Thursday, February 19, 2009

Renewed Discipleship

It has been too long since I posted a real post so I thought I would end my day (that began at 4AM this morning) with some coffee, a little reading, and some overdue writing. (Please beware the no forethought is going into this writing, it is simply random musings for the sake of updating my reader).

My family has now been back in America for over 6 months and we have been moving ahead with our new church community in Orange County since September. I work at a local Starbucks because they offer great benefits for the family and because I think it is a great way to live out the ways of Jesus around people who may not normally encounter these ways. In addition to my 30 hours working for "the man", I am temporarily helping out a friend in his church a few times per month (he helps me by paying me a little, and I offer him teaching for their youth). On top of all of this, my wife and I are walking with a few dozen people in trying to create a new type of local church in Orange County that focuses on going and being Jesus to the world, instead of asking the "world" to come and see Jesus in our "Sacred" spaces.

Even with all of these jobs, I have never felt so relaxed and on track in ministry than I am now. There are many things I wish could be done but I know that this is the season God has us in and my job is to trust that He has things under control. Part of our new expression is to place the focus more on living journeying together throughout the week in ways that brings the light of Jesus to the world so the need for hours of programming is not needed. A good dinner party filled with good food and good wine and with some church friends and some non-church friends is the extent of our programming (other than weekly teaching).

In fact this year, my wife and I have realized how working in the "traditional" church has ironically kept us away from the very people we should be reaching. Now that our social lives are not overbooked with Bible Studies, small groups, women's & Men's ministry events, and children's activities, we actually have the time and energy to spend time with the families at our kids' school and our neighbors who we see almost everyday. As a Barista, I encourage and pray for dozens of people who are not Christians but who are willing to share their struggles with me as I make their drink each morning. We have been able to bring food to Non-Christian friends recovering from illnesses, pray with non-Christians struggling in their marriages, serve co-workers who openly reject the existence of God, share meals with people of other faiths who are open to our hospitality, and help not-yet-believing neighbors to see how God's story is intersecting in theirs.

I am finding that for me, "Making disciples of all nations" is now more than helping people follow Jesus after they take the first step of coming to church. For me it is what I should have been doing all along, and that is to be the hands and feet of Jesus to the world so that they can see their need for a relationship with the Risen Savior. (Isn't it the kindness of God that leads us to repentance anyway ? Romans 2:4) Then it is to help them make the ways of Jesus a reality in their own lives. Again, it is not that I ever worked in a church that is against real discipleship, it is just that we can get so caught up in programming discipleship that we never actually make it into a real life thing.

I am grateful for the people who have decided to join us in our new church with a renewed emphasis on outward living and true disciple making. We are a slowly growing, diverse, personal, and fun but serious group of people who are already making positive changes in our communities. We are already hearing the very beginning of some great stories about God's work in people's lives so I hope that in the weeks to come (If I am diligent in writing) I can relate some stories of these encounters.

As I said, this is an unplanned, random sampling of some thoughts. Thanks for checking in.

3 comments:

Perry Hamilton said...

Ryan,

I love the fact that you allow us, sporadically, as it is, to follow the path that Christ has laid out for you. Thanks for keeping us up to date.

Derek Hiebert said...

Ryan,

Great to hear what's going on. I resonate with everything you and your wife are experiencing--we, too, are right there with you. Thanks for being an encouragement to us.

(Maybe in a few years--after Jesus gets success and fame through our respective missions--we can co-write a book together about how churches were planted and funded from Starbucks) : )

Derek (from Parkland)

Kevin said...

That 4th paragraph made my heart sink. I really wish I made more of an effort to do the same...

very encouraging,

thanks!