“Breaking the Missional Code”

I recently read Breaking the Missional Code by Ed Stetzer and David Putman. The book aims to help churches become missionaries in their communities.

According to the authors, “breaking the code … means discovering the principles that work in every context, selecting the tools most relevant for your context … and then learning to apply them in a missionally effective manner. It means thinking missiologically” (2).

For many churches, “missions” simply means supporting missionaries and ministries in other countries, but “missional thinking means doing missions everywhere” (3), including our local communities, as well as other countries.

Our local communities in the United States are becoming greater mission fields. In all mission fields there are barriers that have to be crossed. Stetzer and Putman state, “Breaking the code means that we have to recognize that there are cultural barriers (in addition to spiritual ones) that blind people from understanding the gospel” (4). Breaking the code is about finding ways to bridge those barriers.

Bridging the barriers begins with love. If we’re going to reach our communities with the good news of Jesus Christ, we must love people.

You cannot grow a biblically faithful church without loving people and preaching the gospel. But loving people means understanding and communicating with them. Preaching the gospel means to proclaim a gospel about the Word becoming flesh—and proclaiming that the body of Christ needs to become incarnate in every cultural expression. (15)

The part of the book that will stick with me the most are the four phrases that describe the church’s mission. The authors state, “Jesus gave four directives that outline the missional mandate of the church” (30) …

  • We are sent (John 20.21)
  • To all kinds of people (Matthew 28.18-20)
  • With a message (Luke 24.46-48)
  • Empowered by the Spirit (Acts 1.6-8)

Indeed, we are sent to all kinds of people with a message, empowered by the Holy Spirit!

5 Ways to Honor God With Your Time

Stewardship is about honoring God with what he’s blessed us with. One of God’s gifts is time. And, it’s a precious gift, because in the grand scheme of things, our time on earth is extremely brief!

Lord, remind me how brief my time on earth will be. Remind me that my days are numbered—how fleeting my life is. (Psalm 39.4, NLT)

So, we want to make the most of our time on the planet.

Teach us to number our days so we can have a wise heart. (Psalm 90.12, CEB)

Of all of the ways we might honor God with our time, here are 5 that I think are critically important …

  1. Connect with God! (prayer, reading Scripture, worship, etc.)
  2. Serve God’s purposes in the world!
  3. Spend quality and quantity time with family (or primary relationships)!
  4. Create margin! (sabbath, rest, self-care, etc.)
  5. “Ruthlessly eliminate hurry!” (John Ortberg)

What other ways do you think help us honor God with our time?

Train: My One Word for 2015

My One Word for 2015 is TRAIN. It was the focus of my sermon on Super Bowl Sunday.

Last year, I challenged people to come up with One Word, and so far this year, we have nearly twice as many people who submitted their one words for the year! (My one word last year was CHASE).

Super Bowl Sunday was a great time to talk about training. A few weeks ago, I read a great article about Tom Brady by Greg Bishop. The article describes Tom Brady’s tremendous discipline in his ongoing, year-round training.

I love what the Bible says about training. In fact, I believe training is the Bible’s word for discipleship.

When the Apostle Paul talked about training, he illustrated it by talking about the sporting event of his day (likely the Isthmian Games, which were held the years before and after the Olympic Games) …

24 Don’t you realize that in a race everyone runs, but only one person gets the prize? So run to win! 25 All athletes are disciplined in their training. They do it to win a prize that will fade away, but we do it for an eternal prize. 26 So I run with purpose in every step. I am not just shadowboxing. 27 I discipline my body like an athlete, training it to do what it should. Otherwise, I fear that after preaching to others I myself might be disqualified. (1 Corinthians 9.24-27, NLT)

Paul often referred to his own training. He said, “I’m a Jew, born in Tarsus in Cilicia but raised in this city. Under Gamaliel’s instruction, I was trained in the strict interpretation of our ancestral Law” (Acts 22.3, CEB). He also said, “As the Jewish leaders are well aware, I was given a thorough Jewish training from my earliest childhood among my own people and in Jerusalem” (Acts 26.4, NLT).

Proverbs 22.6 is familiar to many people: “Train children in the way they should go; when they grow old, they won’t depart from it” (CEB). Paul adds, “Fathers, do not make your children angry, but raise them with the training and teaching of the Lord” (Ephesians 6.4, NCV). Offering more advice, he says, “older women must train the younger women to love their husbands and their children” (Titus 2.4, NLT).

In another well-known Scripture, Paul states, “Every scripture is inspired by God and is useful for teaching, for showing mistakes, for correcting, and for training character” (2 Timothy 3.16, CEB).

Life experience also trains us. The writer to the Hebrews notes, “No discipline is fun while it lasts, but it seems painful at the time. Later, however, it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness for those who have been trained by it” (Hebrews 12.11, CEB).

Some people have trouble reconciling grace and training (or effort). But I love what Dallas Willard said: “Grace is not opposed to effort. It is opposed to earning.” Our spiritual training is not about earning; it’s about growing in grace and becoming more and more like Jesus in every way!

Paul says grace is an important part of our training. He writes, “For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation to all people. It trains us to reject godless ways and worldly desires and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in the present age” (Titus 2.11-12, NET).

Paul, writing to his trainee, Timothy, writes …

If you point these things out to the believers, you will be a good servant of Christ Jesus who has been trained by the words of faith and the good teaching that you’ve carefully followed. … Train yourself for a holy life! While physical training has some value, training in holy living is useful for everything. It has promise for this life now and the life to come. (1 Timothy 4.6-8, CEB)

Train yourself for a holy life!

Jesus spent the final years of his life and ministry training his followers. He informed them, “A disciple is not greater than his teacher, but everyone when fully trained will be like his teacher” (Luke 6.40, NET). When fully trained, we will be like our teacher, Jesus!

As I focus on the word train this year, I want to train in the areas of …
– Connecting with God!
– Leadership & Communication
– Exercise & Nutrition
– Sleep & Rest

A key part of my training is my early morning routine where I get up early, spend time connecting with God and reading. Then, after breakfast with the kids and walking them to the school bus, exercising before jumping into the rest of my day. Taking a break in the afternoon, especially on days when I have an evening meeting, and getting to bed at a decent time at night, as well as eating well, are also important components.

So, what’s your training regimen?