Sometimes I just need to get “outside” myself to see things clearly. Having been a Southern Baptist Pastor for the last 17 years, the old ways die hard. Friday, as I talked with my church planting coach, Roy McClung, I voiced some of my frustrations about how slow the process goes. He reminded me of a couple of key things that I am keeping in mind as The Journey moves forward, and they go great with my last post, so I thought I’d share them:
1) Don’t give in to the pressure to “close the deal.” As a cultural missionary, building relationships, learning needs and ministry opportunities, and earning the right to speak are paramount to future success with potential Persons of Peace. Don’t shift into the old mode of “If you were to die tonight…” too quickly. It’s very rare for cultural missionaries to have even one convert in their first year. If I am really moved for the unreached, I must set aside my agenda and learn to move among the paths they move in, learning and earning as I go.
2) Don’t spread yourself too thin. In the last four months or so, I’ve been blessed with a bunch of new relationships with people who are not connected with Christ and with some who have disconnected from His local faith community. While making new relationships is important, don’t focus too much on making more at the expense of building the ones that you’ve established. I have about 8 people that are new to my world, and I am new in their oikos. Now, my focus has to be to know them more deeply and love them unconditionally.
3) Don’t turn your nose up to depravity. As my new friends have discovered that I am a Christ-follower, and pastor, some have tried to shock me with things they find entertaining, humorous, or enjoyable. At first I was dumbfounded, but I soon realized they're trying to see if I’m like the other Christians they've met, who will judge them and turn away because of their depravity. A healthy remembering of my own depravity keeps me from being repulsed by theirs. As Paul said, “There, but for the grace of God, go I.” And, honestly, "There, inspite of the grace of God, go I." Let's face it, I still blow it! It's a sobering reminder.
Thanks, Roy, for keeping me grounded and reminding me that to be truly moved for the unreached means loving people, investing meaningful time with them, and not being afraid to be in the world (just not of it).
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