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.
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.
- Finding Ekklesia (crossroadjunction.com)