Monday, January 11, 2010

My New Year's resolution - I will try harder at updating my blog more often. In fact, my goal is to update it monthly. That will probably mean more stuff about what's going on at Flushing United Methodist Church than my thoughts on particular subjects and issues.

I have a lot of respect for the bloggers that can write daily blogs that are well-thought out, interesting and make me think.

This month, my thing is untransformed Christians and missonal disciples.

First, untransformed Christians.

Last summer I preached a sermon series called, More Like Jesus. The idea was that people don't need Christians to be perfect, they just need us to be more like Jesus. The way we got at that was by looking at some of the criticisms for the church and Christians and Christianity by non-believers. (i.e. Christian are judgemental, ignorant, etc...)

As I have reflected more on those criticisms I have come to decide that the majority of the criticisms come from encounters with untransformed Christians.

Untransformed Christians are people who have either stopped growing in spiritual maturity, or never grew in spiritual maturity; or they are folks who have chosen not to allow a certain part of their lives to be transformed by the grace of God.

Please understand, I am not judging as to whether these folks have faith in Jesus Christ or have had a salvation/conversion/new birth experience. I am saying that there are folks who have a relationship at some level with Jesus Christ so that they call themselves Christian, and yet they have either not allowed God's grace and power to transform them or they have stopped allowing God's grace to transform them.

I know tat there are still bit of my life that I have have not completely surrendered to the Lordship of Christ. And, I know that there are times when I mess up - BIG time and small time. But, I hope that when I do mess up, I have the grace and courage not to try and excuse my mess up, but admit it, make amends and move on.

I am REALLY glad that mistakes don't have to be the final word and that God does not disown us when we mess up.

So, what do we do about untransformed Christians? Nothing. Let God deal with that. God is more than big enough. Rather, I want to make sure I am growing in my relationship with Jesus Christ and that I allow God to transform every aspect of my life so that I can be the man, husband, father, pastor, brother, etc...that God redeemed me to be.

Maybe, then, my life can be a better and more attractive testimony to God's love and power than the untransformed Christian.

Now, about missional disciples.

Personally, I think the church needs a new paradigm for Christ-followers.

In fact, I rarely us the word disciple much to describe followers of Jesus Christ.

"Disciple" carries too much negative (and sometimes ambiguous) baggage.

Many churches call the members of their congregation, "ministers." And, that is Biblically true. But, culturally the term "minister" has been gone through so many changes that it has lost teeth.

My main objection is that the term minister does not carry with it a sense of faith sharing or evangelism (talk about a scary word today). I strongly believe that ALL Christ-followers should share their faith verbally in some way. (yes, I wrote verbally! We at Flushing UMC do a great job sharing our collective faith through missions and ministry, but no so much at verbally. That, I am certain, is due more to my leadership than anything else. I intend to change that.)

So, I think we need to embrace a new paradigm for Christ-followers.

The one that makes the most sense to me is being a missionary or a missioner. To me a missionary is one who goes to another (different) culture to bring the message of hope in Jesus Christ and to incarnate or embody the love of God in Jesus Christ. A missioner is one who does the same thing only with people of the same or similar culture.

So a missioner not only does ministry, but also intentionally looks for ways to share the good news that God has given us in Jesus.

This month we at Flushing UMC are looking at the foundations for being missioners through a series of messages called, The Missionary God. You can check out our website for those sermons.

I like what Rob Bell says about being missionaries.

I'll share that next time.