5 Reasons Not to Be Judgmental Though Many More Could Be Added!

Something that I say all the time is that when young adults think of Christians the most common word they associate with us is “judgmental.”

Not only do I say it…but I’ve written about many times and I’ve even recorded a podcast on it as well.

And add to all of that the fact that one of my favorite Christian authors and missional practitioners, Hugh Halter, wrote an excellent book on the topic called Brimstone: The Art and Act of Holy Nonjudgment.

In other words, I’ve been thinking about this topic a lot lately.  And the question I’ve been pondering lately is this: Why should we not be judgmental, especially since we’re so tempted to be?

Defining “Judgmental”

Before we can really dig in, we must figure out what it means to be judgmental?

I intend for this post (and the blog generally) to be most useful for followers of Jesus, so my comments will be colored by this intention.

With that said, I think it will be helpful to say a few things that I DON’T mean when I use the word “judgmental.”

  • I don’t mean holding a fellow believer accountable if s/he has asked you to do so.  This arrangement is agreed upon by both parties and is intended for mutual benefit.  So it’s not judgmental to mention something about the actions, habits, and language of someone who has agreed to be held accountable by us.
  • I don’t mean having strong opinions about what is sinful and what is not based on various texts from the Bible.  That’s perfectly fine and it’s helpful for those of us who have chosen to follow Jesus to know what may or may not please him (the key phrase there is “for those of us who have chosen to follow Jesus”).
  • And lastly, I don’t mean observing cultural patterns and then identifying which ones are edifying for you and your family and which ones are not.  As a follower of Jesus, it’s your right (and duty even) to ensure that your family is exposed to the right sorts of things.  But, again, this sort of social sorting and labeling should be reserved for internal use as followers of Jesus.

What do I mean by “judgmental” then?

Being judgmental as a follower of Jesus is applying the expectation of obedience to biblical ideals that comes with following Jesus on those who do not yet follow Jesus and/or calling out the actions, habits, and language of a specific, fellow follower of Jesus without having entered into an accountability agreement.

Why Is Being Judgmental to Be Avoided?

While there are many, many, many reasons, here are five good ones!

  1. Being judgmental doesn’t work because we don’t have all the info. If someone is doing something that we deem wrong and we say something about it to them, whether they are not yet a follower of Jesus or not in an accountability agreement, then we are presuming that we know the whole situation.  We are pretending that we know their backstory and all the antecedent decisions that led up the current situation.  We’re also assuming that we know their intent, i.e., their heart.  Let’s be honest, the one huge problem with being judgmental is that in so doing we are presupposing a bunch of knowledge to which no human being has direct and easy access.
  2. Being judgmental is overstepping our job description as followers of Jesus.  Who told us that it was our collective and individual duty to pay attention to everyone else and be sure to point out all the things that we find wrong or inappropriate?  We do, however, have a pretty clear job description in the Bible.  Jesus tells us that we are to do three primary things: 1) love God, 2) love others, and 3) make disciples (Matthew  22.36-40, 28.19-20).  Nowhere in that job description exists the idea of being judgmental.  In fact, there is one who has the job of being the judge, and that person is Jesus (2 Timothy 4.1).
  3. Being judgmental fails the Golden Rule quite horribly.  In Luke 6.31 Jesus sums up much of his teaching in one tight little thought: “Do to others as you would have them do to you.”  Thus, let’s ask ourselves this question: Do we want someone peeping into our lives like a creep in order to catch us in a mistake or sin, intentional or not?  What about this question: Do we want to be held to a standard we haven’t agreed to or be put under scrutiny that isn’t consensual?  Friends, if we don’t want these things done to us (and no one really does who is being honest!), why then do we feel we have the right to do them to others?
  4. Being judgmental breaks a direct command in the Bible.  In Matthew 7.1 Jesus says these famous words: “Do not judge, or you too will be judged. For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.”  So when we judge others we are actively going against a direct command from Jesus!  And besides that, we’re inviting the judgment of others on us as well (“or you too will be judged” and all of verse 2!).  So instead of breaking this clear command, wouldn’t it be better for all of us to zip our lips when it comes to judging others?
  5. Being judgmental really kills our ability to be and share the good news.  Think about it: If we want someone to respond positively to the good news of Jesus and his kingdom, wouldn’t we want NOT to judge them?  Because if we are judgmental, they will sense it, and just like us, they won’t like it.  And they ARE sensing it.  Remember that study I mentioned at the beginning of this post?  In it the researchers found that 87% of young adults thought that Christians were judgmental.  87%!  That’s insane!  If we keep it up at this pace we’re never going to be able to share the good news with anyone because they’ll be so tired of all the bad news we keep spewing!

 

What do you think?  Why shouldn’t we be judgmental?  Let me know in the comments below!

#TimeForChange: New Wine Podcast #020

Why is a willingness to change important for those Christians who are seeking to be missional?

Here are a few of the resources that I mentioned in this episode:

I answer this question in my latest podcast.  You can listen to it on the bottom of this post, on iTunes, or on Stitcher.

If you like it, would you please rate it and even leave a review on iTunes or Stitcher?  That would be super cool!

Also, if you’d like to help support the creative process that helps bring this podcast to life, then please check out my Patreon page (http://patreon.com/JMatthewBarnes).  There are some fun rewards there for folks who pledge support although any level support will be greatly appreciated!

Thanks!

#Humility: New Wine Podcast #008

Perhaps a working definition of humility would go something like this: Having an honest appraisal of oneself that allows for the interests of others to pursued and deepens the desire for this pursuit.

So humility doesn’t mean lying about your accomplishments because you don’t want to seem too arrogant.  And it doesn’t mean trying not to achieve anything of value for fear of accolades.  And humility doesn’t mean having false humility when someone give you praise.

You can listen to it on the bottom of this post, on iTunes, or on Stitcher.

If you like it, would you please rate it and even leave a review on iTunes or Stitcher?  That would be super cool!

Thanks!

 

 

#Community: New Wine Podcast #005

This is the fifth New Wine podcast and here’s what we’ll do this time: We’ll chat about what community has to do with being sent – that is, are we sent alone or with others and why does this matter?

 

I answer this question in my latest podcast.  You can listen to it on the bottom of this post, on iTunes, or on Stitcher.

If you like it, would you please rate it and even leave a review on iTunes or Stitcher?  That would be super cool!

Thanks!

 

Also, here are a list of links that you may find helpful after having listened to the podcast:

 

 

Ash Wednesday

What is Ash Wednesday?

Ash Wednesday is the first day of Lent and Lent is an ancient Christian tradition of having a season of fasting and meditation prior to Easter.

Ash Wednesday

By: Tim

Since the Church is made up of such a diverse set of people, some of us will be very familiar with Ash Wednesday and others won’t be familiar with it much at all.

Some of us grew up in faith contexts where Ash Wednesday was highly emphasized, even ritualized. And because of this we may have very strong associations with it from our past, whether positive or negative.

And others of us, like me, grew up in contexts where Ash Wednesday was hardly mentioned and never observed. And because of this we may very drawn toward or repelled away from it.

Either way, we observe Ash Wednesday as Christians, not out of obligation or tradition. Nor do we observe it to show others how holy and amazing we are as we go about our days after having received ashes.

No, there’s is a deeper reason why we commemorate Ash Wednesday – it is a reminder to us that the brilliant joy of Easter doesn’t come without a great cost.

That cost is that the sinless one, Jesus Christ, had to become sin for us. There could be no greater cost than that.

So Ash Wednesday is the beginning of the time where we examine why Jesus had to pay that cost. And the “Ash” in Ash Wednesday gives us a good clue as to why Jesus had to pay that cost.

In the Bible ashes have two primary associations: 1) one who is repentant would apply ashes to him or herself as a sign of repentance; and 2) the other is that we are mortal: From dust we came and to dust we will return.

So during Lent, and especially on Ash Wednesday, we remember that Jesus paid a great cost to deal with our twin problems of sin and death.

Let’s take an honest look at ourselves, our mortality and sinfulness, and let’s remember the hope found in Jesus that he is making all things new!


Honesty

Friends, Ash Wednesday is all about honesty…and let’s get real for a minute: being honest can be hard. Let me give you two examples from my life:

When I was probably in second grade I wanted to get a toy that was on the top shelf of my book shelf. So I would climb up the book shelf in order to reach it. When my parents would see me doing this they would tell me to stop because they didn’t want me to fall and get hurt. Well, as you probably have guessed already, I continued to go for that toy on the top shelf anyway. On one particular occasion I climbed up and reached for the toy…grabbed it…and the whole shelf and all of its contents fell on top of me! I cried for help, “Daddy help me! Help me!” And when my Dad came in the room he asked me what happened. I thought for a second and said, “I don’t know…the shelf just fell on me, Dad!”

Another time that being honest was hard was when I had just begun learning to cook after my wife and I were married. The first thing I ever made was a pasta dish that was really yummy! The next day I decided to go big and tried to make stuffed pork loin. I plated the meal and sat it out on the table and it looked great! But when we bit into it was dry as a bleached bone in the sun! After a minute or two my wife looked up at me and lied, saying, “Honey, this is really good!” even though it was more like ten-year old piece of beef jerky than a stuffed pork loin!

Being honest can be tough. And being honest about ourselves and our failings can be especially difficult. So as we observe Ash Wednesday, we might have a hard time being honest about our sinfulness and our mortality. We might not really want to take a long, hard look in the proverbial mirror because we know who will be looking back at us.

But that’s what Ash Wednesday is all about, an honest appraisal of our human condition. And it was this human condition that necessitated that Jesus pay the staggering price he paid for us at Calvary.

In Mark 1.15 we find the basic message of Jesus’ teaching, his mission statement if you will. The following words are found there: “The time has come,” he said. “The kingdom of God has come near. Repent and believe the good news!”

For the rest of this blog I simply want to look at three parts of this verse in light of Ash Wednesday: the kingdom of God, repentance, and believing the good news.

Kingdom of God

Let’s start with the kingdom of God. This phrase does not refer solely to heaven or the afterlife. Nor does it refer to a physical location with borders and a castle. No. Instead it refers to the reality of the rule of God that Jesus inaugurated when he was alive and that he will bring to fruition when he returns.

The kingdom of God is something that those of us who follow Jesus as king demonstrate with our lives. Those of us who live as subjects of King Jesus are called to live our lives like he really is our king – lives of worship, lives of community, and lives of service; lives of love for God and others.

When viewed in light of Ash Wednesday, we are reminded of the way in which we were allowed to be subjects of King Jesus – he died for us, paving the way for us to become citizens of his kingdom.

So in light of this great grace that has been offered to us, what should we do? We should repent and believe the good news. That’s what Jesus said in Mark 1.15.

And, if you’re like me, then you may be thinking something like this: I repented and believed a long time ago when I first accepted Jesus as my lord and savior. And while that first confession is very important, our repentance and believing doesn’t stop there!

Repent

So in light of Ash Wednesday, let’s repent, which means to turn from our ways and toward God’s ways. Let’s repent of the bad things we’ve done, the good we’ve left undone, and the systemic injustices we’ve let slide. Let’s repent of our broken, sinful natures and begin to become more like Jesus through the work and power of the Spirit!

And let’s repent of all the ways we’ve not been honest about our sinfulness and mortality. Let’s repent of pretending to be perfect. Let’s repent of letting our fear of death consume us.

As I was writing this I found this beautiful prayer, which is adapted from Isaiah 58:

We have chosen to fast, not with ashes but with actions, not with sackcloth but in sharing, not in thoughts but in deeds. We will give up our abundance to share our food, home, and friendship. We will share where others hoard. We will free where others oppress. We will heal where others harm. Then God’s light will break out. God’s healing will come. We will find our joy in the Lord. We will be like a well-watered garden. We will be called repairers of broken walls. Together we will feast at God’s banquet table. (From Godspace; slightly altered)

That’s the kind of repentance that Ash Wednesday brings to my mind – turning from our selfish ways and turning toward God’s giving ways.

Believe the Good News

But we’re still left with “believing the good news” in Mark 1.15. In light of Ash Wednesday, what does it mean to believe the good news?

For starters, “believe” isn’t the best translation of the word that Jesus used. In Greek one word stands behind the three English verbs: believe, have faith, and trust. And in most cases, the best translation of this one Greek verb is “trust.”

So what does it mean to trust the good news, especially in light of Ash Wednesday? Well, trust is an active word; it’s not something that I can just do only in my head. Trust requires action.

Living a life that demonstrates that we trust the good news will look like more and more like the life that Jesus lived when he was here on earth. One of my favorite authors, Hugh Halter, says it best: A disciple of Jesus is someone who lives the human life of Jesus in his or her human life.

How do we do that? It’s much simpler than we’ve made it over the years.

Lenten Challenge

In fact, to prove my point I want give you a challenge…

During Lent this year make this your fast: Fall in love with Jesus anew. Each and every day read through half a chapter of Matthew, Mark, Luke, or John. Jot down things that you see Jesus doing. How is he treating others? What does he talk about? What actions does he take? What does he seem care about? Then pray for the Holy Spirit to help you become more like Jesus today than you were yesterday. Ask God to create opportunities for you to demonstrate your trust in the good news where you live, where you work, and where you play.

Treat people like you see Jesus treating people in the Scriptures.

Talk about the things you see Jesus talking about.

Do the things you see Jesus doing.

Care about the stuff you see Jesus caring about.

So on this Ash Wednesday it’s time we were honest with ourselves. We need to live like Jesus is our king by repenting and trusting in the good news! As we look back into our lives and see pain, sin, death, and brokenness, let’s not forget that Jesus died for us so that we could live for him!

Let’s do that brothers and sisters – Let’s live for him!

 

For more, check out my podcast on iTunes and Stitcher or subscribe to my YouTube channel.  Thanks!

The Watching World

The World Is Watching

People are watching folks who follow Jesus.  They see what we are doing.  They’re watching how we live.  They notice us.

Why does this simple fact — that the world is watching — matter?

Well, it matters because our words communicate some but our lives speak much more.  Dr. Albert Mehrabian, author of Silent Messages, has studied this matter a lot and has determined that 93% of communication is nonverbal (body language, nonverbal vocal cues, etc.).  That’s crazy!

Think about that for a minute.  What we do and how we do it communicates a ton, way more than our actual words do!

So what does this mean?  Well, this is not a call to legalism.  You may be thinking, “But if what we do matters to people, then shouldn’t we always behave uber-properly, so that they get a good view of Jesus?

Here’s my short answer: “No” and “Yes.”

Here’s the longer answer: “No” because if we get focused on the details of doing what we think is right (or what we’re told is right) people see that too.  They’ll pick up really quickly that we care more about doing what’s proper than we do about people.  And “Yes” because behaving ethically and in ways that promote justice are centrally important.  Ethics and the pursuit of justice are different than following rules out of obligation.  Why?  Because ethics and seeking justice have to do with making sure that other people in the world are taken care of (Phil 2.3-4), whereas legalistic behavior is inherently self-centered.

People will see the difference.  They’ll notice if we’re following rules because doing so is right or if we’re seeking the best for others despite whatever personal cost there may be.

An Example of Living While the World Is Watching

Who can serve as a good example of living an others-centered life well while the world is watching?  None other than Jesus!

Check this out: “During the Passover feast in Jerusalem, the crowds were watching Jesus closely; and many began to believe in Him because of the signs He was doing” (John 2.23 in The Voice**).

Did you see that?  People were watching Jesus too.  They saw his life.  They observed the signs he performed.  They saw his love for his close friends.  They witnessed his miracles and concern for the marginalized.  And, of course, they heard his teaching.

And what did people see Jesus do in John 2?  They saw him turn water into wine, thus preventing a wedding party from being lame and bringing shame on the groom and his family, and they saw him exercise his passion for proper worship and justice when he cleared out the temple.

They saw Jesus’ actions, actions which were for the benefit of others.  John also says that people saw other signs he was doing, and if these unspecified signs were anything like all of Jesus’ other signs, then they too were done for the benefit of others.

Here’s the crux: People saw what Jesus was doing, and when the watching world looked at him they saw him living for the benefit of others.

What Does the Watching World See in Us?

The answer to this question has been studied quite a bit.  Here’s what researchers have found: When people are asked to describe Christians they saw we are judgmental (87%), hypocritical (85%), old-fashioned (78%), and too involved in politics (75%).

The fairness of the criticisms may be unfair.  But what is not up for debate is that these descriptors are what people see in us.  This is how the watching world describes us.

This situation is sad, of course.  But all hope is not lost.

One relationship at a time with people who are watching us, we can change people’s opinions.  We can be accepting the way that Jesus was.  We can be less judgmental and more loving.  We can learn to be shockproof when we encounter messed up stuff in the world.  We can be more open and honest about our own sinfulness.  We can stop pretending we have it all together and that we have all the answers.

In short, we can live others-focused lives the way Jesus did.  To paraphrase a theme from one of my favorite books, Flesh: Bringing the Incarnation Down to Earth, by one of my favorite authors, Hugh Halter: A follower of Jesus is a person who lives Jesus’ human life in his or her human life.

How do we live Jesus’ human life?  Well, we need to find out how Jesus lived by reading about his life in the Gospels: Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John.  Then we need to gather some friends around us who also want to live Jesus’ life in their lives and start doing the things we see Jesus doing.  We need to pray for each other, celebrate together, hold each other accountable, and encourage one another.

I can’t emphasize this enough: DON’T TRY THIS ALONE.  Jesus, the Second Person of the Trinity, didn’t even try this alone!  What makes you or me think that we can do it?  Here’s a good place for you and your friends to start together: The Tangible Kingdom Primer, by Hugh Halter and Matt Smay.

So, the watching world is watching us closely.  What are they seeing?  And what can we do about it?

 

** The Voice is a newer translation of the Bible that I highly recommend.  It was put together by a team of biblical scholars and artists, so it is faithful to the original languages (Hebrew, Aramaic, and Greek) but it is written in very easy-to-read English.  This is a perfect Bible to give as a gift to someone who is part of the watching world who gets interested in Jesus!

 

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The Ghost of Church Present: Part Three (A Missional Response)

My wife, parents, and I recently watched a stage production of Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol.  As I watched it I couldn’t help but imagine what the ghosts of church past, present, and future might say to those of us who follow Jesus.  Last week I looked into the revelations from the ghost of church past (Part OnePart Two, and Part Three).  And this week we’ll hear from the ghost of church present (here’s Part One and Part Two).

A Missional Response

So the ghost of Christmas present showed us that the US is a mission field in need of fresh encounters with the gospel and that many of our churches are not responding to this reality all that well.  There are some, however, who are.

Here’s one such example: Adullam in Denver, Colorado.

A missional congregation in Denver

From Adullam’s Website

Adullam’s lead pastor is Hugh Halter, the author of Tangible Kingdom.  In his book Hugh tells the story of how God helped reignite the missional fire in him and how he and his ministry partner Matt Smay, along with their families, reluctantly planted a church in Denver.  In this post I want to explore how Hugh and Matt have led Adullam to be a community with a missional impulse.  (The source for all the material below is either my memory of reading Tangible Kingdom or the “About Adullam” page on their site.)

  • Missional Vision — Here’s Adullam’s vision statement: “Adullam is a congregational network of incarnational communities that are apprenticing kingdom people” (form the “About Adullam” page).  So, their centering values all lean toward being missional and away from being attractional.
  • Discipleship is the Engine — Did you note the word “apprenticing” in Adullam’s vision statement?  This is their code word for “discipleship.”  The purpose in shying away from the word “discipleship” is, in my estimation, because it is too churchy and has come to mean something (classroom-style, cognitive learning) that it doesn’t mean in the New Testament (learning from a respected person by living life together).  Thus, Adullam is saying that apprenticeship is the engine that drives them into their mission field.  Without it, there’s no evangelism, no growth, no conversions, no leadership development, etc.
  • Focus on Being the Church — You probably also noted that Adullam’s vision statement doesn’t use the word “church.”  This had to be intentional!  Instead we find the words “congregation” and “incarnational communities” and “people.”  Their focus is clearly not to become a place for people to come and receive spiritual goods and services (which is how I define our attractional understanding of “church”) and is instead on being the church.
  • Praxis, Praxis, Praxis! — Adullam also says that their explicit goal is to make the kingdom of God tangible.  By this, as you can read in Tangible Kingdom, Hugh means living out the good news in the lives of people.  This means serving, having fun, and, yes, talking about God too.  But it means all those things, not just the last one!  Thus, the people at Adullam are trained to and expected to express their love for God and their neighbors in real-life, real-world ways.
  • Symptoms of an Apprentice — Furthermore, Adullam spells out very clearly what the life of an apprentice of the kingdom looks like: 1) They’ll be involved in inclusive community; 2) They’ll experience communion with God (together, in smaller communities, and as individuals); and 3) They’ll be on mission for God in Denver.
  • Incarnation – You may have also noticed how much Adullam uses the word “incarnation.”  Their informed belief is that “the best environment for the kingdom to appear tangible is in the context of an incarnational community” (form the “About Adullam” page).  By “incarnation” they mean being Jesus in their own communities — in essence, enfleshing the gospel of the kingdom of God where the live, work, and play.  This is a missional way of thinking that stands in direct opposition to the attractional mindset that says “If we build it, then they will come.”
  • Discouraging Consumerism — Being a consumer Christian (meaning a follower of Jesus who just wants to be fed with as little effort as possible, whether on purpose or subconsciously) would be really hard at Adullam.  They don’t always meet together.  The purpose of their times of gathering is to be a blessing to the kids and for their various missional communities to connect.  In fact, Adullam is so serious about discouraging consumerism that they provide links to other churches in the Denver area where folks might find a better fit.  That is revolutionary!

Adullam is just one example among many that are out there.  Now, in fact, there are even missional networks that help congregation figure out how to get on mission together.  A few of these networks are Missio Alliance, Verge, Forge America, and Acts 29.  Now is a great time to start being more missional!  What are we waiting for?!?

Do you know of some more missional responses the reality of the American mission field?  Let me know in the comments!

 

Missional Beginnings

How did this all start for me?  How did the passion for having a missional posture and incarnational habits begin in me?

Well, it all started for me just about a month ago at Exponential West.  Exponential is a church-planting network that hosts conferences during which folks from all over the world come to get inspired and to learn.  This year the theme was “Discipleshift” — helping churches make disciples.  I was asked to go by Lake Avenue Church, where I am a member, congregational leader, and a part-time, temporary staff member.  The work that I do at Lake is specifically connected with discipleship and my role as a congregational leader is as part of a leadership team for a diverse group of young adults called Crossroads.  In other words, I am fully invested in discipleship at Lake.

So I went to the conference with some other folks from Lake, both staff and non-staff members.  From the very first session that I attended to the last I was blown away!  A simple and basic theme ran through everything — we need to get back to what’s centrally important: making disciples.  Sounds pretty simple and I think that almost all of us would agree with that basic premise.

But our churches just aren’t doing a good job of making disciples anymore. I talked about this some in a previous blog entitled New Wine?. But to reiterate, basically the churches in the U.S. that are growing are growing thanks to transfer growth and most churches in the U.S. aren’t baptizing any new believers who don’t have familial connections with the church already.

But making disciples is more than just making new disciples; it also involves helping those who are already following the risen Jesus follow him better. Our primary means of facilitating this growth in most churches in the U.S. has been through cognitive learning done at the church. Now there’s nothing wrong with cognitive learning!  But the truth is that it simply is not enough on its own. Why not? Because there are different types of learners. Because cognitive learning does not always lead to different behavioral habits. Because some people who want to follow Jesus need to learn within intimate community and/or in experiential, hands-on kind of ways.

Also, a second common theme at Exponential West was that being a disciple means at least two things: 1) A disciple’s life shows growth in fulfilling the Greatest Commandment (Matthew 22.37-39: Love God and love your neighbor); and 2) A disciple’s life shows growth in helping to fulfill with others the Great Commission (Matthew 28.19-20: Go and make disciples).  So, to put it more simply, a disciple is a follower of Jesus who loves God, loves his neighbor, and seeks to make disciples of others.

What does this look like?  Well, this is where a third theme emerged, which I have given a shorthand: Up, In, and Out.  This Up-In-and-Out language came to me from the mission statement at Transformation Church in Rock Hill, SC, which is pastored by Derwin Gray.  But here’s the point, a disciple has a strong relationship with God (Up), fosters authentic and fun community (In), and cares about living out the gospel in the world (Out).  My understanding of this concept grew thanks to the book by Hugh Halter called The Tangible Kingdom.  Hugh calls these three ways a disciple lives communion (Up), community (In), and mission (Out).

After taking in all of this on the first day of the conference, I was lying on the hotel-room bed staring at the darkened ceiling asking myself how I had missed all of this.  How could I have so contrived what it means to follow Jesus that I’ve missed the simplicity of growing in fulfillment of the Greatest Commandment and the Great Commission?  Up, In, and Out is so simple and so straightforward.  And yet for most of my life as a follower of Jesus I’ve focused almost solely on Up, some on In, and very little on Out.

As I stared at the ceiling I felt a growing sense of excitement that some of the things that I had been learning about could be implemented in my life and into the life of the community of which I am a part.  I started dreaming about ways to change some of what I do to become more missional.  I started thinking about how to tweak a few things in Crossroads so that we could better encourage one another to fulfill the Greatest Commandment and the Great Commission.  I started to get a vision for how things could be different.

Upon returning home I started sharing this vision with my wife, Alida.  She loved it!  Immediately she and I began discussing some new difficulties that might arise as a result of doing church differently.  We also started thinking about how our lives as a couple could change if we adopted a missional posture and began forming incarnational habits.  We both got really excited about this idea!  Alida is also part of the six-person leadership team of Crossroads and she thought that it would be wise and fair to share the vision with the rest of the team as well.  So, over the next few weeks I met with each of the other leaders in Crossroads to share with them what I had been learning.  To a person, everyone was excited!

Fast forward a bit and we come to last night.  Since we have a leadership meeting coming up on Monday night, I thought it would be good to remind our team of what we had chatted about.  So I sent them all an email that had a list of talking points for Monday.  The goal was for us to all be thinking about how focusing on discipleship from a missional/incarnational perspective might change how we do things in Crossroads.  With that meeting just a few days away now, my excitement is growing as I think about what dreaming together with our leadership team might look like!

What impact might this new wine have?  Only time will tell!

If you are interested in some helpful tools, I highly recommend the following two books, both by Hugh Halter and Matt Smay: The Tangible Kingdom: Creating Incarnational Community and AND: The Gathered and Scattered Church.