• Our hope-filled future is bound up in sharing the story of Jesus, in discipling others, in bringing those disciples together into communities of believers, and in developing and releasing those believers to create other communities... till Jesus the King comes again!

Thoughts Along The Journey

David & Becky Riddell“Which comes first?  BEing or DOing?”

Our need for community is one of the essential elements we share on our journey together.  Biblical community, by its very nature, gives rise to witness.  The fruit of such witness is the establishment of visible, local communities of believers (“churches”). It is fascinating to watch how Luke describes this process in the book of Acts:

  • And the word of God continued to increase, and the number of the disciples multiplied greatly in Jerusalem, and a great many of the priests became obedient to the faith.” (6:7)
  • But the word of God increased and multiplied.” (12:24)
  • So the word of the Lord continued to increase and prevail mightily.” (19.20)

Pause for a minute and reflect on how these narratives impact our journey together.  First, we must constantly remind ourselves that the growth and multiplication of the church is primarily a work of God through His Word.  Our efforts to creatively strategize are certainly important, but calling upon God and sharing about His work in our lives with others become the priority.1 Second, we must ‘speak the Word.’  Time and again, it is the “word of God” that increases.  In other words, when the word of God is boldly spoken, heard and lived out, the result is multiplication.  Third, the “mission” of God goes way beyond our own individual agendas.  It is a “corporate” or community affair.  We cannot hope to fully participate in what God is doing in the world unless we join with other believers.  Finally, God’s desire is not just to save lost people, but to create a people for Himself: to establish the Church. Our work is fulfilled and accomplished when churches, visible and local communities of believers are birthed and established.2

If we think about it, there is a natural link between each one of these elements: community, witness, the Church.  In the past, we have sometimes argued as to the priority of one element over another.  Is it “BEing” before “DOing”?  Or is “doing” more important than issues of the heart?  Are we an organization that puts too much emphasis on “doing”, overly concerned with numbers rather than people’s hearts?   Or are we an organization that spends so much time and energy in “being” that the work is not accomplished?   The dichotomy is one that we unfortunately have created ourselves.  Perhaps we maintain this dichotomy so that we can keep away from that which feels uncomfortable to us – whether it is doing or being.

community-witness-churchReal transformation, however, occurs when all three elements are “moving” in our lives.  What if we looked at these elements as a set of interlocking gears?  As one gear “turns”, it inevitably affects and moves the others.  So no matter where we begin (“being” or “doing”), the impact will be felt in the other areas.

As we reflect on the state of our heart, the community comes alongside to remind us of the love of God displayed in spite of our sins.  That freedom gives rise to a desire to witness, to share our journey with others.  As we share our story, we quickly come to realize our constant need for Jesus. So we go back to the community to be reminded again and again of the gospel and to be sent out again to “speak the Word” to others.

Let me share a short example.  Part of the training that our Europe team gives each year to our summer interns is a rehearsal of the gospel and its implications for our lives.  I do not think the interns realize that we do this as much for ourselves as we do for them.  Since May, as I heard different members of the France team share about an aspect of the gospel, my heart has been convicted and inspired.  Convicted as I realize how deep sin runs in my life.  Inspired as a desire welled up within my heart to share this good news with others, realizing again that all my sins are forgiven and I stand before God as one of His children.  After each talk, I felt “thrust out” to share my journey with others.  Not all my efforts bear fruit and I must come back again to community to be reminded of the central motivation for my witness.

These two powerful dynamics (community & witness) are used by God to create a people for Himself: local, visible communities of believers who begin to “move” in the same way.  Is it “being” or “doing”?  It’s both because God’s long-term “mission” is a Church that radiates His love in and through our lives!

In September, I hope to explore together with you some of the heart transformations & ministry changes that God may use to cause ‘movement’ in our worlds.

1 See John Wilson’s July, 2008, Link article for further thoughts on this idea.
2 I am indebted to Alain Nisus and his message: “Croissance par la parole” (given at Eglise de Cergy St Christophe, 06.15.2008) for these thoughts.  The message is available on the WT intranet for those interested:
https://wtglobal.net:18104/InternationalDirector/TATJ/Attachments/

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