Monthly Archives: March 2012
I have a few memories of coloring books from childhood–remember those?–if you went to Sunday school, they were often thickly stenciled images of Jesus holding lambs or a dozen children on his lap with a blue sash and a lackluster smile. But I didn’t care what it was; my job was to color it in! And oh did I. I spent way too much time getting the shades and tones “just right,” and making sure the crayons didn’t bleed into the borders of Jesus’ head, for fear that the he might turn out looking like a Smurf. I would get frustrated when one of my friends would grab a random crayon (like Razzmatazz), and begin coloring Jesus’ face with it, only to choose a different, also unnatural color, for his hands. Grr. Of course, this was further compounded by the kid’s blatant disregard for…
Yeah, that’s right—he kept scribbling outside of the bold black lines of Jesus’ face. Imagine my horror. Sometimes I would correct said person to remind them that the proper goal of art is to color within the lines. Later, I would get a taste of my own medicine, but instead of coloring books…it would come in the form of mission…
Mission in the church is often privatized.
We sometimes fall into the error of thinking that mission happens solely at the hands of a corporate entity. The New Testament shows a church that is both scattered and gathered; at some points in the week, we gather together as the church in a visible congregation, while other times, we are the church scattered and dispersed throughout neighborhoods, schools, and workplaces.
Because of the mega-church culture birthed out of the 1980’s, we have the “gathered” element of church down, but have forgotten what it means or looks like to be scattered. The easy reaction, then, to mission, is to relegate it all to a group of professional clergy, and the building where we meat as a gathered congregation.
Some churchgoers love the idea of mission, but still expect it to happen within the walls of the church building.
We evidence this by the large number of programs we depend on throughout the week for our quota of mission and evangelism. Programs are not bad, per se, but neither are they everything, and are certainly not the full spectrum of the church’s calling as a light to the world. And yet, our initial convictions when the local church lacks activity in the community, is to start a program: small group night, single’s night, homeless ministry night, street-witnessing night, etc. Instead of taking the responsibility (as the scattered church), we place it back on an impersonal institution (which is not the church). We are elevating programs to the highest level of mission, when Jesus relegated his highest levels of mission to small communities of ordinary people.
Church programs are our coloring line!
Think about this: if the entire church body looks to the clergy to get mission done, we are drastically limiting the influence and power of available church goers. We are taking 30, or 300, or 3000–however many members worship at our church–and bottlenecking a potential grassroots movement to the small capacity of the church staff! In doing so, we stifle a movement and relegate the exciting call of following Jesus to a few “anointed” people and their programs.
We’ve got to view mission as something that is much more broad than what the church staff, or selected leaders, are capable of launching and overseeing. We need to understand mission as a personal responsibility that happens within community, during the ordinary course of our daily lives. We must not depend on clergy, but on each other in the body of Christ.
I doubt that Jesus intended to change the world through weekly programs. But he seemed to spend a lot of time with his twelve disciples, doing life together.
Will the Kingdom of God expand only through official church programs, or might it allow the imaginations of the “laity” to run wild with missional zeal?
For crying out loud, let’s color outside the lines.
Gabe Lyons posted a discussion with Margaret Feinberg about the tendency for Christians to become “sheltered.” I found the following quote more true than I am comfortable with…
Christians get pretty easily offended. When we find ourselves when we are confronted with the fallen world, or things that we might not agree with, we tend to react by withdrawing or pulling away and being offended by it. And it seems that Jesus’ approach or even Paul’s approach, as we read the scriptures is that he was provoked. He was provoked to engage. He didn’t run from it, but more or less tried to get involved in the conversation and listen and better help articulate what the gospel means in the middle of a fallen world.
How do we find the balance between being in the world (John 17:15-16), and being unstained by the world? (James 1:27)
I once heard Eugene Peterson verb the Sabbath, while explaining how it was a state of being, more than a list of things not to do. He called it “Sabbath-ing.” What a provocative thought! If Jesus fulfills our Sabbath rest, then we can exist in a constant place of enjoying him. And this is true rest, which can can occur, not only in sacred practices, but also in the mundane, the ordinary, the secular. This made me think of taking photos.
iPhoneography has been a hobby of mine for a few years. Even though I have a full-time family that I love, spend many other hours in an office at work, and am part of a community, I still purpose time to go out on the town and shoot photos with my phone. (Here is my Flickr account. My Instagram: @chrislazo)
It is completely separate from my work space, yet engrained in the way I relax and create. It energizes me! What is more fascinating is that I do nothing that is inherently “spiritual.” I’m not necessarily praying or participating in a Bible study when I am on the Carpinteria bluffs shooting pictures. Nor am I practicing piety while snapping a picture of a couple embracing on a subway. Yet, I am enjoying life through Jesus in the way he has wired me, and this is through a phone lens.
Of course, iPhonegraphy does not replace marinating in Scripture, or the time spent in prayer…but it is just as much a part of my spiritual rest, my Sabbath. This all leads me to curiosity…
How are you Sabbath-ing?
I am not involved with Invisible Children (IC), but I must say that their ability to influence swells of Millennials toward a cause is fascinating.
Their latest video hit 62 million views in a week, and has an ambitious goal: to make a tyrant famous. You’ll just have to watch it for yourself, if you haven’t already.
If IC can mobilize Millennials like this, what the heck aren’t we doing?
As many of you know, I am an introvert. I have written about the beauty of introversion, and the flaws of introversion. What you may not know, is that introverts take up around half of this readership. (Maybe more than half, since you are–ahem–reading a blog). In a world that seems largely biased towards extroverts, may the rest of this post serve as a breath of fresh air to my contemplative friends reading. Below is a 20 minute TED talk given by Susan Cain on the beauty of introversion, and the profound need the world has for more of us to simply “be”. We need extroverts and introverts. I hope this encourages you.