was something I could schedule for another time this week.

Ultimately, I felt this little prompting in my heart to abandon my plan and record the video. That prompting was followed by a deeper question – do you want to join God in what He’s doing this morning or do your own thing without God?

It was a pretty stark choice – plow through my list in my strength or cooperate with what God was intending to do in my life. Fortunately, in this instance I made the right choice and decided to go with God. But that’s not always the case. I can be really guilty of ignoring what the Spirit is doing in the moment because of my preconceived plans and ideas.

That’s such a mistake, particularly for those of us in spiritual leadership. When God invites us to walk by the Spirit (Galatians 5:16), be led by the Spirit (Romans 8:14), and keep in step with the Spirit (Galatians 5:25), He envisions us living with sensitivity and submission to what the Spirit is doing in our lives moment by moment. The question isn’t just “what is God doing in the world today” but “what is God doing in my life, right now?” It turns out the Spirit is somewhat unpredictable and often does things I don’t expect. But life is found in getting on board with what He is actually doing, not what I thought He would be doing!

So, don’t miss out on the adventure of following God today because you’re so locked up in your plans that you miss His still, small voice.

Where Is Your God?

This Sunday, we’re starting a new series of messages at Restoration City dealing with the topic of anxiety. Matthew 6:25-34 is up next in our study of the Sermon on the Mount but it didn’t feel right to spend only one week discussing Jesus’ teaching on worry and anxiety. One, doing so would run the risk of oversimplifying the issue. I think we all need more than, “Jesus tells us not to worry so you should really stop worrying.” Two, doing so would run the risk of ignoring what a massive issue anxiety is for so many of us. I know this is one of the biggest challenges people in our church struggle with on a daily basis. I also know what a massive issue this is for so many in our city who are not yet following Jesus.

So, we’re going to slow down and devote the next four weeks to understanding how Jesus leads us out of anxiety. Here’s what I can tell you about the series:

  • We’re going to talk about anxiety as a physical, psychological, and spiritual issue. Too often the church ignores the physical and psychological. That’s not helpful. At the same time, our anxiety has deep spiritual roots and lasting change requires bringing God into the conversation. We’re going to take a holistic approach.
  • We’re going to talk about anxiety in a way that doesn’t provoke guilt or shame. There isn’t going to be a hint of, “If you were a better Christian, you wouldn’t be so anxious.” We can talk about deepening our faith in Jesus and the gospel without heaping on a bunch of shame, which only makes the problem worse.
  • The goal is to move together as a community on a path that actually reduces our anxiety. We don’t just want to learn more; we want to trust God for real growth and change.
  • These are a great four weeks to invite family, friends, co-workers, and neighbors. We have a chance to help a lot of people. Let’s not miss it.

So, I hope you’ll join us in person or online for all four weeks of this series.

But I want to ask you to do much more than just show up. I want to ask you to pray with me that God will do a powerful work through our church in the next four weeks. I’m praying we see people come to faith in Jesus, embrace vulnerability in community, take risks on the journey towards healing, and experience real freedom from anxiety. I know God is able to do it but let’s not trust in our power – let’s lean in to Him and His grace and see what He can do in His power!

Mission Requires Community

I can’t wait for this Sunday at Restoration City. We’re going to do something really simple and really meaningful. After our weekly gathering is over, as many of us as possible are going to stick around to serve Gunston, the middle school we meet in every Sunday. They need some help getting the front entrance ready to welcome students for a new year and we’re going to do what we can – pull weeds, trim shrubs, etc… We’ll order lunch, have fun, and make a difference in the lives of the students who will show up next week. And, we’re going to be done by 1pm. It’s like a quick serving blitz.

Not only is this the kind of thing we should be doing as the church but it also helps illustrate a deeper point – community accelerates mission. Here’s what I mean: I think we’re all going to be shocked by just how much we can get done in 90 minutes! Because we’re all going to lean into this opportunity, we’re going to make a significant impact in a relatively short period of time. I pray we don’t miss the significance of that insight. Community accelerates mission.

Maybe even more accurately – mission requires community. When you read the pages of the New Testament, particularly the Book of Acts, you realize just how much the early church saw community as essential to God’s mission. Some people funded things, some preached, some waited tables, some cared for the sick, but everyone was involved. Nobody was foolish enough (or arrogant enough) to think they could make a major dent in the lostness and brokenness of the world by themselves. They knew that God’s mission required all of God’s people working together with the enabling power of God’s Spirit.

So, to be as specific and practical as possible, if you aren’t engaged in biblical community you aren’t as engaged in God’s mission as you could be. You’re missing out, the church is missing out, and the world is missing out.