Wednesday, March 25, 2015

City Notes 21 | Everyday Church: Gospel Communities on Mission Part 1 of 3

Emmaus City Worcester MA Be the Church Soma Acts 29 3DM Christian Reformed Multi-ethnic Network of Missional Communities

City Notes 21: Books in 30 minutes or less

City Notes are more than a book review. They 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 City Notes books:

2015 | The Rest of God; Interrupted

Emmaus City Worcester MA Be the Church Acts 29 3DM Christian Reformed Multi-ethnic Network of Missional CommunitiesTim Chester and Steve Timmis' Everyday Church: Gospel Communities on Mission could have also been the very first Sully Notes I posted in relationship to Emmaus City. Some friends who are church planters, when asking the question, "What does it mean to be the church?" were greatly influenced by Chester and Timmis' first book, Total Church: A Radical Reshaping Around Gospel and Community. I love that book, too, but for this next series of Sully Notes, we'll go with Everyday Church because Emmaus City is just about to finish our homily series on 1 Peter.

Everyday Church by Tim Chester and Steve Timmis Review of Quotes | City Notes 21: Part 1 of 3

“(What does it mean) to be an everyday church with an everyday mission? We need to shift our focus from putting on attractional events to creating attractional communities. Our marginal status is an opportunity to rediscover the missionary call of the people of God. We can recover witness to Christ unmuddied by nominal Christianity. It is also an opportunity to reconnect with our Bibles. The New Testament is a collection of missionary documents written to missionary situations. It was written by Christians living on the margins … ” – pg. 10 

Chapter 1 | Life at the Margins: 1 Peter 1:1-12 

“ ‘… Any apostolic church that derives its nature from the apostolic (or sending) character of God has no option but to face its mission to the non-churched, even if this is at the cost of finding new ways of being and doing church to exist alongside what we do and are at present. The task is to become church for them, among them and with them, and under the Spirit of God to lead them to become church in their own culture’ (Mission-Shaped Church: Church Planting and Fresh Expressions of Church in a Changing Context by Philip Richter and Leslie Francis) … We cannot claim to be faithfully proclaiming the gospel to the lost through our Sunday preaching when most of the lost do not attend church. We need to do mission outside church and church events. … We cannot assume people will come to us. We must go to them. We need to do church and mission in the context of everyday life. We can no longer think of church as a meeting on a Sunday morning. We must think of church as a community of people who share life, ordinary life. … – pgs. 27-28

“From the margins we point to God’s coming world. We offer an alternative lifestyle, values, relationships – a community that proves incredibly attractive. First Peter equips us to go back into the world – into our classrooms, boardrooms, factories, playgrounds, and changing rooms – as men and women who, like our Savior before us, are those who are marginal yet world changing.” – pg. 35

Chapter 2 | Everyday Community: 1 Peter 1:13-2:8

“We need to operate as missionaries in a foreign land. … Most people do not believe in a personal God, and most people do not believe there is only one true religion. … We cannot talk about guilt, faith, religion or even God and assume that people understand what we are talking about. … We cannot talk about Jesus and assume that people locate him in a framework of creation, fall, redemption, and future hope. Everything has to be explained.” – pgs. 37, 39

"Peter does not present a complex model of how we should adapt to our context. Instead he describes the new identity of his readers in a way that inevitably shapes their engagement with their neighbors in a gospel-centered way. At a number of key moments Peter says, ‘therefore’ in a way that turns identity into action, indicatives into imperatives (I Peter 1:13; 2:1; 4:1, 7).” – pg. 41

We say: We are committed to blessing our neighborhoods and cities – redressing injustice, pursuing reconciliation and welcoming the marginalized. We celebrate the diversity of cultures in our local contexts while recognizing the need for gospel renewal. We encourage one another to glorify God and serve others through the workplace, business, community projects, government and artistic endeavor.– pgs. 45-46

“When Peter wants to warn Christians against certain behaviors, the force of the injunction is not ‘Do not be as your neighbors are!’ but ‘Do not be as you were!’ Miroslav Volf comments: ‘When identity is forged primarily through the negative process of the rejection of the beliefs and practices of others … we have to push others away from ourselves and keep them at a distance. … Only those who refuse to be defined by their enemies can bless them.’” – pg. 52

People are often attracted to the Christian community before they are attracted to the Christian message. This does not necessarily mean inviting people to Sunday services. It means introducing those in our network of relationships in the context of ordinary life: inviting both Christian and non-Christian friends around for a meal or for an evening out. So our approach to mission should involve three elements: (1) building relationships, (2) sharing the gospel message, and (3) including people in community. – pg. 56

Chapter 3 | Everyday Pastoral Care: 1 Peter 1:22-2:3

(Dietrich Bonhoeffer says): ‘…Christian community is not an ideal we have to realize, but rather a reality created by God in Christ in which we may participate. The more clearly we learn to recognize that the ground and strength and promise of all our community is in Jesus Christ alone, the more calmly we will learn to think about our community and pray and hope for it (Life Together and Psalms: Prayerbook of the Bible).” – pg. 59

“Peter calls on us to ‘love one another earnestly from a pure heart’ (ESV). That is a demanding command designed to create a distinctive community, but Peter first says his readers have ‘purified (their) souls by (their) obedience to the truth for a sincere brotherly love’ (ESV). We have been purified by the gospel for love, so love. The truth purges us of those selfish desires that conflict with love, and it is this that then enables us to love one another earnestly. Love one another deeply, says Peter, ‘for you have been born again.’ This is who we are. We are members of a new family, bound together in brotherly love through the gospel of Jesus and the power of the Spirit. Once again the move is from identity to action. This command is realizable because of who we are in Christ, because of the new reality that God has produced in our lives through the gospel Word.” – Pg. 60

(Dietrich Bonhoeffer notes): ’ … when God won our hearts by God’s own love, our instruction in Christian love began at the same time. When God was merciful to us, we learned to be merciful with one another. When we received forgiveness instead of judgment, we too were made ready to forgive each other. What God did to us, we then owed to others. The more we received, the more we were able to give; and the more meager our love for one another, the less we were living by God’s mercy and love. Thus God taught us to encounter one another as God has encountered us in Christ. ‘Welcome one another, therefore, just as Christ has welcomed you, for the glory of God’ (Romans 15:7) (Life Together).” – pg. 61

“Craving the milk of God’s Word is so much more than acquiring new information. Peter says we are to ‘crave pure spiritual milk, so that by it you may grow up in your salvation, now that you have tasted that the Lord is good’ (I Peter 2:2-3) … So we do not read the Bible simply to fill our minds, but to change our hearts. We do not read the Bible simply to be informed, but to be conformed to the image of Jesus. We read the Bible to stir our affections: our fear, our hope, our love, our desire, our confidence. We read it until our heart cries out, ‘The Lord is good!’” – pg. 63 

Paul’s radical commitment to Christ arises from his delight in Christ, and that is the pattern for our pastoral care. We are not in the business of cajoling people into commitment. Our job is to give people such joy in Christ that the treasures and temptations of this earth look like pathetic alternatives. … We pastor one another with the good news. By good news, we mean the gospel – the message of the lordship of Jesus, his saving death on our behalf, eternal life through his resurrection, the welcoming grace of God, the transforming power of the Holy Spirit, the care of the heavenly Father, and so on. … Our pastoral inventions must all offer good news. When we talk with people, they need to leave thinking, That is such good news. I’m so relieved. Of course in reality pastoral care is never quite that straightforward, but our goal is to offer good news that brings joy.” – pg. 73 

“So our role as those committed to pastoring one another is to speak the truth to one another in the everyday realities of our lives. If we can identify the lie behind the sin, then we can speak the truth more effectively into others’ lives. This is the truth that will, as Jesus promised, set them free. We need to ask ourselves: What is the lie and what is the corresponding gospel promise? What is substituting for Jesus and what is the corresponding truth about Jesus that offers hope? – pg. 76 

4 Liberating Truths about God – pgs. 76-82

1) God is great, so we do not have to be in control: We often want to be in control, so we dominate, manipulate, or overwork people. Or we fear things being out of control, so we worry. But God is sovereign. He is in control. Things may not always go the way we want, but God is in control, and he uses everything that happens to us for our good. Effects of a faithful response: Our pastoral care will be relaxed and patient. We will give people space to change and time to grow. When we talk with people, we will not feel the need to sort everything out in one go. We will give them a chance to talk and space to disagree. At the same time, we will be able to take risks because we trust the outcomes to God’s sovereign care. We will give away power and responsibility because we do not think everything depends on us. 

2) God is glorious, so we do not have to fear others: We often sin because we crave the approval of other people or fear their rejection. The Bible calls this the ‘fear of man’ (Prov. 29:25). We live to please other people, or we are controlled by peer pressure. The Bible’s answer is the fear of God. God is the glorious one whom we should fear. He is the one whose approval matters most, and he is the one whose approval we have in Jesus Christ. Effects of a faithful response: Only when the glory of God sets us free from the fear of man can we serve others in love. Then we are free to speak the truth people need to hear, not what they want to hear, and we ourselves can be vulnerable before others, rejoicing in God’s vindication or justification. 

3) God is good, so we do not have to look elsewhere: Sin often leads to pleasure, but its pleasures are empty and temporary. Only God brings true and lasting joy. The pleasures of sin are quick and immediate. So we need faith to turn to God for lasting joy. Effects of a faithful response: If we find joy in God, then we will serve with passion and enthusiasm. We will be characterized by generosity, simplicity, and energy. Our lives will be winsome and welcoming. 

4) God is gracious, so we do not have to prove ourselves: Many people act out of a desire to prove themselves. On the surface they may look impressive because they achieve many things or live good lives, but when things go well they are proud, and when things go badly they are crushed. They may look down on others because this makes them feel better about themselves or become bitter when their hard work is not rewarded in the way they want. It is also this desire that makes us determined to win an argument. The good news is that, while we can never justify ourselves before God, God has justified us through Jesus Christ. Jesus has done it all, so we have nothing left to prove. Effects of a faithful response: If we rest on the grace of God and find our identity in Christ, then our lives and ministry will be characterized by peace and rest, joy and freedom, confidence and humility, compassion and kindness. We will not rejoice when others fail. Our concern will be to bless rather than to impress. We will not need the affirmation of other people, and we will be free from the need to defend ourselves. There will be a transparency and vulnerability about our lives because we do not feel the need to hide our sin. We will create a context in which other people feel able to share their struggles.” 

Next post: Everyday Church: Gospel Communities on Mission Part 2 of 3 


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