Original post at http://jameyprickett.com/2014/10/12/i-love-our-mission/
Male birds develop sophisticated ways to attract mates. They build up more and more “attractors.” These attractors mean more weight, more elaborate color, more refinements to the feathers, until they can no longer fly or become easy prey for predators. The elaborate dance, bright colors, and beautiful feathers are impressive in attracting a mate but they also can become the male bird’s death. They can limit the bird from doing what it was intended to do – fly!
The modern Church has built its whole way of being Church around the attractional model. It has created “attractors” – large buildings, complex productions, and elaborate programs; all with the hopes that they can be the Church with the loudest “Come and see” appeal. The problem with the “come and see” model is that it puts the Church in competition with Disney, Hollywood, and Madison Avenue. The “come and see” Church will always be forced to focus more energy on putting on the latest production or creating the edgiest marketing instead of discipling the people to become more like Christ. “Come and see,” “come and be a part,” “come and follow,” is a part of the Christian way but only after the church “goes and tells,” “goes and lives,” goes and invites” to come and follow.
At Liberty Hill Church we want people to “come and experience” but we want it to be as an invitation from us who have “gone and told.” The Church should always be growing, always changing, always maturing but not because it has the best marketing in town or the coolest space available but because its people believe the words of Jesus when he said, “Go make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything that I have commanded you. And remember I am with you always, to the end of the age” (Matt. 28: 19-20). The Church grows because people believe that Jesus is with them as they go forth telling the Good News of God’s amazing grace. People should be flooding into the place of worship because the people who worship in that place have gone into the entire world and proclaimed the “good news to the whole creation” (Mark 16:15).
God is a God who sends. God sent Moses to rescue his people out of slavery. God sent his people, the people of Israel, to be a “light to the nations.” God sent prophets to remind Israel of their mission. God, the Father, sent Jesus to be reconciler and freedom announcer to all people. Jesus sends us. He says, “As the Father has sent me, so I send you” (John 20:21). If we stop sending, we stop being the church.
Martin E. Niemoller was born on January 14, 1892 in Lippstadt, Westphalia. During World War I, he served as a German submarine commander, but when the war was over, he went to seminary and became a Lutheran minister. Niemoller spoke out against National Socialism. He organized the Confession Church, a group of German Protestant Christians that opposed Hitler. Niemoller was imprisoned in concentration camps from 1937 to 1945, after which he helped to rebuild the German Protestant church.
Not long before he died on March 6, 1984, Niemoller lectured at Drew University in New Jersey. In his speech he told of a recurrent dream that involved the voice of Hitler, a voice he had heard numerous times. Niemoller said in his dream he heard a voice speak from the clouds: “Before I pass final judgment, do you have anything to say in your defense?” And from behind him he heard an answer. He tried to turn his head to see the voice that was at the docket, but he couldn’t get it back far enough. However, he recognized the voice. “I never once heard the true gospel message,” Hitler said.
Niemoller’s point was that even the most evil needs to hear the gospel. And it is our mission to get it there, to take up our commission, to agree that we have been sent. If we are not going to our neighbors, to our friends, to our co-workers with the Good News of Jesus Christ, then we have no right to call ourselves Christian.
Let me be clear, being sent does not always mean packing a suitcase and boarding a plane to the remotest part of the world. It could mean that you do that but it means as much about walking across the street or down the hall. When Jesus gave the Great Commission he said, “go” which the best translations read “as you are going.” It is not so much a change of territory as it is a change of mindset. The focus of going is “making disciples” which means as you are living out your life, going from here to there, “make disciples.” As I listen to the conversations that some have around missions I am afraid that missions have become idolatry. When missions is reduced to an agenda – feed the poor, build churches, take care of orphans – rather than living as a response to what God is doing in the world then it is salvation by works. If your need is to accomplish a predetermined task for God then it can no longer be called missional or Christian vocation. At that point you must call it what it is, good humanitarian work.
I love the mission of Liberty Hill Church. We exist to engage people in the life and mission of Jesus. We make no excuses about it. We exist to engage. We know that if we are going to continue to be a viable witness to the work of Christ in this area that we must engage. We will not hide behind walls. We will extend invitations. We will invite our neighbors. We will tell the Good News. We will take seriously the call to follow Jesus into the world.
As we said last week, we believe Jesus is the way, the truth, and the life. He has come not to just give us life but to give us abundant life. He extends an invitation for life filled with passion, a life of purpose and meaning, and life of joy. Anything less than these things is not the Jesus way.
If Jesus is the way to abundant life then we know that we must tell others. First, people must make Jesus the leader of their lives. He must be their lord and savior. When we say, “We are Christian,” we declare that, “Jesus directs my decision-making, my parenting, my marriage, my finances, and my relationships.” Jesus is my life.
Secondly, we believe everyone has a vocation. Everyone has a call, a purpose, and a mission. We exist for more than filling up space. Our life has meaning. We believe every person matters. We exist to engage people in the life and mission of Jesus. This is why we are here. This is what keeps us forward-looking. This is the reason we want the world to know that God planted Liberty Hill Church.
The revolution started with twelve men, twelve ordinary, common men in first century Palestine. Eleven saw it through to completion. It wasn’t easy. They were human. They had feelings. They had their own desires, wants, and dreams. Their emotions got the best of them at times. Their hunger for power limited their view of what Jesus was trying to accomplish in and through them.
In the first chapter of Acts, we find them staring up into the heavens watching as Jesus ascends out of sight. Jesus who was their closest companion was now removed from them. Jesus who went about doing good, proclaiming the kingdom of God, healing the sick and giving himself in love is now no more. The one who they witnessed as his life was poured out in love and whose love bled down a wooden cross was rising into the clouds. Their moment of awe is quickly interrupted by two angels who ask, “Men of Galilee, why do you stand looking up toward heaven? This Jesus, who has been taken up from you into heaven, will come in the same way as you saw him go into heaven” (Acts 1:11). Other words, “Quit standing around. Go and live your lives as redeemed men of God.”
They started a revolution that would “turn the world upside down” (Acts 17:6). The movement became unrestrained and unstoppable. It brought down empires, toppled power structures, and proclaimed a message of freedom to the enslaved. Caught by the vision of God’s reign and empowered by the Holy Spirit they set out to be witnesses of the Good News “in Jerusalem, in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth” (Acts 1: 8).
Two thousand years ago, it started with twelve being called. Eleven saw it through. Let’s refuse to be the ones who betrayed. Let us renew our mission to engage people in the life and mission of Jesus. Let’s come out of our religious ghettos and proclaim the Good News of Jesus. Jesus promised the kingdom and God sent the church. The best we can be is a sign of God’s reign on earth. We live out the hope of God’s presence among us. We are the life of the kingdom. We are the people of the vision. The vision that Jesus proclaimed when he said, “I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly” (John 10:10). Let’s quit standing around looking up into the heavens and wondering when Christ will return. Instead, let’s go out into the streets, byways, and highways proclaiming the Good News. Let’s mend up the brokenhearted. Let’s feed the hungry. Let’s clothe the naked. Let’s give shelter to the poor. Not because it is to be our agenda but instead because it is where we will find God among us.
We are witnesses of amazing grace. We are witnesses of unconditional love. We have our own story to tell, how we were once blind but now can see, once lost but now found. We are like the eleven with our mixes emotions, fear, and doubts. Like them, we have nothing to boast of except the love of God who saved a wretch like me. Jesus has come to us, he has come to Liberty Hill Church, with a love without limit, and invites us to tell the story of love over and over and over again until all the world hears. Imagine what “Good News” turned loose on the world today would look like? Imagine it. Now go and live it. “You will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, in all Judea, and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth” (Acts 1:8). Can I get a witness?
 Sweet, Leonard. So Beautiful. Pg. 65.