My mind and heart are on fire, stirring with ideas and potential for seeing God’s coming Kingdom here. I feel we are on the brink of something in the church in Atlantic Canada – it could be good or it could be bad. I feel we are on the brink of either deciding to give it our all and see church done differently, see the church become missionaries in their neighbourhoods again OR we’ll just keep doing what we have been doing and slowly continue to shrink and die. Yes, I think it is this blunt.
I’m coming off of three days of being steeped in the exceptional teaching and clear practice of Hugh Halter (author of “Flesh”, “Intangible Kingdom”, “And”, “Happy Hour” etc.) to actually live out the incarnation of Jesus, to actually re-enter the lives of the people around us.
I’m just going to grab two things Hugh shared that are messing with me – one that’s messing with me more as an individual and one that is messing with me more for the church. Obviously, Hugh deserves full credit for what I’m sharing here – all his ideas.
First, just quickly, “What does it mean to be incarnational?” Jesus dropped into our world and entered our lives, becoming deeply involved in the lives of people, even weird people. How would Jesus do you? As a follower, Christ lives in you - so how would Jesus do you at the coffee shop you go to, the places you hang out, in your neighbourhood, with your family, with your friends and acquaintances…
Here are the two big things Hugh shared that are messing with me and will change how I’m doing things.
1. Hugh shared “We were never meant to be incarnational by our self.” Do not just do this individually, there is power in them/we/us. There is power and encouragement in the communal for you. And there it is power and encouragement in it for the friends we are making, who are exploring the ways of Jesus. This one is really convicting me, because as I’ve been trying to join God in my neighbourhoods I recognize I’ve really been trying to do it alone – trying to live this life of Jesus in my neighbourhood, my gym, my coffee shop, with my running buddies – all on my own. It is not working so well, nor really going anywhere. I am not meant, we are not meant, to do this alone. People see the fullness of Christ when we are gathered with a few others, and they can see Jesus with skin on in more than one person.
2. The role of the Pastor/Leader is not what we have made it to be - We’ve gotten to the place where the Pastor spends the majority of their time using shepherding and teaching gifts and pouring the majority of their time into the weekend service(s). With this emphasis, we’ve lost the role of the apostolic, prophetic and evangelist in our body of believers. We need to find them and reclaim church as a movement in the world, relating to lost people and making the Gospel tangible. Yes, we need shepherds and teachers, but we’ve disproportionality given our times to these functions and forgotten the other responsibility of caring for the sheep we do not know yet, of coaching people to care for the lost sheep. Find the people that really love the city and are great at creating safe, warm spaces for people in their presence and coach them to live incarnationally in their neighbourhoods. Our job is not to be truth in the world, our job is to be a friend of sinners, to learn how to take on the flesh of Jesus in our neighbourhoods. Our job as pastors is to develop missionaries. Pastoring is leading God’s people into mission, to live as missionaries in culture. Pastoring is not performing functions, it is teaching people to be friends of sinners. As Hugh says, “The church doesn’t need more gimmicks or more of the same it needs more missionaries in our culture.” This is where I want to see our Pastor/leaders and churches moving – equipping and coaching people to be missionaries. This will mess with me for a long time, as we work on how to help our Pastors, leaders, and churches apprentice missionaries for today’s culture.
If you heard Hugh – what is messing with you?
If you didn’t hear Hugh – how are you reacting to even these two things I have shared?
With my whole being, willing to sacrifice everything for it, I believe God will change Atlantic Canada IF we join God in our neighbourhoods and train the people in our churches to join God in their neighbourhoods.
I’ll give everything to see that happen.
You can find out more about Hugh Halter HERE