Jesus at the Fringes

It’s amazing how ekklesia takes root in the fringes of society when you empower Christ in existing community rather than trying to bring “church” to them, take them to “church” or do “church” for them.

Why Do We Make It So Complicated?

When some of us started changing our perspective, we started seeing dynamic, participatory, indigenous fellowships emerge in the jail, among the homeless, and with ex-offenders – as well as other improbable existing communities.

The life of Jesus that is evident in those fellowships at the fringes of society is now attracting “normies” to come and be part of their times together. It is amazing to see the spread of the Gospel through those whom society scorns, for the redemption of society.

When you introduce people to the freedom to find and express Christ in them and through them – and thus allow them to relate together as a fully functioning and participatory Body of Christ – Jesus just naturally happens!

Now, instead of having to constantly pump them up with rah-rah meetings …

Instead of having to constantly remind or teach them about Jesus …

Instead of having to be their “covering” or a hierarchical or directing leader …

… we just let them experience Jesus and then give them the freedom to express Jesus one to another in open, participatory meetings as the Holy Spirit directs.

Evangelism? The Great Commission? Vibrant throughout-the-week community? Miracles? Dynamic teachings? A hunger for sound doctrine? Emotional healing? Spiritual gifts? Cultural impact? Yes!

Why? Because Jesus is ALIVE in them!

For me, learning how to introduce people to Jesus (whether at the fringes of society or in a suburban middle class neighborhood – which is toughest “mission” field there is!) means constantly dying to the lie that it’s all up to “me”. Others in our fellowships have learned the same secret.

Only when we die to that lie are we free to allow Jesus to emerge in others, among others and through others – rather than falling back on programs, agendas, traditions, structured missions, an institutional church model, costly infrastructure and budgets, or feeling the impulse to have to make it (whatever “it” is) happen.

As I see Jesus expressed, it blows my mind! Five years ago, I never could have imagined dynamic, participatory and indigenous fellowships in the local jail, among the homeless, or with ex-offenders – or even in uptight suburban middle class neighborhoods!

But there they are – loving Jesus and spreading the life they have in Him.

Let me close with this. The other day I was asked to speak to a group of local, traditional pastors about some of the really amazing counseling we do within our fellowships. That counseling is centered on confession, forgiveness and repentance (see God Shows Up) – as we help people dynamically encounter Jesus and experience His transforming life where before there was only wounding and hurt.

The coordinator for that “pastors” meeting asked me what my title was so he could list me on the agenda. I was caught off guard, and then broke out laughing as I realized that it doesn’t occur to me anymore to think in terms of titles, positions and organizations. Rather, it’s simply Jesus in me, Jesus among us, and Jesus through us.

I apologized for laughing, and explained I had no title or position. That totally discombobulated him.

He then asked for the name of our churches. You know, for the first time, I realized we didn’t have any name. Isn’t that strange? I mean, I just never thought about it and it simply never has come up as an issue among us internally.

So I told him we have no name – that we were just groups of believers who meet together and enjoy throughout-the week community as we are involved in each other’s lives, and that we really hadn’t even thought about needing a name.

That really discombobulated him!

But isn’t that the way of Christ – to make foolish the wisdom of the world?

My prayer is that we all begin to grab hold of and make known to all people “the riches of the glory of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory”! (Col. 1:27)

Why does this seem so difficult to so many?

It really isn’t – at least, not when you understand Who is the beginning, the end, and the means.

~ Jim Wright

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21 responses

  1. Bravo, God is making disciples, instead of men making converts. It’s amazing to see the differences involved, the effortlessness on our own part, (as far as alms is concerned, not works-of-faith) in that each man is true to God, and learns to be led of God as sons, instead of putting on “the show.”

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  2. Awesome post! Most non-believers shy away when you mention religion or your denomination to them. Yea, another sermon, big brother approach, passing judgement, condemning me, etc. etc. etc. However, when you tell them it’s not about religion but your personal relationship with God that the curiosity begins, the mind and heart opens up! Discipleship is contagious as seeds of faith, love and inspiration are sprinkled amongst non-believers! Hmmmmm…. here is a man/woman of God who isn’t coming across as “pure” but humble with the Lord’s presence from within! They now desire to feel good/humble about themselves! Wow, talk about “walking the walk”! Excellent post! DISCIPLESHIP! AMEN!

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  3. Ha Ha Jim. Love the “discombobulated” coordinator.

    What shall we call you and who has sent you? By what authority do you speak?

    I am the voice of one crying in the wilderness, prepare ye the way of the LORD.

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  6. Great post, great thoughts, great truths! It’s all about Jesus. When Jesus is living in us, the church will grow. Thank you for the reminder.

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  7. Great post. So encouraged with how God is working through you, and them!

    Had dinner with a traditional chaplain last week and experienced something similar where they assumed because I did not plant a traditional church that I had not planted churches. When I told them about the churches, they wanted to know their names.

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  8. Jim,

    Great post!

    A couple of questions for you that I would appreciate any insight that you might care to give me on when you get a chance.

    First…is too much participation bad? I mean 1 Corinthians 14 DOES put limits on the participation. Only two or thee tongues speakers, two or three prophets, etc..

    Secondly I am absolutely fed up with Sunday church “going” and would like to see the Lord birth something like what you have seen in my area (San Diego).

    Problem is that no one around me is interested in joining me to do that. It’s like people are content with the usual Sunday thing and have no interest in doing something that will upset the apple cart or something like that I guess (I rightly don’t know what the problem is).

    But I am willing to do whatever it takes within my means. I don’t care anymore. By His grace operating within me I will do what it takes.

    Hand out flyers? Preach on street corners? I don’t care.

    What would you suggest I do?

    Any input would be most appreciated Jim even if you feel a need to correct me publicly in something I have said.

    Carlos

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  9. yes good to read this again.
    this perhaps ties into Carlos’s questions… I think part of the focus should be the unchurched or marginalized or lost or all of them. Go where there is hunger. I’ve come to the place I think if we don’t gravitate towards the lost or rejected at least initially, the risk of failure increases exponentially. If not there has to be an intense culture of laying down pre conceived ideas and getting back to basics… which many say they want but few are willing to pursue.
    my 2cents.

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