Wednesday, November 19, 2014

A Field Guide for Everyday Mission Part 4 of 4: A Conversation with Matt Carter Video and Quotes

Emmaus City Worcester MA Soma Acts 29 3DM Christian Reformed Family Network of Missional Communities


A Field Guide Conversation 4 of 4: Matt Carter Video and Quotes

To read and watch the quotes and clip from previous posts:

Emmaus City Worcester MA Soma Acts 29 3DM GCM Collective Christian Reformed Network of Missional CommunitiesBen Connelly and Bob Roberts, Jr. have written a book and created that I don't want to just read through; I want to patiently soak in, apply, wash, rinse, and repeat the wisdom they've gained. And I want to take on this journey with others. Right now, A Field Guide for Everyday Mission: 30 Days and 101 Ways to Demonstrate the Gospel is sitting on my night stand, readto inspire and centralize my focus on following Jesus everyday by the power of His Word and His Holy Spirit. Potentially, this adventurous reading and living will be on the horizon for our City Groups with Emmaus City. For now, in a series of four posts filled with videos and quotes, there will be teasers for the book in how to dive into not only loving, knowing, and understanding Jesus, but also walking in His ways.

A Conversation with Matt Carter

How did God lead you into missional living?


"Looking at the Scriptures and seeing the way the New Testament believers lived their lives, that's just what they were. I think we a lot of times as American Christians see church as something that we do. With New Testament believers, church is who they were. And mission was just an absolute natural, automatic given overflow of their lives."

"What if our people were the voice of our church and the voice of Christ in the community? And so early on, when we began to grow and see more people not only coming to the Lord, but just coming to be with the church, we would ask them, 'How did you hear about us?' And they would say, 'Well, we heard about it from my friend who I go to work with ... or my friend in my neighborhood.' And so we realized that this was catching on, that people really looked at the mission of God as not something the lead pastor did for their friends, but it was something they viewed as, 'I'm going to do this in the sphere of influence that God has placed me in my life.'"    


How are small groups and missional communities different?


 "We changed the definition of success for our 'small group' ministry. Initially, we would define success as a small group of people that in addition to their weekly Sunday gathering met and gathered together in homes. And that usually included some sort of meal and a Bible study and maybe prayer. And if we could get people to move from the large group environment to the small group environment, we viewed that as success. But one of the things we realized over the course of the years was that that was where it was ending. Some were finding authentic biblical community, but most of the time they weren't. And so we redefined success. We defined success not only as are you, in addition to gathering in the large group environment and meeting in the small group environment, but is your small group living on mission together in the city? Is that small group of people, not only are they studying Scripture, but are they being salt and light in the spheres of influence God has them in across the city? And so the success became, not only are you meeting together, but are you on mission together?"


Why is living on mission so difficult? 

(4:32 5:22)

"The difficult thing about living on mission is people get burned out. ... People go out and do it and they get tired after a while and they get burned out or they don't see success. I think a lot of times it's that their mission is being fueled out of emotion, or it's being fueled out of guilt, or it's being fueled out of it's the cool thing that the church is doing right now instead of it being a response to the gospel. The most success we've seen are those who go, 'OK, Jesus did all this for me. Jesus lived on mission for me. Jesus changed my life and my mission, my ministry, and my missional life is going to be an overflow of what Jesus has done for me.' We've seen that be most sustainable in people's lives instead of being on mission for a lot of different reasons."

What does living on mission look like for you? 

(5:24 8:45)

"I'm an introvert, so my natural gut reaction to people is to be away from them. ... The one-on-one conversation with folks, for whatever way God wired me, is more difficult. And so I have to be extremely intentional about building relationships with people that are not believers outside the church. So one of the things I'm doing is coaching my son's sports team. And that's hard for me to do to go out and interact with all those folks. ... But I do it because I'm called to be salt and light, not just in the pulpit. ... I've got to put myself in situations where I'm encountering lostness so I can be who Jesus called me to be, not as a pastor, but as a Christian."

 "I talk about my sin a lot when I'm with people in situations. I'll talk about how I've messed up and I've failed and I struggle in a lot of ways they do and how Jesus and the gospel has changed my life. And I've sometimes heard, 'You know I've never met a pastor that's as honest as you, or as real as you.' I don't know where they get that idea, but honesty and transparency has been really cool in those one-on-one relationships and interactions. ...You pray that the Spirit gives you the opportunity and then in those moments He'll give you the power to do it. You've just got to say, "Yes," when He prompts." 


What is one of your favorite stories of everyday mission? 

(8:47 11:26)

"We called out to the church, 'Let's go be intentional about living on mission in this high school.' We had folks that were teachers in more affluent schools in other parts of town leave their jobs and move into the neighborhood and go be teachers in this school. We had families move from the suburbs into this under-resourced neighborhood. Not go tear their houses down and build big new ones and jack up the property taxes, but just go live in the houses in that neighborhood. Hundreds of volunteers came into the school and started mentorship programs. We started helping fund their athletic programs, volunteering left and right. And within one year, we saw them pass their standardized test scores and the state of Texas didn't shut it down. ... When that happened, the city starts paying attention because when they came to the school and asked, 'What happened? How did you turn this around?' They'd say, 'Austin Stone ... ' 'What's Austin Stone?' 'It's a church.' And the city began to really take notice."

"I think the idea behind, instead of just being out in the suburbs and driving in, is kind of modeling Jesus. He lived incarnationally. I think He could have very easily spoken to us from heaven and said, 'This is the Way, the Truth, and the Life.' But He didn't. He came to us. He took on our skin. He lived in our neighborhood. He ministered to us that way. ... We're not going to live from the outside and tell you what you need to do. We're going to come live with you and suffer with you and be on the ground with you. I think that's made a lot of difference."


What is one of your biggest missional failures? 

(11:28 13:11)

"I have a tendency as a pastor to drive people too hard towards mission. A lot of people can say, 'OK, I see the need, I see that in the Bible. Alright. I'm going to live on mission. And they'll go get fired up for six months and get burned out. I think we've burned out a lot of people over the years instead of really training people that this is a lifestyle. This is what we do in response to the gospel, and really ministering and being on mission out of God's power versus their own. I think there are a lot of people over the years who would have left our church, or are not excited about mission anymore because they got burned out. I think that if I could go back and do it again, I would have made our call to mission a lot more gospel-centered and got a lot more gospel responsive other than, 'Hey, we need to go be on mission. Go change people's lives for Jesus.'"      
"I think the way we've taught people what it looks like to rely on God's Spirit is ... for a lack of better wording, to 'be in love with Jesus.' ... I think if you keep that first love that He talks about in Revelation 2, then your natural response is going to be 'I'm going to live my life for Him.' It's not hard when you're in love with someone to do things for her or him. It's just not hard. When you're falling in love, when you're emotionally connected, you serve, you give, you love. You don't even have to think twice about it, you just do it. I think it's the same with the Lord. I think when it starts growing out of duty, and not out of relationship, that's when it starts messing up."   

Father, love us. Jesus, lead us. Spirit, embolden us.


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