A Community On Mission
Introduction: Do the FOB bit.
The church today looks less like a FOB and more like a ski resort.
I have a really hard time reconciling this with what we seen in scripture. We are in the book of Acts and the church receives her marching orders in chapter one verse eight. Here is what Jesus says right before His ascension.
So when they had come together, they were asking Him, saying, “Lord, is it at this time You are restoring the kingdom to Israel?”
The Apostles wanted to see the Kingdom restored. We get this amazing story in the last chapters of Luke’s Gospel account about these two disciples walking on the road to Emmaus. These disciples didn’t see Jesus for who He was. It is obvious from that story that they were disappointed because they thought that Jesus was going to set up the eternal kingdom of Israel.
This kingdom is a place of eternal rest and peace. This is the restored eden on earth where evil is vanquished and the curse is removed. God has put that longing in our hearts and it is obvious from the Apostles statement here that they expected the same exact thing.
The problem here is that in this period of religious peace, freedom, and liberty, we have tried to fabricate this kingdom in our churches. We create these bastions of Christian culture where we can fully surround ourselves in an entirely Christian subculture filled with the music we like, the morals and values we hold dear, and the away from the harsh environment of the world around us. The best churches offer the greatest amounts of goods and services that cater to this very natural desire within us. The best churches offer the best christian music, the most programs that cater to the widest audience, the best practical teaching, and the most comfortable experience that helps us live out our faith personally and fully realize the kingdom of God in the here and now.
I would liken this to a ski resort…explain.
While the church is supposed to be the most visible expression of God’s kingdom on earth, we live in the already but not yet kingdom.
The kingdom has already been inaugurated by Jesus but has not yet fully come to fruition. This kingdom has not yet come fully and Jesus is about to explain that we have a job to do in the interim.
He said to them, “It is not for you to know times or epochs which the Father has fixed by His own authority;
Jesus is regularly pressed over the issue of when the end is coming and His response is always the same. He almost seems evasive in his response but its actually quite purposeful. When asked this question, Jesus always gives a super vague response that doesn’t help narrow down when the end is coming and then He immediately proceeds to say: “you have a job to do.”
Think about it…we have no ability to usher in the kingdom of God any faster. God has already chosen when and how this will take place. If we cannot change a single detail or date surrounding the coming of God’s kingdom why would He even give us any information about it?
Let the end times give you hope and a sense of urgency for the mission at hand.
When I arrived at the FOB to check the aircraft damage it was pitch black outside and I could see and hear the gunfight just a couple of ridges over. I desperately wanted to wait until daylight (optimal conditions where I could actually see what I was doing) before making a ‘safe for flight’ determination and potentially putting aircrew lives at risk by sending the plane back up. The problem with waiting until daylight is that it is also daylight for the enemy. This plane sitting in the middle of a dried lake bed would have been a sitting duck for mortar and rocket fire.
We constantly have to be reminded that daylight is coming…but before it gets here we have a mission to do. We are going to skip the next verse for just a second and go on down to verses 10 & 11 because they are a testimony to this fact.
And as they were gazing intently into the sky while He was going, behold, two men in white clothing stood beside them.
They also said, “Men of Galilee, why do you stand looking into the sky? This Jesus, who has been taken up from you into heaven, will come in just the same way as you have watched Him go into heaven.”
I wanted us to read these verses to show just how natural and how strong this desire to live in the fully realized Kingdom of God is. The disciples literally just heard Jesus say not yet and He is taken up from before them and the idea we get from this passage is that they are watching to see if maybe Jesus meant not this moment but give me like five minutes and I’ll be back. And these two men (angels of some sort) immediately show up as a sort of heavenly ‘snap out of it.’ Hey you have a job to do…he’s coming back but in the meantime He has commissioned you for some special purpose.
That is what this sermon and this week is all about.
This is a reminder that we have a purpose and a mission.
It isn’t enough to assume that we get that as the church because it is easy to see, as we look out across the landscape of the church, that we have missed that. We have built ski resorts based mainly around our comfort instead of FOBs that support the mission. We cannot assume that we will do anything differently if we are not incredibly intentional to keep our focus where it is supposed to be. We have to commit to the task at hand as a new church and regularly go back to the commission and check our every action against it lest we slip into the very natural and very desirable mentality of the ski resort church.
So…what is the mission…?
but you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you;
The you in this clause is plural meaning all of you. Not individuals but a collection of individuals.
Explain how the Holy Spirit comes to empower and lead in a multitude of different ways. It looks like powerful orators like Peter, Stephen, and Paul speaking the gospel concisely and with clarity. It looks like the Philip’s who God uses in a right time and right place sort of way. It looks like the Prochorus, Nicanor, Timon, Parmenas and others who have a servants heart and steps into serve in very tangible ways. It looks like the Barnabas’ and Lydia’s who leverage their wealth and resources in generosity.
We have created a very top down system in our churches where it is the sage from the stage who makes the mission happens. Explain how this leads to mission being just ‘invite people to church.’ Explain what this looks like in the south. Do the triangle thing.
The burden of mission in our church is not the responsibility of the person on the stage…it takes every single person.
Every follower of Jesus has the primary identity of missionary.
And you have been gifted specifically to help carry out that mission within our local context called The Outpost Church. You read Ephesians 4 last week in your Expedition group and know that this is a body that requires every single member or organ to function properly. This is an entire sermon series on its own so I can’t go too far down this road; however, if we miss the significance of this clause here, we miss what comes next.
and you shall be My witnesses…
We all have a unique story of how Jesus has radically impacted your life. Peter’s story is radically different than Paul’s conversion story and how they witnessed Jesus and His impact on their life. It is from this personal encounter with the good news that we are empowered and pushed outwards to tell others about.
Give rescue society story.
both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and even to the remotest part of the earth.” -Acts 1:8
This is how the book of Acts is arranged. Explain the geographical and the cultural moving outwards here...
Do sideways arrow thing.
Explain the cultural and geographical.
Our assumption typically has been that we are to stay unless God would have us go.
Explain our typical hesitation…we start our christian life assuming that God isn’t calling us to move to Africa or China.
The biblical assumption is that we are to go unless God would have us to stay.
We will be judged by…do spaghetti vs. steak thing.
Talk about why we are an Outpost…do the gates of hell thing…talk about the facility...
Where might God be calling you to go?
Where might God be calling ME to go?
Maybe that’s across the world or across the country…more likely it is across the street or across social, economic, religious, political lines. And if you feel overwhelmed by that question or like you don’t even know where to begin or how that looks like don’t worry. Talk about the equipping the saints for ministry. We are a place of equipping and training. Talk about how we are going to be covering a lot of different topics about what it means to be a part of the church over the next six weeks…but…all of these topics are ultimately grounded in and find their purpose in supporting the mission.
Christian disciplines is a great example. We pursue these disciplines not simply to know more for knowledge’s sake…we will have infinitely expanded minds one day in the new creation so why not just wait for that? Well…its because these disciplines ready us for the mission at hand…this is the pattern.
Expedition Groups Questions
When you hear the words evangelism or mission what do you think of?
Let people really open up here. We have to realize that the ideas that shape people’s views on this subject are the starting place that we either begin with or have to reshape. I know for me personally, I think of a street preacher or the guys up in Seattle that sit outside the stadiums with the signs and the loudspeakers on their backs. Growing up, we used to have S.W.A.T.T. teams which stood for soul winning all the time. We essentially got together sunday afternoons and talked through how to hand out tracts and knock on doors. We would then go knock on doors and hand stuff out and invite people to church.
Do you think those methods of evangelism (door knocking, street evangelism) are effective today? Why or why not?
I don’t think those methods are particularly effective today. They rely one someone being at the perfect place when we come to talk to them. They have to either be seeking or hopeless or have some sense of their need that you or I step into with the Gospel at precisely the right time. Because there are people in those places, I don’t think we can afford to abandon those tactics completely. I do believe though that to spend an exorbitant amount of time, energy, and resources there makes about as much sense as using the lottery as your long term retirement plan.
What is your immediate reaction to the fact that (if you have decided to follow Jesus) your new identity is that of a missionary? Why?
Explore some of the barriers people have in their own minds about sharing their faith with others. Some people can’t talk to strangers and so if that is what engaging in the mission of Jesus looks like…well…they just aren’t going to do it.
How has the Holy Spirit gifted you uniquely to engage in mission? How would knowing this and being equipped to use this gifting change your view and approach to engaging in the mission of Jesus?
Interestingly, there really is not a concise and comprehensive list of spiritual gifts (not matter how many online spiritual gifts tests you have seen or taken). Some people are gifted teachers, leaders, shepherds, while others are gifted with mercy, hospitality, wisdom, and discernment. If God has perhaps gifted you with hospitality do you think a faithful use of that gift would be going out and doing street evangelism or teaching a class? I am going to talk about Gary and the other owners at The Shiplap Shop. They have taken their resources and their business skills and used it to create a shining beacon of goodness in our community. The shiplap has been such a huge resource and has opened up so many doors to share our faith and connect with those far from Jesus. God has gifted the Rurup’s and other owners of the shop with resources and skills that have led to an amazing mission opportunity. How might God use you and the things He has gifted you with. **Keep in mind as you talk about this (if you decide to use this example that Jeff and Vicki in your group are part owners at the Shiplap Shop as well ;)
What might it look like if every person in The Outpost Church were to use their specific giftings as we engage in the mission of Jesus in the city of Yelm?
Ask people if they have ever heard of the 80/20 rule of churches where 80% of the people do 20% of the work. Honestly that is probably a very generous number. In reality it should be like the 95/5 rule. How small of a group of people are we going to reach if we view the pastor or others who stand on a platform to drive and maintain our great commission commitment? What about a building: Is the church building the only place…or even the primary place that the great commission work should happen? What are some ways that we can ensure that we don’t turn our facility into a ski resort but instead keep our focus as an outpost? Really let people think here. How can we use our space Monday through Saturday to reach people? Write down some of the answers you get or maybe even record them where everyone can see them. I would like a copy of the answers you get.
***Before you go to the next question…introduce it…***
It would be a bit of a missed opportunity if we only TALKED ABOUT our commitment to being on mission and didn’t actually DO something about it. I think a good first step would be for us begin planning a little something for us to start doing.
We have a holiday coming up that is an amazing opportunity for us to use our giftings and engage in the mission of Jesus. Halloween is a huge melting pot. Much like the scene in Acts 2 where there are people from Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria, and the ends of the earth all gathered in one place that Peter was able to preach to…Halloween is a gathering of people from all over the community that should give us a great opportunity to be a witness to people in our community of why Jesus is such good news to us and can be to them.
Knowing that people are STARVING for interaction and that Halloween as we have known it in the past is probably not happening this year…what is something we could do to begin showing the love of Jesus to our community. Something that shows we are a community of love and care for one another. Something that allows us to begin a relationship with people that can lead to an opportunity to share the hope we have in Jesus.
What if we supported a local Pumpkin patch…maybe in connection with Crossroads. to give out some free pumpkins in our two neighborhoods (Justin and Katie’s and mine and Danielle’s). We could give out a piece of paper with each one with instructions to decorate and a date to have it on their front porch…We could go by and judge them and then give out a cool first, second, and third place prize courtesy of The Outpost. Do you think this might start a conversation with some people or open the doors and bring down barriers? Let them know we are talking about something similar. Rules and limited space would preclude us from hosting any sort of fall festival at our facility right now but something like this is socially distant and not beyond our capability to support.