Organic Leadership Conference….

This has been a great trip so far. We have heard from Neil Cole, Reggie McNeal, and Ali Eastburn in the Main Sessions. There have been three workshop segment so far, and Kacey and I have heard Deb Hirsch, Tony & Felicity Dale, and Eric & Kim Lee. (I will add links for all of these later.) We have had some great meals, enjoyed reaquainting with old friends, and engaged some new friends for the journey. It seems as though our experience out here every year becomes richer, deeper, and more meaningful.

Ah-h-h!! 🙂 That sounds so gushy and sentimental, but it is very true. I can also say that Jesus has been lifted up here this week. That is what I love the most about the people of CMA. It isn’t about them. It’s not about what they have done to build this or that, or what they have accomplished for Jesus. It is all about Jesus doing something among them that they can neither fully explain, or take any glory from. They just get to share their stories. Not only that everyone else is encouraged and made to feel free to share their Jesus stories. There is freedom. I haven’t noticed anyone trying to “one-up” the other guy or gal. There is personal humility yet powerful praise for the King. I love this!!

So, I want to take a quick moment to share some thoughts that Father is speaking to me through the stories shared.

  1. We must eradicate any vestige of separation between the secular and sacred. I will probably spend more time on the implications of this concept, but suffice it to say that this mentality safely secures the “Christian” environment away from interacting with the world at large. It has created what some refer to as the “Christian Bubble”. It isolates Jesus followers into “Holy Huddles” and effectively cuts off mission to a lost and dying world. This attitude shaped Christian community far and wide, whether house churches or institutional churches.
  2. We must live intentionally in all that we do. We must stop separating our work sphere, our play sphere, our religious sphere, our household sphere, and so on. All of life comes under the Kingdom of Christ and all that we do is for Him and through Him. Preaching a sermon to a congregation is no more holy than taking the trash out at your office. Serving as a teacher or volunteer in your church is no more righteous than inviting your neighbors over to eat dinner with your family because you want to be neighborly.
  3. We must constantly think of ways to engage our sphere of influence for the Kingdom of Jesus. We don’t need to manufacture false community, Christian activities, or church events. Normally those only serve Christians, even when they are meant and intended to serve the lost. People outside of the church don’t want sympathy and pithy attempts to reel them into our stuff. They want to know us. They want to see us in real life. They need to see that we are real people who care about our world, because whether they are Buddhist, Jewish, Hindu, or nominally “Christian” by name only, they want a better life their children.
  4. We must begin to see consumerism as a god. We must begin to take a serious look at our stuff, our money, our life-style, and our habits to access where our hearts truly are. This is no game. It can no longer be ignored by Christians. Our pursuits of status, wealth, accumulation of stuff, and wasteful spending are unsavory to a holy and jealous God. Father does not like being ignored as we are enamored with our stuff. He doesn’t like to see His creation dying as we live “higher”. This sticks me hard.

I’ll have more…

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4 Responses

  1. Hey Jeff,
    It’s 4 AM can’t sleep, so catching up on all my blog reading. Wow, sounds like a lot of processing going on. Yes, all those points are really about what organic community really means, aren’t they? The life of Christ invading everyday life. Wasn’t that what was so radical about Jesus to begin with? Rather than living some sort of separated life, He lived amongst ordinary people. He could have chosen to spend His time among the religious elite (and it probably would have gone much better for Him, if He had, one of the chief criticisms of Him after all was that He was hanging around too many sinners!) But instead, He chose to spend most of His time with the most unlikely characters. He did stuff like wash feet, which we still tend to over-religicize even when we know it was servant’s work. It was the equivalent of taking out the trash, or washing the dishes or vacuuming the floor. Sometimes I’m amazed that after 2000 years we still don’t get it (and I mean me too! I’m still getting it too!).

    Regarding the last point, I have a somewhat funny tale. A number of years ago, a bunch of leaders of some of the larger house church networks in China met to discuss the future of the church in China. Among other topics, one of the topics they discussed was the “prosperity message” as preached in the U.S. But the interesting thing was when it was translated into Chinese the term “prosperity message” was literally “materialism gospel”. In the end the decision was made to reject the “materialism gospel”. For too long, we have adulterated the message of the True Gospel (self-sacrifice, sacrificial love, etc) with a false message designed to tell us what we want to hear anyway — that it’s okay to endlessly accumulate stuff. Yes, God does give seasons of blessing as well as seasons of suffering, but what ever happened to the sentiment that “he who has 2 coats should give to him who has none”? (Luke 3:11)

    Thanks for the thoughts. Lots to chew on.

  2. Long time, no see. Your #1 seems to contradict #4 if I am understanding you. #1 – get rid of separation in our minds of secular and sacred. Doesn’t sacred mean different? Doesn’t the Bible emphatically teach separation by using the words holy, saint, sanctified? We are to be separate from evil. The Bible often refers to the world as evil. Certainly not all things in the world are vile, but most things in it are. You even stated in #4 that consumerism (which is just a normal every day secular thing) is wrong. Can the person who claims to believe #4 really claim to believe #1?

  3. Hey James!! Good to hear from you. It has been quite a while. I guess my cousin really did get some folks stirred up. Tell everyone I said hello.

    I actually think I answered your question in the post, but I’ll try to clarificate my comments.

    First, I don’t think “consumerism” is a “normal every day secular thing” as you stated. It is a religion. It is the worship of stuff. It is idolatry. Consuming is not wrong. We all consume, but “consumerism” is a problem.

    What I was refering to in #1 is our tendency to label certain things “Christian” and other things “secular”. (i.e. music, places, jobs, schools, books, political views, food, etc.) We, especailly Christians, tend to compartmentalize our life into things that are “secular” and things that are “Christian”. The Christian stuff is more special, holy, acceptable. The secular stuff is not necessarily wrong, it is just separate from the more “holy” Christian stuff. Why is this a problem? SImply because it becomes easier to be a “Christian” on Sundays, and whatever else the rest of the week. We we get together with our Christian friends, at a Christian meeting, in a Christian building, singing Christian songs, listening to Christian speakers talk about Christian stuff, dressed in Christian clothes, on a Christian day of the week, using Christian words, studying Christian literature, and reading Christian books, while driving cars with Christian bumper stickers, etc., etc., etc., it is easy to be a “Christian”. We can easily live in a Christian bubble fully separated from the world. For many Christians this thought is 100% correct and good. Some would argue that this is the way it should be. We should be separate from the world. We should focus on doing “Christian” stuff. The only problem with this is: it isn’t very Christ-like. This was not the life Jesus lived. Read the Gospels. Who did Jesus interact with? What was He accused of? Who hated Him the most? Who longed to be in His presence? Who was Jesus sent to, and ,ultimately, who are we sent to?

    To answer your questions:

    Doesn’t sacred mean different?

    Yes. My point is that all things come under the dominion of Christ. We must stop thinking that Jesus only works within the confines of our “Christian” stuff. It may freak church folks out, but Jesus isn’t limited to working within the confines of our “Christian” sub-cultures. He is out there to amazing things without the, gasp…the church.

    Doesn’t the Bible emphatically teach separation by using the words holy, saint, sanctified?

    Yes. I never said otherwise. Again, I am not saying that everything in the world is good. We, as followers of Jesus, belong to a separate Kingdom. It is a Kingdom that infiltrates every other kingdom on earth and is ruled the King of kings. We understand that this Kingdom will not be fully realized and seen until the return of Jesus, but we are it’s ambassadors today. We should be bringing the Kingdom into the kingdoms of the world everyday. This was Yahweh’s orginal intent with the nation of Israel. They failed to do it. Rather they turned to false god’s, and kept God’s Word from the world. They even built a big ol’ building and decided that was where God would be. Sad, really.

    My question: why do you perceive that “most” things in the world are “evil”? What leads you to believe this? When the Bible speaks of the world being “evil” is is nearly always (contextually) refering to the world system, not literally the physical world.

    Finally, you asked, Can the person who claims to believe #4 really claim to believe #1?

    Yes. I think I have explained that.

    Thanx!!

  4. This conversation has now moved to private emails. If I feel that any of it turns out to be relevent, I will post it on here.

    Please feel free to continue making comments…

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