Ministering to the Homeless

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“It’s complicated!”

This is often what we say when we are unable to give a clear response to a question, or when we are unsure how to navigate through a situation.

Consider the subject of homelessness. Broadly speaking, the homeless community is one of the most misunderstood and marginalized community groups in the States. And in the Dallas – Fort Worth area, it is difficult not to see or run into a member of the homeless community.

Brian Fikkert, a leading thinker on ministering to the homeless, once remarked: “There is a lot more going on than meets the eye, so the solutions need to move well beyond ladling soup, dispensing clothing, and handing out food stamps, as important as those activities can be. Indeed, the problem of poverty is so complex that it takes a miracle to eradicate it.”

How then do we as Christians engage and understand this overwhelming and often heartbreaking subject?

Here are three thoughts to help guide the conversation, all the while remembering that the homeless are neither projects or pariahs, but first and foremost, fellow image bearers of God.

First, take time to understand your context. 

Poverty is pervasive. But it does not manifest in the same way in every place. There are some common underlying forces at work, but there are nuances as well. This requires thoughtfulness and creativity in the ways we engage.

For example, in early 2017, Dallas Morning News reported, “More people [in the homeless community] are visibly living outside in encampments and tents throughout Dallas and surrounding cities. And the ongoing shortage of affordable housing units is making it more difficult to get people off the street, forcing people to remain homeless longer. The census shows that the average unsheltered person has been homeless for more than three years.”

Local news reports like this provide insights that can deepen our understanding of the issues at hand, and remind us it is not so simple a matter as handing out a few dollars here and there, but neither should those acts be easily dismissed.

Regarding local ministries to the homeless, one of the most active and gospel-centered ministries in the Dallas area is OurCalling. Theirs is a ministry that is the result of much trial and error, yet with a steadfast, multilayered approach to bring Christ-centered discipleship to those often neglected. This is simply one model of ministry to the homeless that can be a supporting resource for those navigating through this topic.

Take time to understand your context (investigate, read literature on the subject, ask questions of those already in this field of ministry) so that you might move towards the homeless community in your area with wisdom, humility, and compassion.

Second, pursue this ministry with others, not in isolation.

Most likely, you are not the only one in your church wrestling with how to engage this subject. And because this subject is so multifaceted, it will require numerous perspectives and skill sets that will extend beyond you. See this as an opportunity to bring together members of the body to serve a community often treated as modern-day lepers. And perhaps, to also consider joining other agencies or parachurch ministries already immersed in this work.

Finally, pray!

Pray for those in your area who are homeless. Pray that God would give you courage and clarity in terms of how you and your church might engage. Pray that you would be alert and sensitive to the promptings of the Holy Spirit in this matter.

Arloa Sutter, founder of Breakthrough Urban Ministries, which serves homeless adults and youth and their families in Chicago, offers this helpful reminder:

“Listening to God and being prompted by the Spirit needs to be the basis for our action. God works in us and then out through us. In practical terms, this means… contemplation of God and God’s word…spend time praying and listening for guidance before diving into action…respond with obedience to those nudges of the Spirit when God instructs us to act. [For] it is when we are moving in obedience that God can use us effectively to care for others.”

The hope, then, for the church and the homeless is that God is on the move. And He is in the business of bringing hope where there is despair, and life where there is death. There will be many different ways for you to come alongside the poor and homeless in your context. Some will be helpful; some will not. And that is ok.

Thanks be to God that He is unlimited in His creativity and ability to use imperfect and impatient people to display His justice, grace, and compassion.

2 book resources worth reading:
When Helping Hurts: How to Alleviate Poverty Without Hurting the Poor…and Yourself by Steve Corbett and Brian Fikkert
Generous Justice: How God’s Grace Makes Us Just by Timothy Keller

Lent & Lament

So, what does Lent have to do with lament?

Generally speaking, Lent is a time to reflect not only on Christ and the last days leading to his death and resurrection, but also a time to consider our need for the mercy and grace of God.

Lament, on the other hand, wrestles with the painful realities of this world, in and outside our lives.  These realities are constant.  Mass shootings, discrimination (often violence) against marginalized communities, suicides, human and sex trafficking, and drug overdose only capture a fraction of the pain that grips this world.

Lament and Lent, then, complement one another as they bring into sharp focus the reality of suffering.

Herein lies the rub.  Most of us would rather focus on happiness and success.  And if it was within our control, we would arrange our lives in such a way as to distance ourselves from suffering, especially suffering that others experience.  For example, one need only observe the extent to which the homeless community is often treated as a pariah.  Thus, in our efforts to script out pain, many are determined to pursue a life that is as convenient and pain-free as possible.  However, the cost of such a path is the loss of lament.

D.A. Carson offers this remark on biblical lament: “There is no attempt in Scripture to whitewash the anguish of God’s people when they undergo suffering.  They argue with God, they complain to God, they weep before God.  Theirs is not a faith that leads to dry-eyed stoicism, but to a faith so robust it wrestles with God.”[1]

 

Biblical lament invites us to wrestle with God.  To not turn from our pain or the pain others experience, but to bring it before God. 

 

 

This can include grieving, praying, crying, protesting, questioning, and even silence.

Indeed, we are invited to wrestle with God in numerous ways.  In the process, lament becomes an opportunity, alone as well as in community, to experience the power and hope of God and his gospel.

There are at least two ways we can lament, individually and together, as a witness to the gospel.

  • Lament creates space to listen to stories of struggle and suffering.  

    Soong Chan Rah comments: “Our historical reflection reveals an obsession with success and celebration while stories of survival and suffering are ignored.  History is often told by the victorious and therefore favors them.”[2]  Lament, then, helps us to not focus so much on success stories that we neglect stories of failure and cries for help.

  • Lament pursues the justice and righteousness of God in all areas of life.  

    Kathleen O’Connor remarks: “Laments create room within the individual and the community not only for grief and loss, but also for seeing and naming injustice.  Laments name the weeping and fracturing of relationships – personal, political, domestic, ecclesial, national, and global.  The point of lamenting is… to name injustice, hurt, and anger.”[3]  As a result, lament helps us to be attentive to injustices that are local and abroad, as well as engage these issues with wisdom and compassion.

In this season of lent, may we increasingly learn to lament in ways that are life-giving.  Lent reminds us that Christ set his gaze towards Jerusalem, knowing he would be crucified on the cross for our sin and suffering.  Yet, it also reminds us that despite the pervasive narrative in which death wins regardless of a pain-free life, Christ offers a radical alternative.  The wisdom and love of God is that our suffering and our stories are intimately wrapped up by faith in Christ’s suffering and his story.  And his gospel story is one in which sin, suffering, and death do not have the last word.

In Christ, life has the last word.

May this season of Lent, and the seasons to come, be a time in which you increasingly rest in Christ and lament with hope.

 

Footnotes:
[1] Bill Muehlenberg, “The Lament Psalms,” (CultureWatch, 2012).
[2] Soong Chan Rah, Prophetic Lament: A Call for Justice in Troubled Times (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 2015).
[3] Kathleen M. O’Connor, Lamentations and the Tears of the World (Maryknoll, NY: Orbis Books, 2002), 128.

Our Vision: Living Our Faith Together (Part 4)

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vision of loft city church

This is the final part of our four part series on our vision as a church.  What is God calling our church to be? What is God calling those of you who call LOFT City your home church to be?  We believe that God is calling us to be a community that is “Living Our Faith Together.”  At first glance that seems quite simple, but as we been unpacking each of these words, it’s actually  a God-sized vision and we will need the help of God’s Spirit to accomplish.

As we been fleshing out this vision, I pray you been seeing that we aren’t simply interested in having people simply fill our pews, but we are calling for a radical transformation as disciples of Jesus.  If you haven’t read the previous posts, you can check them out here:  Part 1 (Living), Part 2 (Our)Part 3 (Faith).  In this final post, we look at that final word, “Together.”

TOGETHER:
The dictionary defines “together” as “In harmony and accord. In contact with one another.”

At LOFT City, it is our firm belief that you are called to live in a sense of community. The early church did everything together. The church is more than just people that worship God together, but because of the finished work of Christ, we have been adopted as sons and daughters of God, Christ has become our elder brother, and we are surrounded by family members. It is God’s desire that as a family, we would be willing to give of our lives for each other.

It means relationships. We get this from God. When He created humanity, he designed us for relationship – with Him and one another. It is in the fabric of our being. That is why God calls us to essentially love Him and people. Our challenge is to love like God loved us. The church was never meant to be a bunch of people who sit in chairs, put on masks, and go through the motions. Instead, we are called to be a family where no one stands alone. Because relationships are so important, we seek less “churchy” activities and more friendships with people despite where they are on their spiritual journey.

It means we share. We will seek to share our time, talent, and treasure with others. Generosity will flow out of the grace God gave us. We are to be rich in good works, to be generous and ready to share. We will be an authentic community who takes on one another’s burdens with a battle cry that “no one stands alone.” This is pleasing to God and a fingerprint of a true disciple.

It means we are transparent. A community that holds each other accountable, encourages each other, and forgives one another. A community that is not isolated and grows stronger when they see authenticity and transparency. A place where we can be honest, without fear of rejection.

It means accountability. We will hold each other accountable in living lives for God’s glory. We will not be satisfied with mediocre faith, but will encourage each other to pursue God in complete surrender.

Together is a hard word.  It means being in situations that might sometimes be uncomfortable.  It means giving of your time, energy and finances because of your love for the church family.    It means that we serve together and share the burden together because that is what families do.  You find places in and outside of the church where you can serve.

I truly believe that as we continue to strive to be a community and individuals that are living our faith together many things will happen.  God will be glorified, we will be united and maturing, and our city will notice.

Living Our Faith Together.  I’m grateful that I get to live out this vision with each of you week in and week out.

Our Vision: Living Our Faith Together (Part 3)

loft vision

vision of loft city church

We been examining why we exist as a church and what God has called us to be.  This blog series has been about examining our vision statement – Living Our Faith Together.

We have been unpacking each of these words and why each word in our vision matters.  If you haven’t read the previous posts in this series, you can check them out here: Part 1 (Living) and Part 2 (Our).  In this post, we are going to look at the third word, “faith.”

FAITH:  One dictionary defines faith as loyalty and allegiance to a person or thing. At LOFT, we are all about Jesus. In him, God became a man, entered our messed-up stories, and completely altered them. He died for us, so that we might live for Him.

As a result of what Jesus did (and is doing), our hope is to be the church that Jesus had in mind. Not some religious institution of self-righteous, judgmental hypocrites, but a movement of love, of messed up, yet growing people who are exploring and following Jesus.

Who are taking our first steps and next steps in living the lives we are meant to live. Who are an authentic community of grace, truth, mission, and meaning. Our style and methods may not be typical, but LOFT is all about, all for, and all because of Jesus. To him, we give our full loyalty and allegiance. Because of that, we strive to be a church that embraces a biblical worldview wherever God places us in life.

We believe in the timeless truths of the ancient Scriptures. We aren’t looking for new teachings or doctrines or a new religion. We aren’t looking to simply memorize and get puffed up in Scripture. We absolutely believe that the Bible is relevant to our lives. And since Jesus said that it was all about him, we recalibrate our lives according to the Scriptures. It is our supreme court and ultimate authority, and no person, teaching, or philosophy is above it.

We figure that if God says that this is His very words to us, it should be a big deal to us. It is in the Bible we discover the truth of the Gospel. It is there that we discover that in Christ, we get what we don’t deserve – we get Jesus and his ever-flowing and overflowing love and forgiveness. And because we get what we don’t deserve, we are free to give that grace to others.

Faith means we follow. Above all, we seek to know, love and follow Jesus in our thoughts, words and actions and every moment we look to Jesus as our Great King and example. Following Jesus is a series of next steps, each resulting in us becoming more like Him.

Faith means we explore. To love God with all our minds means we are to be curious and filled with wonder at what God has revealed, especially in scripture. By regularly reading the Bible, we learn what it means to live the lives we’re meant to live and we are shaped by the very words of God. We also discover more about our Creator and his creation in all realms of learning through story, wisdom, song, nature, imagination, and more. However, our highest authority is our divine conversation with Jesus through the reading of scripture.

Faith means we grow. Growth is a natural by-product of every healthy living thing. This includes people. Since growth comes from God, we will continually fix our eyes on Christ, search our hearts for any cheap substitutes to him, and repent of our sin and place them at the feet of our King. We will seek to live lives of health and wholeness remembering there’s one throne and one source of genuine growth.

Faith means we pray. We will be a people of constant conversation and communion with God. As we live our lives, we will pray without ceasing according to God’s will. We will thank God, worship God, be honest to God, confess our sins to God, listen to God, and always seek opportunities to pray for others. Our hope is to be the go-to people for prayer in our relational networks without making a big show of it.

Faith means we will fight. We will stand up for those who can’t stand up for themselves and offer hope to the hopeless. We will fight against injustice and stand with those who are being oppressed. It means that we will fight guilt-based religion by our actions and the Gospel. We agree with scripture and believe for justice to roll down like waters, and righteousness like an ever-flowing stream. In serving others, we serve Christ. We will never forget that our ultimate mission is to bring good news and be good news to those around us.

Faith.  It is way more than something we do or something we believe.  It’s who we are.

Our Vision: Living Our Faith Together (Part 2)

loft vision

vision of loft city church

We’re continuing to look at the vision of LOFT City Church.  Our vision is pretty simple and consists of only four words:  Living Our Faith Together.  But when we unpack these four words we discover that in order to fulfill this vision, we need Jesus.  This is not something that is easily done by mere human will-power or motivation. It’s a God-sized vision that only can be accomplished by the power of His Spirit.

In our last post, we looked at the word “Living” and discovered that to live this out, we have to be a community of faith that is sent into our world, eats with intentionality, becomes a presence in our society, listens to those around us, parties well, and blesses others.

The second word in our vision is the word, Our.

That word OUR is very simple, yet complex. It would be very easy for us to define “our” as people that look like us, behave like us, and belong in the same socio-economic class as us. Yet God defines “our” as the entire world. The Gospel is not exclusive to one person or group. As a local church, we can be specific about what “our” looks like to us.

It is our firm belief that God has placed LOFT in Richardson for a bigger purpose than to simply be a church that meets in Richardson. There is a reason why God has placed us in this city, in this season.

When we say “our” – this means that we see all people as created in the image of God and long to see them worship God in spirit and in truth.

This means we have compassion. Matthew 9 states that when Jesus saw the crowd, he had compassion on them. Jesus saw the crowd, stepped into their story and spoke directly to them. He didn’t simply speak at them.

Who are these faces that we are called to see? Some are faces that we already know their stories. Some are faces that we care about. Some are exploring Jesus for the first time and looking for answers. Some are prodigals. Some have suffered great heartache and pain due to broken relationships. Some are giving love one last shot. Some have no clue how they are going to pay their bills this week. Some will blow their excess on a shopping spree on things they don’t need. Some are drowning in confusion about their future. Some know full well what they are supposed to do, but do not have the courage to do it. Some have been neglected by those they love. Some are neglecting the ones they love. Some are oblivious to their own self-righteousness. Some can only see their own depravity. Some are theological snobs who think they know it all. Some have never studied Scripture at all. Some are recovering from their addictions. Some are denying that they have an addiction. Some feel overwhelmed by life. Some feel that their life is empty. Some desperately need the Gospel. Some desperately need to be reminded of the Gospel. To these we are called to be compassionate.

That means we include. The arm of God is big enough to wrap around the whole world. The least we can do is wrap our arms around our neighbor; the people we come in contact with every day. We will not play favorites based on social status but view all people as equally valuable under an Almighty God. Our community is one where people can belong before they believe and find grace overflowing. All are welcome to the table. This includes the college student community at UTD and Richland College. This includes the local apartment communities. This includes the young college graduate seeking the pursuit of happiness. This includes families – where both parents are there and where a single parent is working multiple jobs to provide for his/her children. It includes the elderly that are living in retirement centers, feeling lonely and hopeless.

It includes Richardson. A city that will have a population of over 110,000 people by 2020. A city where almost 20% of its population are foreign-born. A city where almost 30% of the population do not speak English in their homes. A city where 18% of the population is with the age bracket of 18-34 years old. A city that is considered the second best place to raise kids in Texas by Business Week, yet about 10% of the population live in poverty. A city that has a college campus of over 15,500 students, of which 15% are international students, living far away from home. A city where there is only one church for every 1200 people. This is where we are called to.

It includes having a global vision and sending people to serve Jesus on the mission field. This means we are engaging in hard places of the world like the Red Light District of Mumbai, India because we believe if Jesus was walking the earth today, that is probably where you will find him.

This is what OUR consists of. It is not segregated by race, gender, or social economics. It something that needs to happen from top-down, including leadership. Those of you who are married, it includes investing in the college students of our community. To those of you who are in college, this means that you reach out to those are who working and building relationships with them. We need to be intentional about getting out of our comfort zones and truly live OUR faith together by being a community that is compassionate and welcoming.

Our Vision: Living Our Faith Together (Part 1)

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vision of loft city churchOver the course of the next several blog posts, we will be revisiting what our vision is at LOFT City Church. At LOFT City Church, our vision is simply, “Living Our Faith Together.” Four simple words but as we unpack each of these words, you will that our vision is a God-sized dream of what we desire to see happen in our church and community through the faithful ministry of the church. This is our hope and dream of the kind of church we want to be. Four words – let’s unpack them.

LIVING: Defined as something that has life, active or thriving, growing, strong, flowing freely. A particular manner, state or status of life.

We believe that being a follower of Jesus or a Christian is much more than a mere label of identification. It is a way of life. A pattern that is integrated into everyday life, not because we have to, but because we get to. It’s also not so much out of religious compulsion, but compelled by a love for God and people. Our lives are lived in such a way that brings glory to God and draws people to God. It’s a life that grasps that we are part of God’s bigger story in redemptive history  and are willing to give oneself to be the best that we can be in that story. We are called to live on mission.

What does this mean for us?

It means that we are sent. Jesus sends us out on mission and into culture to be salt and light everywhere we go. In this sense, we are all missionaries wherever we are.

It means we eat. We choose not to hate our meals. We seek to commune with others when possible and view each meal as a blessing from God. We realize some sacred moments happen over the sharing of a meal together. As lives are shared, ministry happens.

It means we are a presence in society. We do not believe that we are to create a subculture. Instead, we are called to dwell within culture in order to influence, shape, and redeem it for God. We believe that this whole world and everything and everyone in it belongs to God. Like Jesus, we choose to enter the story in order to change the story.

It means we listen. We are charged to love God and our neighbors as ourselves. One tangible expression of love is listening. We will take opportunities to hear the stories of others. To rejoice with those who rejoice. Weep with those who weep. Not only do we listen to each other, but we will listen for God and create deliberate moments of silence and quiet our hearts before our Creator.

That means we party. Barbecues, inviting friends to our home for meals, being involved in sports and activities that are fun and “non-religious.” These are just a few explain of what it means to party. We choose to celebrate and enjoy life with people inside and outside of our community.

Finally, it means we bless. We are blessed by God to be a blessing to others: an encouraging email, a note of appreciation, a kind word, an unselfish act, a helping hand. Wherever your imagination takes you, being a blessing means making deposits into the lives of people. Showing grace is to do so whether someone deserves it or not. We will look to tangibly bless others.

When we are truly living out our vision, we will be a community of faith that is sent into our world, eating with intentionality, being a presence in our society, listening to those around us, partying well and blessing others. That’s just the beginning of what it means to be living our faith together.

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Prayer walking and why we want you to join us?

One of the ways that we can intentionally pray for the city that God placed us in is by doing prayer walks.  Last month, we walked through the neighborhoods around LOFT City and prayed that God would bless our city.  We walked by a couple schools and prayed that God would bless and protect the teachers and the students that assemble there during the week.  As we passed by city hall, we prayed that God would give our city leaders the wisdom to lead the city.  As we walked through the neighborhoods and the apartment communities, our prayer was that God would restore, protect and provide for the families/individuals that lived there.  We believe that prayer is so important to reaching the city that we want to continue doing prayer walks on a monthly basis.

We spent most of this past year studying the book of Hebrews.  One of the things that the writer emphasized is that because of Jesus we can approach the throne of grace anytime and from anywhere.

So what is so great about prayer walks and why do we want you to join us?

– It’s actually good for your body.  It’s good to get out and walk, even if it is a little chilly.

– It gives you a new viewpoint.  It’s very easy to drive straight from home to church and then go back home.  However, walking the streets of Richardson opens your eyes to so much more that is happening in the city.

– It gives you a desire to see God change the city.  When you see the people in the city, and you walk by where the leaders make decisions that affect the future of the city, and you are in front of the school that educates the future generation of the city, your prayer becomes that God becomes actively involved in the community.

– You are engaged in spiritual warfare.  You see the good and the bad of the city.  You see some of the devastation that sin has caused – broken homes, poverty, drugs, etc.

– It builds unity in the church as we join hearts and words in praying for God to use LOFT City to make a difference in our city.

– It teaches us to pray for things that only God can change.  We realize that unless God works, no event or activity that our church does will make a difference in this community.

– It helps us confess of our fears and lack of love for the city and people that are different from us.  It’s easy to talk about how much we love the city within the confines of the four walls of the church.  It’s easy to say that we are a church that welcomes all people to worship with us.  However, when we are walking through the city, we realize that we really don’t love the city and the people (and their baggage) that live in the city.  This helps us to go to God to repent and confess of our lack of love.

– It stirs your heart for compassion and justice in the neighborhood.

– It allows us to meet our neighbors and possibly build relationships with them and hear how we can be praying for them.

– We follow the example of Jesus.  “And when He (Jesus) drew near and saw the city, he wept over it (Luke 19:41).

Photo courtesy of ©lindejesus under the Creative Commons License 3.0

A Messed-Up Focus

One of the pitfalls that I keep finding myself in is the focus I give on the church as a meeting place, building, service while forgetting that the church is more about going and living than it is about a building. When I look at the early church, we do see them gather and fellowship, break bread and pray. However, when you read Acts, there is more emphasis on going and living among the people than there is on getting together.

Somehow we have shifted the attention to our gathering. We do everything possible to make sure people have a great time on Sunday morning. We demand perfection from our worship team, childcare for our kids, entertainment from our pastor and the ability to leave and go back to our private lives as soon as service is over. I’m not saying that any of this is bad. We want great worship, relevant teaching and our kids to be taken care of. However, this mindset has created a generation of me-centered people that are only interested in the church to make them feel good or entertained. It is not producing disciples that are going and living. Unfortunately, because we went into a building and sang some songs and heard a message, we think we just “had church.”

[pl_blockquote]Now many signs and wonders were regularly done among the people by the hands of the apostles. (Acts 5:12)[/pl_blockquote]

The church is not just a group of people that come together every Sunday morning and sing songs and listen to a pastor and then go and live our individual lives. The church is so much more than that. We are a group of people, filled with the Holy Spirit, who have been given the power to take the message of God’s transforming power and love everywhere we go because Jesus is with us and in us. The church is disciples of Jesus, empowered by the Holy Spirit, sons and daughters of our Heavenly Father who both corporately and individually take the presence of Jesus to the places where God calls us. We recognize that it is “Christ in us, the hope of glory.”

[pl_blockquote]And Stephen, full of grace and power, was doing great wonders and signs among the people. (Acts 6:8)[/pl_blockquote]

As a pastor that has dreams of being “successful”, I need to constantly remind myself that the church is not about how big the building is, how many people attend the service, how great the sermon is, how amazing the kids ministry is.” The church is a movement of people, in love with Jesus who are going and being sent out, knowing that the Holy Spirit is with them, into a world that needs hope.

[pl_blockquote]Now those who were scattered went about preaching the word. Philip went down to the city of Samaria and proclaimed to them the Christ. (Acts 8:4-5)[/pl_blockquote]

This means that there is a shift from trying to engage people in all the activities that the church is doing to encouraging people to live out their faith in the places where God has already placed them. It means that while the service and the building is important, the equipping and empowering and sending of the people into the world takes precedence. It means that instead of “going to church”, we become more interested in “taking the church” to our world.

How does this play out for a disciple of Jesus?

[pl_blockquote]Now an angel of the Lord said to Philip, “Rise and go toward the south to the road that goes down from Jerusalem to Gaza.” This is a desert place. And he rose and went. (Acts 8:26-27)[/pl_blockquote]

Stop focusing on the meeting

It’s very easy to come to a church service and find everything good/bad about the service. Don’t be self-centered. It’s sad when people complain that they are not getting anything out of the church, but in reality they never put anything in to building relationships and living their faith together with other people.

Over the last several years at LOFT City, I’ve been watching God take some people out and bring new people into the church. The majority of the people that He has weaned out are people that were more interested in what the church was doing for them. They could very easily find faults in so many different aspects of the church. Sadly, because they were self-centered, they missed the individuals God was bringing and how they could have impacted their lives. Over the last several months, God has been bringing people from various ethnic and faith backgrounds with incredible stories and because we tend to be me-centered we miss out on what God is doing.

Focus on people

Our church building will not be in heaven, but the people we building relationships with and invest in have eternal significance. Invest into people. Figure out who God is bringing into your life and invest in them, invite them into your lives/homes. Go celebrate and weep with them. Be interested in their lives. Don’t make them a project, but genuinely care about them.

Pray for the people that God brings into your life.

Live God-centered lives everywhere you go.

Build relationships, love people, pray for God-appointments, live among the people

Use the gifts that God has blessed you with and use them outside of church.

You aren’t gifted so that you can bless the local church. You have been gifted by God so that you can point people to Jesus.

[pl_blockquote]Now those who were scattered because of the persecution that arose over Stephen traveled as far as Phoenicia and Cyprus and Antioch, speaking the word to no one except Jews. But there were some of them, men of Cyprus and Cyrene, who on coming to Antioch spoke to the Hellenists also, preaching the Lord Jesus. And the hand of the Lord was with them, and a great number who believed turned to the Lord. (Acts 11:19-21)[/pl_blockquote]

[pl_blockquote]While they were worshiping the Lord and fasting, the Holy Spirit said, “Set apart for me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them.” Then after fasting and praying they laid their hands on them and sent them off. (Acts 13:2-3)[/pl_blockquote]

Photo courtesy of ©Greg Hirson under the Creative Commons License 3.0

How Do I Live Missionaly?

The question that is often asked is how do we practically live our life on mission? How do we live on mission in our schools, jobs & with family members? That’s the hard part, isn’t it? We all know we are supposed to do this, but how do we take the theoretical & make it practical?

We talk a lot about living our lives on mission for Jesus at LOFT. We connect our time in communion directly to our call to live our life on mission. Brice reminded in his sermon that being missional means joining the mission of God as His image bearers.

Here are some very practical points to help us begin living on mission.

Be Available

If we want to live missionaly, we have to be available. This means we have to get to know the people around us. If we don’t know someone that doesn’t know Jesus, we need to repent & find ways to meet people.

How do we do that? Meet neighbors. Take a walk in the neighborhood. Go to the same store & meet the people at the register. Visit the same Starbucks & talk to people. Invite people over for dinner. Play sports at the park. Get kids involved in sports. Join the PTA or the local gym. Be available.

[pl_blockquote]We are busy doing church programs. We attend five services a week, at three different churches. We aren’t obeying Jesus if all we do is go to church & never share the Gospel. We aren’t going to get a bigger crown because we went to church so much. Do less church stuff & more “worldly stuff”.[/pl_blockquote]

Be Talkative

We can be available, but if we never initiate conversations with people it will not make any difference. Ask people questions about their lives & find out what is going on with them. Hear their struggles, their pains, their joys & their accomplishments. Listen.

Be Bold

If we are followers of Jesus, God is living inside of us. We can go to any person with the Gospel because we know that God will speak despite of us & minister. We don’t have to be afraid at all. God is with us.

Be Compassionate

When we hear a need or concern, offer to pray & pray with them right away. If we can help them, offer a helping hand. Care about the whole person – physically, emotionally & spiritually. All of that matters to God.

Be Prayerful

Don’t just become friends with people, but actually begin to pray for them by name. Pray that God will soften their hearts. Pray that God will create opportunities for Gospel conversations to happen. Pray that the Gospel will transform them. Pray for God to bring people into our lives that don’t know Jesus.

Be Transparent

Be real about ourselves. People don’t need to see that we have our act together, but they want to see if we are genuine or not. Don’t be a fake. Don’t be the “holier-than thou, bless God” people who think that they are better than everyone else. It’s ok to say that we are a screw up, because it’s reality & they know it & we know it. Be genuine.

Be Patient

It is not our job to change people’s lives. In fact, we can’t change anyone. God has to do it. This means that we never give up on a person. We keep loving them & loving them because we will never know when God will transform them. People aren’t projects, they are people. They will know when we treat them like a project. Love them till death. Maybe there are some people in our lives today that might come to Jesus at our funeral. Don’t quit.

Be Trusting

It is only God’s grace that is going to transform people. No eloquent words, no formula, no right tract is going to do it. Ultimately, it is in God’s hands. We can be faithful, trust God & rest knowing that God is at work.