Monday, May 26, 2014

Sully Notes 10 | Family on Mission: Integrating Discipleship into the Fabric of Our Everyday Lives Part 1 of 3

Emmaus City Church Worcester MA Soma Acts 29 Christian Reformed Missional Community Network Sully Notes 10 Part 1

Sully Notes 10: Books in 25 minutes or less

Sully Notes are meant to provide you with direct quotes from some books I've read in the last year, so you can get a taste of the overall theme of the book and then begin to chew on what your life might look like if you applied what you read. 

Here are links to the previous Sully Notes books:

Emmaus City Church Family of Missionary Servants Soma Acts 29 Christian Reformed Worcester MA Church Plant Family on Mission Part 1This week's Notes are the beginning of a string of 3 Sully Notes all connected with 3DM and Missional Communities. The three books are:

We're going to begin with Part 1 of Mike and Sally Breen's Family on Mission: Integrating Discipleship into the Fabric of Our Everyday Lives. In following God's leading for Emmaus City to be a network of missional communities, this book provides many of the foundations as to why we feel God is leading us this way based on who He is, who He has made us to be, and how is making us more like Jesus.

Family on Mission | Sully Notes 10: Part 1 of 3

Introduction: Why Family on Mission?

“ ... the thing about music that's easiest to learn is the
structure  which notes to play, how long to play them, when to rest. What's more difficult is learning the texture of music  the dynamics of playing loudly or softly, using a crescendo or decrescendo, finding the right tone and pace. The structure often comes first, but even when a song is technically played correctly, it can still be a long way off from an enjoyable piece of music. The texture is what makes the structure work as a piece of art. ... Think about the human body. The skeletal structure is absolutely key to making the body work, but nobody wants to be hugged by a skeleton. Just imagine the awkward angularity of two skeletons trying to hug, or shake hands, or do anything human, really. We need the texture of muscle, ligament, tendon, and skin if we are to interact as humans. Structure without texture doesn't work. Structure and texture are intended to work together.” – pg. i
"What we are calling family on mission is the texture of discipleship that allows the structure to do its job. ...  Family on mission is how we stop thinking of discipleship as a task that we do and start living out discipleship as a way that we are. ... Without the 'soft tissue' of a family on mission, this discipleship stuff will be just another program we'll forget about in a few months, and mission will be just another activity we need to fit into our already busy schedule. If we're going to make disciples and move out in mission, we need to go from managing boundaries between the compartments of our lives to integrating family and mission into one life, a cohesive framework and fabric that empowers a culture of discipleship and mission, not just occasional events and periodic programs.” – pg. ii

Chapter 1 Our Journey to Family on Mission // Sally Writes:

“It seemed like it was always one or the other; you could have a great ministry, or you could have a great family, but you couldn't have both. It was one or the other: family or mission. You had to sacrifice one if you wanted the other to thrive. And since being a pastor seemed like a godly calling, maybe having a terrible family life was just part of the package. Others we saw chose family over mission. They would abandon all their dreams of wider mission and ministry so they could have a functional family. We desperately wanted to find out if there was another option.” – pg. 3 

“So we were doing family and mission, looking confident and competent, not sacrificing one for the other, accomplishing both. It was fine for a while, not an absolute disaster or anything, and far better than doing family OR mission. But we were discovering that family AND mission is an utterly exhausting way to function. Trying to keep everything in its own container, managing the boundaries between ministry and family all the time, had become unsustainable for us. ... it was so, so tiring. We found that we were expending so much energy managing boundaries that we weren't able to do other important things, like making disciples, which was the call we had both received at the beginning of our adventure together. ... We were beginning to realize that you can't make disciples if you're constantly managing boundaries.” – pg. 6

" ... we began to wonder, 'What would happen if we invited more people into our lives?' Not inviting more people over to entertain them, but simply inviting them into what we were already doing to help us. At first it did seem a little counter-intuitive to invite more people into our already busy lives. ... But we had a hunch that it might just be the answer. So we tried it. We began inviting people into everything, into the mealtimes and into the mission. We included more people in our life, to help us in the little things and the big things, in our family and in our mission. ... We just included them when grocery shopping and folding laundry and praying for the sick. We asked them to babysit our kids, help them with their homework, do administrative tasks ... Much to our amazement, what we found was that none of them were put off by the small, loud children who came as part of the package. They actually loved the normality and the noise of it all. ... It seemed that when we moved as a group, we were actually more effective in our family stuff and our mission! To top it all off, because people were now coming along with us in our normal everyday lives, we had ample time to actually disciple them. ... We forgot to manage margins, and our boundaries were technically 'broken,' but we were thriving in a way we hadn't experienced before. I realized I no longer watched the clock or counted the hours. I no longer tried to make sure the 'family' and the 'mission' columns added up. I no longer felt like a bystander of the mission. And Mike felt like he had more time with the family. We were no longer managing boundaries and margins because people were simply with us in all of life, helping us with the things we needed help with (which was a lot of things, by the way!). Our ministry and family were thriving in new ways because there were simply more hands to do the work and more giftedness for the tasks at hand, and we were actually investing in people to develop them as disciples of Jesus. We had stumbled upon a new way of functioning." – pgs. 7-8

"As these people simply helped us do our life together, we shared whatever wisdom we had somehow gained in our journey, and we began to disciple them. We didn't get them into an extensive program in church  we simply discipled them 'along the way,' over meals, family prayers, laundry, carpooling, and bedtime stories. The remarkable thing is that they stayed around. They simply became part of our family! Our little nuclear family was becoming an extended family. Some of them are still with us. We were learning what it looked like to be a family ON mission. At the beginning, we had simply said, 'Come walk with us. Sometimes we'll be moving fast, so you may have to run at times, but you're welcome to come with us.' No one seemed to mind when we had to run. We were moving as a pack, moving forward, gathering up others as we traveled toward what God had called us to do. Making disciples this way led us to discover Family on Mission. What it means is that when we move forward in mission, we do it together if at all possible. Together with our kids, together with those we are discipling ... We're going to involve each other and our kids in anything and everything involving our life and mission." – pg. 8

"Our children have been raised with this. They know no other way. They know only how to be an extended family. They laugh about how the instinct in every situation is to always do it with others, to do it in community. When we need to go to the grocery store for a gallon of milk, we usually end up with a whole carload of people going, making it into an adventure. Our children did well in school by drawing on the combined skills and intelligence of those around them. ... We told them clearly that they didn't need to wait until they were adults to be part of what God had called us to do, that they were completely included and a vital part of now. And they thrived on that." – pg. 9

  • Family OR Mission crushes us, because we have to sacrifice one thing or the other, while both are necessary if we're going to live out the call of God.
  • Family AND Mission exhausts us, because we need to manage the boundaries between family and mission. Thus our family life never quite feels purposeful, and our mission life never quite feels natural.
  • Family ON Mission empowers us, because we learn to live an integrated life, moving forward in mission as a pack, as a covenant family with a kingdom mission.
Family on mission is for single people, divorced people, single parents, couples with no kids, couples with eight kids, empty nesters, teenagers and college students. We are all called to function as an integral member of some kind of Family on Mission because this is who God is. That's how Jesus (who was single, by the way) functioned. Our identity is deeply rooted in family because the basic nature of God is family." – pgs. 9-10 

Chapter 2 Longing for Family // Mike Writes:   

“ ... (there is) a longing that seems to be re-emerging in our culture right now the longing not just to be part of a family, but also to be part of a family with a mission greater than its own survival. ... we see a longing for family. And not just a nuclear family (which is a fairly modern experiment that is failing), but the more ancient extended family: a relational network of blood and non-blood relationships, natural family along with friends, neighbors, and work relationships. This was the 'household' of the ancient world. We have adopted the Greek word for household to refer to this reality: oikos." – pg. 11

"(This generation) saw the marriages of their parents and their friends' parents fall into petty bickering and eventual divorce. They felt and witnessed the pain of that process  no wonder they delay (and even put off entirely) marriage and having kids. They saw the churches they attended with their parents split several times because of unresolved bitterness – no wonder they don't want to come to church. It doesn't look safe! The funny thing, though, is that in the midst of the rubble, they still long for family. We can see through the artifacts they produce that they are seeking to rebuild their own extended families out of the pieces that have fallen apart. It seems our culture, despite its suspicions, is attempting to reclaim life in the context of family." – pg. 12

"Family for its own sake is too insular and myopic to carry its own weight. People are longing to be part of a mission that's worth living and dying for, and out of that mission they become part of a family that's worth fighting for. Mission is the integrating principle that binds the family together and makes everything else work. And while our culture's longings don't necessarily tell us what is true, it's interesting that what our culture seems to be desperate for is exactly what God has been seeking to do from the very beginning – gather a family and give them a mission.– pg. 17 

Chapter 3 We Were Created for This // Mike Writes:

Our identity is that we are a family on mission. This is rooted in the two key themes of the Scriptures: covenant and kingdom. Covenant means that God has called us into a relationship with himself that leads to become one with him. Covenant is two becoming one. That's the family part. Kingdom means that our Father who has called us into relationship with himself also happens to have the most important job you can think of: he's the king of the universe. And as the king, he's not looking only for relationship – he's looking for representatives. That's the mission part – the same people who are in covenantal relationship with him also adopt his mission and learn to represent his kingship in the world. Covenant is always about relationship and family. Kingdom is always about representation and mission.” – pg. 19

"We are on mission because we are created and redeemed by a God who is himself on mission. ... our activity was grounded in the activity of God, meaning that we weren't so much doing mission for God as doing mission with God. ... When the missio dei is combined with the heady cocktail of Western individualism, it inevitably gives rise to an individualistic methodology of mission. We think through the lens of individuals being sent on mission because we envision God as an individual on mission.– pg. 21

"Within the Mystery that is the unity of the Godhead, there is community. This community is revealed at the baptism of Jesus, where 'heaven was opened, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and alighting on him. And a voice from heaven said, 'This is my Son, whom I love, with him I am well pleased.' Note the language of family! There is a Father speaking identity to a Son, and the empowering Spirit of God descending as a dove. This is the Trinity, as it was eventually called by the early church father Tertullian. The interesting thing about what the Father spoke over Jesus at his baptism – which anyone listening at the time would have recognized – was that they were words of commission, sending Jesus on official family business. Paul uses almost the same familial language when he sends Timothy to Corinth on gospel business, 'For this reason I have sent to you Timothy, my son whom I love, who is faithful to the Lord.' The revelation at the very beginning of Jesus' ministry is that he is not operating independently, but he is coming from a family to represent a family." – pg. 22

"This is how God has always worked. Before there was a tabernacle, temple, synagogue, or church, there was a family. Family on mission was how God started his project of creating beings in his image to represent him. Family on mission was how he started his project of saving and redeeming his creation after they fell. Family on mission was how he operated throughout salvation history. And Family on mission was how Jesus functioned in bringing redemption to its climax in his life, death, and resurrection. ... From Adam and Eve ('it is not good for man to be alone') to Abraham to Jesus to the early church, family on mission is the methodology God has used to accomplish his redemptive work in the world. All of God's missional activity springs from his identity ... God created a family, and gave them a mission: 'Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it.' At a very basic level this task is impossible for a single individual to accomplish! Adam and Eve needed one another to even begin to carry out the mission God had given them. ... From the very beginning, we can see that humans are meant to exist deeply connected in covenantal relationship to God and to each other, and that this is a vital key to being able to function in the mission God calls us to. ... God starts his massive project of saving the world by calling a family and giving them a mission. He will continue to work with this family as it grows into a nation (which is really just a tribe of families), and eventually from this family will come one who fulfills all that God has planned for his creation. The fascinating thing, though, is that God begins this huge project in such a small way, with a family. Family on mission is God's methodology for saving the world." – pgs. 20, 23-25

"If (we are meant to exist in family), we would expect to see Jesus functioning this way. If he is the supreme revelation of who God is (and he is), then we'd expect him to reveal this reality as well. We would expect him to build a family on mission to fulfill his missional call. ... Everything we do in discipleship and mission needs to find its way back to something about the way Jesus did things, or it isn't normative. Is family on mission simply a convenient ministry strategy or is it integrated into the way Jesus functioned in his mission?" – pg. 27
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