Thursday, July 28, 2005

Worth Pondering

Kevin Rains posted this on his blog recently:

"Gordon Cosby said something a few years back that haunts me. He said that in all his years of service he has never (and he emphasized 'never') seen a group go from community to mission. Rather, he said one should organize around mission and community will follow. I'm paraphrasing but that is the basic idea. This haunts becasue most things I have done over the past 10 years have been attempts to create community that will eventually be on mission together." (to read the rest, go to http://kevinrains.com/.)

That statement may haunt me for awhile, also.

I'm not sure if it's completely true (I really do believe that often D leads to N leads to A) --- yet, then again, there may be something in that statement that is worth pondering.

11 Comments:

Blogger Greg said...

ok, it is strange to comment on your own post, but a thought has come to me. maybe my belief that D (connection to God) leads to N (connection to each other / community) leads to A (apostolic mission) is flawed in that it is buys into our cultural individualism. maybe the truth is more like this: D leads to A which leads to N. what i'm really trying to say is that perhaps God transforms people as they interact together on mission instead of just transforming individuals so that they will go find each other and then decide to go on mission. still not saying it right, but the thoughts are in my head.

11:16 PM  
Blogger Andrew said...

While I have the utmost respect for Rains, I tend to disagree a bit. The one thing that I have learned is that you can never sum up God’s movement into a catch praise. It is a too much like mass marketing and sales of which I despise when it comes to my Father. True, we have learned a great deal from the DNA theory, the green house theory and all other sorts of acronyms but I think that it all boils down to man trying to focus on man’s needs instead of seeing what Father is doing and go there. Remember that man will always try to manipulate men when it comes to comfort. I say that if you keep your eyes on Father you are bound to recognize others that are doing the same and if for some reason you have yet to find someone, what have you lost?

I miss you deeply. The philosophical conversations we had still keep me going.

11:49 PM  
Blogger Joe said...

I've been thinking that we need to define mission as love. What if what we (perhaps errantly) have labeled the Great Comission was seen more as a commandment...something we just do out of obedience: teach, baptize, make disciples as we go. And what if we viewed the Great Commandment as our mission...to love. Then I can agree with this statement. Our mission is to love each other (and strangers) and God, and thus any group without this mission will fail. It really is holistic. I guess I'm thinking the N and A (and probably the D) are all the same thing: love.

1:31 AM  
Blogger Phil said...

Greg, I agree more or less with your post and with your comment.

Andrew, your statements (e.g. "man focusing on man's needs . . . men will always try to manipulate men" seem to be more of a catch-phrase theology than things like "DNA." I say this because your statements are self-referential, while the "DNA" types of statements made by Greg automatically reference larger, more nuanced, theological systems of thought. Furthermore, it seems you may have down the concept of the fallenness of man, but somehow this doesn't lead you to see that this applies not only to institutional ventures and group activities/plans, but also to individuals in their attempts to "see what Father is doing" and to "keep [their] eyes on Father." In short, you seem to be assuming that humans are fallen when they do things together, but as individuals, they can truly find God, see what he is doing, recognize other individuals who are doing likewise. This belief in the potential of the individual, in stark contrast to the complete and total depravity of the community, leads you to make the incredible statement that nothing is lost if the individual never finds someone else. Now, you're thoughts may be correct; who is to say? But one thing is for sure, they have little to do with Biblical Christianity or historic Christianity (i'm sure the loss of historic Christianity doesn't bother you because nobody but the individual matters, so who cares about 2000 years of church history? It's probably just 2000 years of "mens" attempts to manipulate other "men") but is eerily similar to the constant message of MTV: don't trust authority, institutions, the elderly, but trust in yourself, for you can do anything. Unlike MTV, you might throw the word "God" into the mix and say he is really doing it, but isn't it nice to know that you, as the individual, have the exclusive power for seeing what God is up to. Just like MTV told us, with this catch phrase theological vision, you'll never have to answer to an institution or anybody you don't want to (because they're just "men" trying to manipulate people. Sorry for being harsh, but sometimes I just get pissed off at shitty theology (and Greg even mentioned the whole problem is our obsession with the individual).

Joe, I like you're comments, but I think they're missing something. I don't know how to articulate that something yet, so I'll refrain from trying.

1:09 PM  
Blogger Sherry said...

God Rocks!

2:23 PM  
Blogger Cheryl said...

I am haunted also by this statement and thought about posting a link on my blog. I'm glad you did it.
I unfortunately, think it is completely true. I think we might be Object Lesson Number 1 of that fact.
I also agree with Joe about the love stuff. Which brings me back to a comment I started saying and believing more than a year ago- "We simply do not love each other enough. We say that is our focus and yet people leave because we did not love them." Or they freakin' move!!!! Sorry.
I obviously need to think on this some more.

4:52 PM  
Blogger Greg said...

first, i'm glad that this post generated some meaningful dialogue. i am gleaning much from the depth of everyone's responses.

second, i'm glad some of you live in different states from each other so you can't come to blows! kidding, of course. i think we all love each other in spite of our diversity of thought.

and, i think God is working in us as we try to grasp something together.

6:26 PM  
Blogger Amy said...

From a very young age we are taught to “love your neighbors as yourself”. The big push is to make kids understand “who our neighbors really are”. What if we taught our kids that by loving ourselves we make sure we are fed, dressed, cleaned and kept healthy and by doing those things for others is truly loving them?

I guess to me it's just all too simple. I think the problem we have is that we talk about "loving people" but we don't understand that loving is an action not a feeling. I don't think you can truly love someone without serving them in some way. A mother could sit all day on the couch and say how much she "loves" her new baby, but if she never fed it, diapered, it or touched it we would all call her a liar.

I can remember a very heated discussion that some of us had four years or so ago about service. Some were arguing that “service” is a gift. You either have it or you don’t. I still believe as I did then that love/service/mission can’t be separated.

Cheryl maybe your statement should say “We simply don’t serve one another enough.”

As far as D, N, A, B, C or Q…. I can only share that from my own experiences. My closest friends have come out of groups of people that are working on a common purpose or goal be it homeschooling, sharing a house, being married, digging in dirt or scraping up old carpet…. (You all know who you are).

This is a great discussion; maybe it should be moved to the Apex forums page for all to share in.

7:20 PM  
Blogger Andrew said...

Get as pissed off as you want I’ll still love you.

Dangit I miss you Phill. I swear I could talk to you for an afternoon and ponder it for a lifetime. When it comes to writing my thoughts I tend to me misunderstood – a lot. When I wrote that I was referring to the Greenhouse seminars and the like that we had experienced. I’m not saying that “humans are fallen when they do things together” not at all. What I was referring to was the marketing that I saw in a lot of the teaching. The focus was how can we start 500 churches for God in two weeks (while that was not the meat of the teachings, it was inevitably the point). If what I am catching on to what Hubbard and Cosby (you like that Greg? ;) ) are referring to is that if God could be seen as the Mission or the goal (or the focus) then community will naturally follow and this is exactly what I believe.

When I try to do something for God I, by nature, tend to make a mess of it – mostly because I am trying to get Him to do something (here’s a catch phrase “I’ll do A, B and C in order to get God to do D”). Heck, I could tell you many stories of my little, once big, house church; where we had a senior pastor, a worship pastor, outreach pastor, and even a children’s pastor for all of 20 people. The church was my goal and my teaching skills sucked (still do). However, when I see God move, well, I’d much rather be a part of that any day.

And another thing….
The whole “if for some reason you have yet to find someone, what have you lost?” thing was a reference to the situation that I am currently in. We just moved a few months ago and desperately miss our family in Vegas.

So next time keep in mind that I am on your side and that I too have had a few years of school under my belt and I’m not spouting off some ignorant theology that I pulled out of my butt. I’m not an individualist by know stretch of the imagination and if you ask those in Vegas that know me they will say the same.

Love,
Andrew

7:42 PM  
Blogger DC said...

I'm not one to blindly agree with my wife, but Amy hits on an important facet of this discussion: simplicity. The two great laws - love God and love people are where we should begin. Loving God should beget loving people. Loving people should beget community. Community grows deep around a common mission. I think we become confused when we feel guilty that we can't identify some glorious, religious mission in our midst. I encourage every one to search for their individual mission and seek ways to share it with the community. I've seen examples of this in Apex.

Sometimes serving one another is missional. My friend Dan who is an elder at The Crossing (a Christian Church - inside joke that some of you get) went to Afghanistan for a few months. While he was gone, the church did a makeover on his house - new floors, paint, appliances, etc. Wow. How is that missional? Dan's neighbors know about it, even witnessed the work going on. The guys Dan works with heard about it too. The church, through serving this humble man, put out a witness to a good-sized group of unbelievers that will be hard for them to reconcile outside of the kingdom. People in the U.S. today are not accustomed to seeing selfless acts like those with which we serve each other.

A more traditional form of mission can also be found in our midst. Mo is a missionary. God has burdened her with a longing to love people on the other side of the world. She shares this burden with us. The degree to which we participate is up to us. Suzy knows this all too well. She shared her heart for India and other far reaches with her community and we responded. Lives were changed. Some of our members have a burden for the children and single mothers of Las Vegas.

Each of us should ask God for our purpose. If He wills, we will know the journey He sets before us. Sharing this with our community brings others along side of us in a common purpose. This is where communal mission takes shape.

All of that said, I caution us all not to seek fulfillment from works. If this discussion is borne of our personal lack of fulfillment, we're in danger. Let’s all pray that our fulfillment is in God only. Then we will be able to see where He would have us go. I agree with Phil that it’s best when the church acts as one. I believe that He has put us together for a purpose. If that’s true, then He will give us directions. The same burdens will mystically appear in our hearts and we will be primed for action. Please don’t try to force mission to happen, because even good works when they are ours, not his are rubbish.

Did I mention how much I miss you all?

Much love,
Dave

8:39 PM  
Blogger Gregg said...

I'm not sure why anyone would be "haunted" by what Gordon Cosby thinks. I have enjoyed the interesting banter on the subject and think that alone is healthy for a community. I had so many thoughts on this subject but Heidi shared this Oswald Chambers devotional that pretty much summed up my thoughts as well. . . do you love Me? . . . Tend My sheep
—John 21:16

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Jesus did not say to make converts to your way of thinking, but He said to look after His sheep, to see that they get nourished in the knowledge of Him. We consider what we do in the way of Christian work as service, yet Jesus Christ calls service to be what we are to Him, not what we do for Him. Discipleship is based solely on devotion to Jesus Christ, not on following after a particular belief or doctrine. "If anyone comes to Me and does not hate . . . , he cannot be My disciple" ( Luke 14:26 ). In this verse, there is no argument and no pressure from Jesus to follow Him; He is simply saying, in effect, "If you want to be My disciple, you must be devoted solely to Me." A person touched by the Spirit of God suddenly says, "Now I see who Jesus is!"— that is the source of devotion.

Today we have substituted doctrinal belief for personal belief, and that is why so many people are devoted to causes and so few are devoted to Jesus Christ. People do not really want to be devoted to Jesus, but only to the cause He started. Jesus Christ is deeply offensive to the educated minds of today, to those who only want Him to be their Friend, and who are unwilling to accept Him in any other way. Our Lord’s primary obedience was to the will of His Father, not to the needs of people— the saving of people was the natural outcome of His obedience to the Father. If I am devoted solely to the cause of humanity, I will soon be exhausted and come to the point where my love will waver and stumble. But if I love Jesus Christ personally and passionately, I can serve humanity, even though people may treat me like a "doormat." The secret of a disciple’s life is devotion to Jesus Christ, and the characteristic of that life is its seeming insignificance and its meekness. Yet it is like a grain of wheat that "falls into the ground and dies"— it will spring up and change the entire landscape ( John 12:24 ).

2:57 AM  

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