Doing Good or Doing Well

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The Metrics of Mission

Measuring the performance of a missional church community is not performed using the same yardstick as many modern churches utilize. While the paramount measure of success in some church circles is bottoms in seats, the missional church evaluates their adherence to the missio dei by how many seats are provided for bottoms. Rather than making a mission of increasing the budget year over year, a missional community will consider the percentage of their budget turned around into the mission field. Tallying the noses of the churched kids who attend a VBS is one number, taking the VBS under various guises to the unreached children of the area is an entirely different count. In every missional metric the priority is reaching, touching and influencing the lives of our neighbors with the truth and reality of the gospel.

As Willow Creek discovered years ago, the metric used to evaluate success doesn’t always align with God’s intention for the church. Their numbers in terms of attendance and conversion were staggering by any measure but the culture that generated those numbers also came at a high cost. As the adage goes, they were a mile wide and an inch deep. “Go and make disciples” had reduced to “baptize them”, a crucial measure but only half the mission. The Commission is holistic and intended to build a self-replicating community of believers who will join the cycle and further the mission.

The missional church may never attain the size of a market-entertainment-self help driven church. That will always be more attractive to the itching ears of our time. The missional body will grow, perhaps not as numerically quickly, but in a more important aspect, they will grow spiritually. The numbers in this world may not impress but the results in the Kingdom ahead will be staggering.

image by Roland Tanglao

IN ALL THINGS GOD WORKS FOR THE GOOD OF THOSE WHO LOVE HIM : CHARLESTON EDITION

So where was God at work for those who love Him when the shooter in Charleston entered His house and began making martyrs with a pistol?

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In the title you likely recognized a very familiar passage from Romans often ripped from its context and applied to different life situations indiscriminately. When that happens the meaning of the verse in the larger passage becomes muddled, and even lost. The idea of God working all things for good can adopt a diminished connotation, taking on the secular definition of good — a positive, pleasing outcome.

So where was God at work for those who love Him when the shooter in Charleston entered His house and began making martyrs with a pistol?

The answer requires that you travel back months and years in the faithful journey of the pastor and the disciples of the church who were mindful of preparing their hearts and souls for an event that they never imagined would be visited upon their church. They took seriously what the Lord taught in the Beatitudes and shaped their souls with his command to love your neighbor as yourself. They knew the necessity of recognizing the heart as the wellspring of life and were diligent in prayer and study to strengthen in shape that heart.

The good that God had worked in his people in the AME Church in Charleston was seen almost immediately in the aftermath of the shooting. A feverish news media descended on the crime scene looking high and low for someone who would shout words of racial division or a demand for the scalp of the shooter. Disappointed, all they received from the remaining members of the church were Christ-like words of forgiveness and love for the young man who had made such life shattering decision.

This is a challenge to understand until we grasp what Paul is saying in this verse in its context. The good that God works for is those things that increasingly conform us to the likeness of our Savior. It may be positive things and it may be life-changing events. Both stretch and test our souls in different ways giving the Holy Spirit ample opportunity to shape and mold us into the people that our Father intends us to be.

People whose first impulse is to love and forgive when hateful revenge seems to be the most appealing course.

image by Ken Wilcox

Psalm 34 Taste And See That The Lord Is Good

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I sought the Lord and he answered me; he delivered me from all my fears.

Those who look to him are radiant; their faces are never covered with shame. (vv 4-5)

As we often see, the psalms are intensely personal. Starting as the voice of one man, through the centuries these magnificent poems have created the foundation for countless prayers. You may read and use the psalter in such a manner. What is more important is the reason that we are attracted to the psalms and that is that we see our own experiences played out in the lives of others. We have faced danger and the Lord has delivered us. We have been surrounded by enemies and the Lord has delivered us. Our story, as we see David’s, is of value to those around us whether they know the Lord or not.

Our greatest purpose is to live lives that invite others to taste the glory of God. Our words and actions should be so winsome that others cannot resist asking their source. In the wisdom component of this psalm, David voices these imperatives.

Taste and see that the Lord is good; blessed is the man who takes refuge in him. (v 8)

Whoever of you loves life and desires to see many good days, keep your tongue from evil and your lips from speaking lies.

Turn from evil and do good; seek peace and pursue it. (vv 12-13)

Let’s make it our mission this week (and beyond) to be purposeful in our joy and peace. Let is radiate from us and extend the invitation to come and taste…

 

Photo by Michele Cat

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