This week I am at the Bible Centred Youthwork conference, a conference dedicated to focusing the work among children and young people in our churches on the principles and content of the Bible.
I have been sharing my notes for the day and a simple thought/reflection on the what particular struck me that day. Here are my notes and thoughts from the two main sessions on Day 3.
Where missiology meets anthropology
1 Thessalonians 2:7-12
We often encourage one another that people are being saved all around the world every day. But what about all the people that aren’t being saved? 2 Corinthians 4 tells us that if the Gospel is veiled it is veiled to those who are perishing. Mankind is blind, enslaved, ignorant, dead. That is why only God can give sight, set free, make wise, and give life.
That is why we preach Christ plainly. That is why we need to pray earnestly. But is proclamation the only thing we should engage in, in terms of mission?
Which should be the focus of our missional outreach: preaching alone, good works alone?
The answer is: both. Paul shared Christ by preaching the Gospel clearly, simply and plainly. But in 1 Thessalonians 2 we are reminded that he also shared his life with those he preached the Gospel to.
Preach, live and show the Gospel
5 things we need to remember about humanity…
- Humans are made in the image of God, albeit fractured by sin.
- Humans still have access to natural revelation, and can understand something of God from it.
- Humans have a conscience, a law written on our hearts.
- Humans receive common grace from God, regardless of our standing before him.
- Humans are all descended from people who have received special revelation
People need to hear the Gospel proclaimed and see it lived out among them.
Bill Hybels in Becoming a contagious Christian has this summary, which is a helpful reminder of the component parts that should make up the sum of our missional outreach…
HP + CP + CC = MI
HP – High Potency: living in a clearly loving and attractive way.
CP – Close Proximity: living in amongst unbelievers.
CC – Clear Communication: proclaiming the Gospel clearly and plainly.
MI – Maximum Impact: reaching people with the Gospel as best as we can.
An unfinished task
2 Corinthians 5
Consider this framework for engaging people apologetically/philosophically:
5 peripheral questions…
- Where do we come from?
- What are we here for?
- Where are we going?
- What’s wrong?
- What’s the solution?
1 key question that follows on from the ones above:
- How do you know?
Everybody has answers to these questions (even if these answers are not well thought through) and, because of the key question, everything is a faith position. Yet only Christianity has answers that come from outside of humanity, as God comes down to us in human history and speaks to us, first by the prophets and then by his Son (Hebrews 1).
The future shapes the present
How we think about these big questions – particularly the ones concerning our future – will impact how we live in the here and now.
We are camping now but will have a home (v1-5)
We are currently ‘camping’ in this life and this creation. Tents are vulnerable and temporary. Homes are secure and permanent. When this ‘tent’ (life/creation) is dismantled, we get to move into (or will be clothed with) our true life/home.
We can have courage and confidence (v6-10)
Our future hope gives us courage and confidence now because we have purpose in serving Jesus while we wait for his return and have hope in our eternal life with Jesus. Now we live by faith, but then we will see Jesus and live by sight and will stand before him and give an account of our stewardship of our lives.
We know why it is important to fear Jesus and strive for faithfulness (v11-13)
In light of our future standing before Jesus, we get on with the task he has given us and try to convince others to turn to Jesus so that they will not have to give an account of their sin in judgment but of their life in grace.
How this applies to our ministries…
- Our ministry can spur people on to something that Jesus will commend them for.
- The responsibility we have means that we will most likely have tough conversations that confront sin.
- We mustn’t let wrong fear of man drive us, but instead be driven by right fear of God standing in the grace of Christ.
- We must endeavour to open people’s eyes to the grandness and supremacy of God.
The past shapes the present
The cross compels us and convinces us (v14-17)
The cross of Christ compels us to set forth the truth of Christ plainly, as his ambassadors. He died for us in our place and he stands for us before the father. Therefore we now live to serve him as his representative to the lost.
We are his ambassadors (v18-21)
We serve Jesus by living as his ambassadors, making the appeal of Jesus through us, that people be reconciled to God. Jesus has died for us in our place, so come to him and turn back to God.
My thoughts from the day
I found Bill Hybels little summary equation really helpful, and confirms what we are/have been working on in our church with regard to Community Groups. I would slightly reword/rework it though…
Loving like Christians (HP) + Living as Christians (CP) + Speaking as Christians (CC) = Being effective Christians (MI)
Or, using the terminology of our Community Groups…
Care + Discipleship + Mission = Effective and intentional Gospel people
Who wouldn’t want to be a part of that?