For many of us who started simple church here in Central Kentucky, the idea of a “word” for the year is familiar; asking God to place a word on our heart that He wants to serve as a theme for the coming year. Many people have had interesting stories of how God has spoken to them through this practical exercise over the years.
This morning as I was meeting with a friend, I believe that God showed me my word for 2014–Direct.
This word flows into everything that He seems to be saying to me presently about simple church and in other personal matters. Essentially, I believe that God wants me to be more “direct” in giving DIRECTion. Hopefully, this email serves that end.
In our training times over the past two months, we have tackled some of the big questions like: Who are we and where are we going? Individually? As a family? As a simple church? In simple church, our mission field is often right where we are! Often if we look and listen, God is sending us into the lives of people who are right in front of us. While we can often hide behind vague generalities, I believe the Lord wants to show each of us the answer to these crucial questions.
If we do not hear from the Lord on these matters, then there is very good chance that our focus will become our “meeting” each week. God is calling us to something much larger—to see transformation of culture, society, and city. That is why we meet each week. We must not forget this. While Jesus primarily spent his time with the 12 and those traveling with him in his ministry, His purpose was always to transform the world.
As we seek to join Jesus in this work of transforming the world around us, I would like to ask you consider the following over the next four weeks.
1. Inward Direction: Jesus. Would you (and your spouse?) spend time – 30 minutes at least each week – to seek Jesus and get close to him over the next four weeks? Listen to what He is saying. Ask him to show you the mission field under your nose. Listen for names and/or places that He may whisper to you. “Get close to the flame,” as we were challenged by at the training. I pray that all of us would be provoked by love and burdened by Jesus for the people God has placed around us who are lost!
2. Outward Direction: “Mix” When God shows you the people, place, or culture he is calling you and your family (or simple church even) to join Him in transforming with the Gospel, ACT! Try an experiment. Would you ask God to show you a practical way that you can begin engaging the people He points out to you? Would you be willing to host or plan an activity that could foster relationship building? I shared an example at the training how the skate church has been asking some of these questions and we have decided to rent the indoor skate park out for a day. The idea is to bless the skaters in Lexington by providing an opportunity to “mix” with others and share Christ’s love in a tangible way. Again, this is not a one-time, in and out project, but a first step at mixing with the people, place, or culture that God wants to transform through us.
3. Name Change? Finally consider changing the name of your simple church to reflect who you are and where God is leading you. We all know that our name says a lot to others about who we are, but it also serves as a great reminder to ourselves. Even if you and those in your community are the only ones who know the name, it can serve be a tangible way to communicate your unique mission.
As I write this, I’m very excited about the possibility of each simple church being filled with people and families who have heard from the Lord about a place, people, or subculture of our city in which He is calling them to transform. We can continue to become people who are broken for the lives around us. We can reach out and act, not out of religious obligation, but because Jesus has so filled our hearts with love and compassion that we cannot stay where we are. We define simple church then by Jesus and what He is doing rather than getting people together each week and figuring out what our meetings are supposed to be like.
I will be praying for each of you and look forward to discussing these things and more with you on January 12th at our next training. If you do not live in the area but would like help exploring the direction God is leading you in 2014, please contact me and we consult witht you (free of course) via phone. I can’t wait to see what God does in the coming year!