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January 17, 2012

THOUGHTS ON BEING THE CHURCH

As I continue to grow up in Christ, I pray, ponder, and talk about church life with much more of a sense of urgency. There are many reasons for this sense of urgency, but the most compelling reason is that I am living as a convert. As a person who grew up and was nurtured in traditional church structures, I am being converted by the Holy Spirit from the language of “going to church” to “being church.”

Even though I have always had a heart for seeing people’s lives change in Jesus Christ, I have been formed by a church culture that sees evangelism as the ministry of inviting people to church. This attitude about evangelism affirms that if we simply get people inside the church building, then they will experience Jesus and want to become disciples. My work in evangelism over the past two years has forced me to rethink the ministry of evangelism. Evangelism cannot be the program that helps us grow our church rolls. It must be part of the ministry of growing disciples, which includes building relationships with people outside the church, sharing the gospel, and introducing people to the community of the Body of Christ.

Evangelism must emerge from a disciple-making culture. I am becoming more and more convinced that if we grow up disciples of Jesus Christ, then we will develop people within our faith communities who authentically share faith and serve others. In a disciple-making culture, we experience sharing faith and justice as part of the same gospel ministry of advancing God’s mission of love and restoration.

As I continue to work through The Acts of the Apostles, I am convinced that Alan Hirsch, a leading church planter and missional thinker, is absolutely correct when he says that every church movement must start with Jesus. If we start with Jesus, then we are called into God’s mission through Jesus. As we are on mission, we structure the church, by the power of the Holy Spirit, to carry out this mission. In other words, the worship, teaching, fellowship, and prayer of the community are for the equipping and releasing of people for God’s mission of redemption.

Neil Cole writes in Church 3.0, “I have come to realize that we should stop planting churches. We should plant Jesus, and let Jesus build the church… We have planted religious organizations rather than planting the powerful presence of Christ” (p. 58). After reading these words, I know in my heart that this is the ministry I’m called to pursue. What does it look like for us as to be part of planting the healing, reconciling presence of Christ?

In my own life and ministry, I am committing to pray more with people about what God is doing in our lives and in the community around us. I want to engage Scripture with others and move more deeply into God’s heart for a broken world and mission to restore people, relationships, and creation. I want to be held accountable for my life and the amount of time I’m spending with people outside the church. Through prayer, time in Scripture, community, and serving, I believe that we experience ourselves as the church wherever we are. My prayer for all of us is that we will move more fully from “going to church” to “being the church” wherever we are. And I pray that God will continue to give us a sense of urgency for the mission of reaching people who do not know God’s love in Jesus and bringing God’s justice into a broken and hurting world.

How are you sharing the gospel with the people around you and serving your community? What will need to change in your life to enter more completely into God’s call?

Grace,

Ray Jones


  1. very very good post

    by liappyunwinue

    July 23, 2012

  2. Just found this blog. Thank you for your words and this resource that speaks powerfully to this time - our time. As a fellow convert who is also a teaching elder, I long to see Christians embrace Being Church. Sharing this one and I will be back

    by Celeste Lasich

    January 18, 2012

  3. Grace and peace, Ray! Thank you for your thoughts on the blog this week! I am sitting here, in our living room, drinking coffee and enjoying the quiet of the house. Just rolled in last night from Disney World where I've spent the last week preparing for and then leading the large youth event, Faith in 3D. So, I've spent 7 days with people of faith, young disciples, mentors of young disciples and extremely dedicated adult youth workers. Among all of these people are saints and sages that teach me and inspire me daily - in my quest to follow Christ and live as a believer. As I read your blog this morning I found myself wondering how my "other" friends, my non-church friends, were receiving me, my life, my work. We have a significant group of friends, close friends, who are neither Christian nor believers of any faith. We have long talks about religion and in particular about Christians in today's world. They've all been following my Facebook updates this week, commenting on photos and sending supportive messages and texts. I can feel their love, and even their curiosity about why would a sane, grown woman, want to spend a week at Disney with 1700 teenagers. I loved, in your last paragraph your mention of "being with people outside of the church." This is such a great little nudge for me today. As I shift gears from "conference life" to "real life." Where, when my friends ask me, and they will "How was your event?" "How do you think it went?" I want to answer in a way that bears witness to the deep joy I feel in seeing Jesus' love and continuing presence lifted up among young people and their faithful youth leaders. I want to say enough that my friends have a sense of what it means to follow this person of Christ. And I want to say enough, that they know how very dear their willingness to be with me, a person trying to be the church. So, thoughts from a tired and sleepy soul. But, appreciative thoughts on being church, for young and old, for believers and not.

    by Gina Yeager-Buckley

    January 18, 2012

  4. I liked very much what you had to say here, This is what The true word * work of Jesus Chirst is all about. Amen.

    by Louis Morales

    January 18, 2012

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