A Life Worthy Of The Gospel

Only let your conduct be worthy of the gospel of Christ… (Philippians 1:27).

The apostle Paul wanted the Philippians’ living to be their preaching. Much like Francis of Assisi said years later: “Preach always; if necessary, use words.”

The big question is—what does conduct “worthy of the gospel of Christ” look like? I believe Paul identifies at least 15 characteristics in just the next 20 or so verses

  1. It is not a people-pleasing lifestyle. It is a God-honoring, Spirit-lead, Christ-glorifying lifestyle.
  2. It is steadfast, which means it perseveres even through the trials and difficulties.
  3. It is a heart and mind unified with other Christians.
  4. It is bold—“without being frightened in any way by those who oppose you.” 
  5. It is strengthened in Christ and it is in constant fellowship with the Holy Spirit. 
  6. It overflows with loving comfort, affection, and mercy to those around it.
  7. It humbly serves others while confidently refreshing itself in Christ.
  8. It strives to live as Jesus did, seeking always for God to be glorified.
  9. It is obedient to the conviction and direction of the Holy Spirit.
  10. It finds pleasure in doing God’s will.
  11. It doesn’t complain.
  12. It is a blameless and harmless life.
  13. It shines a light that attracts others to God’s love.
  14. It holds fast to the Word of life for the long haul.
  15. It is a rejoicing, contented lifestyle.

Heavenly Father, may it always be said of my life that it is one that is worthy of the gospel of Christ. May I always be sensitive to the nudges of the Holy Spirit to keep my life aligned in this way. In Jesus’ name I pray, Amen! 

Does Either-Or Work?

Sometimes I read about this debate whether churches should be “attractional” or “missional.” The first approach says that church should attract people first, and then share the gospel with them. The second approach says that if churches simply focus on sharing the gospel they will then attract people.

Either-or. Either missional or attractional.

What about both-and?

Consider the life of Jesus. No one would ever argue that He wasn’t “on mission” all the time. In fact, numerous times He says, “I’m doing what My Father wants me to do,” or even, “It’s not time for me to do that yet.” Jesus was missional.

And yet… “Tax collectors and other notorious sinners often came to listen to Jesus teach. This made the Pharisees and teachers of religious law complain that He was associating with such sinful people — even eating with them! (Luke 15:1-2). People loved being around Jesus. Jesus was attractional.

Jesus exemplified both-and missional-attractional. I think He was able to perfectly balance this because of the work of the Holy Spirit. I can aim for the both-and of missional-attractional in my life … I can give it my best shot. But the only way I can truly achieve anything is by allowing the Holy Spirit to shape and direct my life, just as He did for Jesus. Henry & Melvin Blackaby, in their book Experiencing The Holy Spirit, wrote —

The world doesn’t need to see good people giving their best to God; they need to encounter God doing in and through us what only He can do! …Our best isn’t good enough when it comes to kingdom work; we need the Holy Spirit in our lives if we’re going to be of use to God.”

I need the Holy Spirit in my life if I’m going to be of use to God, and be of any benefit to people.

I need the Holy Spirit in my life if I’m going to balance both-and missional-attractional like Jesus.

Thinking About And

These are my “raw notes” from The And Conference. If anyone wants to add on, modify, or delete, please feel free.

Alan Hirsch

Cultural differences – imagine numbers 1-4 as barriers to even starting a conversation (m1-m4).

In western culture we’re pushing more toward m3 or m4. In fact, the gap between m0 and m1 is shrinking.

Our idea of church is 17 centuries old (tracing back to Constantine), so there is a HUGE assumption we’re making when we think “church.” From m0 to m1 is the church’s current domain. No cultural barriers have to be crossed. However, much of culture is in m3-m4.

If we act attractionally in a missional setting, we’ve extracted them from their “m” zone. New believers in 3-5 years after becoming a Christian will have no non-Christian friends. We’ve extracted them!

Most people feel good about God, Jesus, and spirituality. However, there are negative feelings about “church.” Most people remember or focus on only three things in their “perceived set.” Marketers try to get their product/service in that perceived set.

Jesus, yes; church, no. Kind of like iPhone, yes; AT&T, no. But now the Apple logo on the iPhone reminds people of AT&T.

The dechurched have been inoculated against the church.

Dream out-loud at high volume about what the church could be!

“As the Father sent Me, so I send you.” How did the Father send Jesus? He stepped into culture, He lived in the culture and spoke to people out of culture. Church should come out of mission, not mission out of church. Just like the Acts church didn’t require Gentile believers to adopt Jewish practices. So we don’t plant churches, we plant the Gospel and let the church grow out of that.

The Bible doesn’t know the difference between “clergy” & “laity.” Why do we persist in putting people in these categories?

————–

“Apostolic” is the Greek version of the Latin “missional.” We need an apostolic environment to take movements to a place of spontaneous expansion. The apostle is a catalyst to growth.

Paul starts churches which start churches = movement → expansion.

Paul then teaches. He is the custodian of the movement’s DNA. He is also the guardian of the purity of the DNA.

An “apostle” is not an apostle if it’s a top-down leadership. An apostle is a servant leader.

Ephesians 4

  • vv. 7-11  APEST = apostle, prophet, evangelist, shepherd, teacher.
  • vv. 12-16  maturity – cannot get to maturity without all of APEST. Most denominations focus just on S & T. “Shepherd” is only used once in the New Testament, and the New Testament says, “Not many of you should presume to be teachers.”

Leadership is a calling within a gifting. APEST gifts are given to everyone, but some are called to be leaders within their gifting.

APEST gifts carry more of a vocational weight. Gifts of the Spirit are more of empowerments for the moment. The gifts of Romans 12 are motivational/paradigmal gifts.

———-

Re-Jesus = a renewed focus on full Christology: most of our focus is on the Cross, resurrection & return. We need to include Incarnation & His life among humanity. We make Him Savior, but not Lord.

Re-mission = who God is must determine what the church does.

Re-organize = missional churches are responsive to the world around us. Our churches must be organized to be nimble.

Tim Stevens

Every new term that comes out tells us we’re doing church wrong. So Tim says “Missional schmissional!” and “Attractional schmactional!”

Most churches are defined as “Come to us.” But this only works for <40% of people. People are still “spiritual,” but they don’t like “church.”

Do we attract the unchurched 60% OR missionalize the churched 40%. How about BOTH-AND? We have to help the 40% reach their 60%.

We can still say “Come and see,” but emphasize “So that” = “Come and see what Jesus does so that you can tell others.”

There is no one-plan-for-all method for churches to do BOTH-AND. Each church must discover what works for them in their community.

Jason Miller

Linear thinking is how our brains process info. That’s why telling stories with a plot twist is so powerful. Like when Jesus said, “You have heard… but I tell you….” Twists get people’s attention.

People in the world have had their imaginations devastated by culture who says love is conditional. When we talk about God’s unconditional love, it’s a plot twist they never imagined.

We have a mandate to do something beautiful. Beauty awakens imaginations to see God’s love. Like sympathetic vibrations: God’s beauty begins to resonate and awaken imagination.

“The church is God’s imagination to the world.”

Dave Ferguson

What can we do for those who won’t come to church?

Missional people (micro level) + Multiplying churches (macro level) = Missional movement

How to create a missional culture: (1) Ordain every member; (2) Lead with a “Yes”; (3) Make heroes of everyday people.

Saying “Yes” doesn’t mean funding the project or even announcing the project. It just means giving people permission to reach out.

Business paradigm that makes money but not movements: say “No” to anything that you haven’t fully researched.

Matt Carter

We can’t have “professional Christians” that do ministry & those that only receive ministry.

Christianity today needs to look like what we see in Acts.

What if instead of attracting new people to church, we released current attendees to do ministry?

What if it wasn’t “come and see” but “go and do”?

Small group success = seeing & addressing a need in the community. “Nothing builds community better than mission. When we aim at community, we may get it. But when we aim at mission, we get that and community too.”

Need to share success stories and failure stories. This creates a culture that let’s everyone know that it’s okay to try.

Hugh Halter

We need to redefine “disciple” because now we define them as “church attendee.”

Two categories: missional and sojourners. Missional people prepare the way for sojourners to become missionals by making the Kingdom of God tangible.

A better definition of disciple is apprentice. An apprentice is learning by doing; they’re hands-on.

Second decision environment = people choose to get more involved. For example, Sunday morning attendance is a first decision; a small group is a second decision.

Barriers to discipleship: individualism, consumerism, materialism. To overcome these barriers, Jesus put people in a place of tension. This typically can’t take place in a first decision environment.

Other ways to address these barriers: modeling, confrontation, action/reflection.

Jesus wasn’t interested in followers, but in disciples.

Rob Wegner

“Every member is a minister.” – Mark Beeson

Attractional churches use centripetal force to bring people in. Missional churches use centrifugal force to send people out.

Attractional is embedded inside missional. Attractional is the seed for missional. As Hirsch said, it’s more “extractional.”

Attractional seeds → Missional community → Extractional movement

Do we have to see church as institution and church as movement as opposites? Or co-existing? Genius of BOTH-AND!

Attractional Or Missional?

Yesterday was a full day at The And Conference. I’m so glad I came to this! All day long I had so many thoughts swirling through my head and emotions tugging at my heart.

The idea behind And comes from the conundrum of The Tyranny of Either-Or versus The Genius of Both-And. Is there a way for two seemingly opposing ideas to coexist, or even to enhance each other. In the case of this conference the both-and/either-or tug is between attractional churches and missional churches.

Yesterday I listened to profound thinkers like Alan Hirsch, Rob Wegner, Hugh Halter, Matt Carter, and Dave Ferguson. Many of them shared their personal tension with the attractional/missional models. There were so many other terms that were thrown around too.

But sitting in my hotel room last night debriefing, I began to think about Jesus. He is the only One to ever balance both-and perfectly.

  • He both attracted and repelled people.
  • He both called and sent.
  • He was both in the church and in the community.
  • He was both religious and irreligious.
  • He spent time with both crowds and individuals.
  • He was both attractional and missional.

Of course the Bible doesn’t use any of these terms — they’re all man-made — but Jesus embodied them all.

He embodied them.

He was Himself.

“I AM.”

That’s what I want: To be myself … who God created me to be … more and more conformed to the image of Jesus … listening more attentively to the counsel of the Holy Spirit …

If I am myself, terms like missional and attractional will take care of themselves.

(By the way, I’ll be tweeting throughout the conference again today. Follow me on Twitter here, and search for the hashtag #and10.)

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