In the last two blogs, I wrote about how we are learning that as a family, God calls us to be on mission together. We are exploring this through reaching out and loving on the homeless in Fort Worth. We follow a simple pattern called B.L.E.S.S as we learn to engage and love those around us. If you missed the first parts, click our links below.
B. Begin with prayer
It seems funny that a component of missional living has to do with eating...but perhaps this is part of God's perfect plan to give us time to be missional. No matter how busy we get, we have to find time to eat. While we get busy at times, and can even skip meals, we know that we ultimately need to come back and eat.
Jesus taught us this missional principal Himself, so much so that people called him "a glutton and a drunkard" (Matthew 11:19). Was Jesus really addicted to food, or perhaps was he teaching us that mission can happen through sharing a meal. When Jesus trained the 72 followers in Luke 10, as they went out to proclaim the kingdom, he told them to "Stay there, eating and drinking whatever they give you."
Not only was Jesus teaching his disciples through example the missional aspect of eating, but He commanded them to do so as they went out to proclaim the gospel...this was part of their missional training.
Why eating? Perhaps it is where relationships are made...where trust is built, where life is shared. We know that the early church gathered together around meals, we are told to remember Christ through a meal, and that it all ends with the wedding feast of the Lamb. Even in other parts of our lives...families get together for dinner or cook-outs, many first dates have dinner as part of it, co-workers get together for lunches.
As families, this is one of the easiest ways to be on mission. If you want to develop relationships with people, share a meal with them. Invite the neighbor family over for dinner. Invite the co-worker over that you've been praying for. If you are a student, sit with someone else at lunch. You have to eat anyways...why not use it as an opportunity to be on mission.
As a high school teacher, I leave my door open during lunch everyday for students to come in and eat...and I make it a point to be in there to eat with them. I usually have 5 to 10 regular students who eat in my room each day, where we can talk...where I hear about struggles, and relationships are built.
As a family, as we serve the homeless at Unity Park, we started off by visiting during Saturday lunch, where we could share meals with the homeless...not provide a meal necessarily, but sit down with them and talk with them while eating. Even after the volleyball tournaments, we try to bring popsicles or pastries so we can sit around and eat with them after we play. These are sweet times where we can hear about their lives, pray with them, and build relationships.
As an individual, and as a family, how can you find time to use eating as a missional piece of your life? I encourage you to find a way to share a meal with someone this week that you might not normally eat with. Pray and see who God leads you to. Then eat with them, and see what God does....
This is Part 2 in our "Being a Family on Mission"
Part 1..."You can Be a Family on Mission: Begin with Prayer"
Quick Link: Come serve with us in Peru in November...check out my pesonal blog for more info... Calling all Missional People.
In my last blog on being a missional family, I talked about how we as a family took up the call to "make disciples" and engage the place God has planted us. Let's make no mistake, this call to engage lostness and make disciples is a core piece of the DNA of a follower of Christ. When we talk about what a follower of Christ is, we believe there are really 3 core pieces to that DNA.
D - Divine Truth...a commitment to God's divine truth..."Loving God with all our heart, soul, mind and strength"(Matt 22:37)
N - Nurturing Relationships - a commitment to loving others..."Love your neighbor as yourself" (Matt 22:39)
A - Apostolic Mission - a call to engage lostness and make disciples..."Make disciples of all nations..." (Matt 28:19)
Alan Hirsch says it best when he says "Every Christian is a sent one. There is no such thing as an unsent Christian." As follower of Jesus...we are by nature "sent ones"...sent individuals, sent families, sent communities.
The question is how do you do that as a family? In my first post, we talked about the acronym B.L.E.S.S. that we use as we participate with Christ...the first step to Begin with prayer...a logical step...but it can't stop there.
B....Begin with Prayer.
I think the best description of what we are called to do(thanks Mike Frost) is "to alert others to the universal reign of God through Christ." It's to let people know that there is a King...there is a Kingdom...and through Christ they can be part of that.
Easier said then done...right? How do we do that?
The first step is realizing that we might not know what that looks like, without first going down and listening. As we went to serve the homeless in Unity Park, we could have saved up, brought food, and handed that out...feeding the hungry...right? The thing is that the homeless around Unity Park in Fort Worth are well fed...they have meals provided for them through other local ministries. The questions is, what did they need...what could we do to be a tangible expression of the kingdom of God to them?
There is no one answer. Each place God is calling you is different...there are different people, different circumstances, different hurts, different needs. You won't know what those are until you first "GO"...and then "LISTEN". Listen to the people...what are you hearing...what are their hurts...what are the cries of their hearts.
For the homeless at Unity Park...it wasn't food, or clothes...they had those things. The cry that we kept hearing was a desire for love, community and activities...something to do.
In the Kingdom of God, everyone is loved..."Love your neighbor as yourself."...there is no loneliness and we are part of a community. As we prayed about how we could be that tangible expression of God's kingdom, we decided to start offering a volleyball tournament...a time where homeless and non-homeless could come together, play together, love each other, and be the same while on the court. In God's kingdom, there are no "poor" or "rich"...no "homeless" or "non-homeless"...in God's kingdom we are all the same...one community.
As you go to where God sends you...the 2nd step is to "Listen". Don't assume you know what it looks like to be a tangible expression of God's kingdom before you even get there. Go...listen...pray. God will make it clear how you are to serve Him...serve others...and make disciples.
It doesn't however end there...stay tuned for part 3.
If you have a 5 minutes...watch Mike Frost talk about Adopting a Posture of Listening below...
Welcome to the first COAH Missions blog. Instead of being a blog about what we are doing, we are hoping that this blog can be about what God has called you to do, and to share some lessons that we have learned about following Christ and living as families in missional communities with other Christ followers. We'll also want to provide some opportunities to connect with others who are on mission, and learn what it means to hear God and obey Him.
It's easy to recognize that we are all called to be on mission, and even have the desire to step out and teach our kids about being on mission. The hard part is actually putting that into play. Where do I go? What do I do? How do I find time in my schedule? I have young children, can God really use us as a family on mission? I'm single...just one person, can God really use me?
The answer to the last two questions, is a resounding yes...you were created to be His kingdom agents, and He has a place for you.
The answer to the first three questions, is only found in Christ. No one can tell you what to do, or where to go except for the Master himself. We use a simple pattern called B.L.E.S.S to remind us how to hear.
Over the next few entries, I will describe how we've seen each step work...covering one letter at a time.
The first letter stands for "Begin with prayer". Ask God where he is sending you and your family...and expect an answer. As you pray, begin looking around your neighborhood, your work, your school...ask God to speak to you and show you where he is leading you. He will answer you...he will show you where to go. If God truly has a mission for you, then hearing him is the first step.
As we prayed that prayer, God began to show our family his heart for the poor. It happened as we read His word, spent time in prayer, and walked with other believers, but God showed us clearly that was where he was sending us. Ultimately this led us to visit a place called Unity Park in Fort Worth. We weren't sure what we would do there, or who we would meet, but it was the first step in obedience.
Where is God calling you...what is His mission for you. I challenge you to spend some time with Him...and when you hear, move...
If you are wanting to explore some opportunities, and learn what it means to be a family on mission or be part of a missional community...and you live in the DFW area, we have some opportunities.
1) Connect with us at our house on Sunday afternoons where we come together for worship, prayer and encouragement where we push each other to hear and step into God's leading.
2) Join us at Unity Park in Fort Worth as we reach out and minister to the homeless...loving them and building relationships with them.
3) Join us at Mission Arlington once a month to serve the poor.
4) If you are interested in exploring what it means to be a family on mission internationally, come with us to Cusco, Peru on what we call our "family Mission trips." Our next trip is Nov. 19th - 27th, we'd love to have you join us.
Feel free to share in the comments where God has led your family to serve Him...
We pray that you would learn what it means hear God, and step out as families on mission,