Monday, February 19, 2007

Reformission #1: "eat, drink, and be a merry missionary"

A few weeks ago, our senior pastor challenged us to reach out to our community, sharing our "Most Important Relationship." Most of us are pretty intimidated to share our faith. I'll confess that, while I like it once I'm in the process, I'm not great at getting those conversations started. But I want, like most of you, to see our community reached for God's glory.

I thought, since Pastor Mike issued the challenge, it might be good to offer some thought-provoking questions about how we can reach our community in Cypress.A few weeks ago I read a good book called The Radical Reformission by Mark Driscoll. He's theologically conservative, but committed to bringing the gospel to his culture in a relevant way. His book isn't for everyone, but it is nothing if not entertaining and thought-provoking. Over this next series of "Reformission" posts, I'll give a brief description of his chapter and then some good questions all of us could work through to reach your community - because, as Driscoll notes, there are so many sub-cultures around us that we all could be reaching different communities within just a few miles of your church.

Chapter 1: "eat, drink, and be a merry missionary: imitating the reformission of Jesus"

Jesus is the model of mission. Driscoll talks about Jesus' encounter with the Samaritan woman and how we need to be willing to cross barriers if we really want to be a people on mission. A little explaining is probably in order.Jewish men didn't have much, if anything, to do with women outside their family and particularly not Samaritans. Samaritans were despised. I've read that Jews would walk all around Samaria just to avoid being defiled by their land. Samaria was part of the former Northern Kingdom of Israel and, after the Jews were deported after Assyria crushed them in 722 BC, the land was re-populated with a variety of people with whom the Jews, upon returning, inter-married with. In essence, the Jews of Jesus' variety saw the Samaritans as shameful half-breeds. There were also religious issues. The Samaritans had their own temple on Mt. Gerizim and they only accepted the five books of Moses (the Pentateuch, which is Genesis through Deuteronomy in our Bibles). Obviously the Jews in Jerusalem didn't care much for the Samaritans.And yet, Jesus reached out to this despised people. And not just any Samaritan, but one who came to get water during the heat of the day because she was a Samaritan that even the Samaritans didn't like, an immoral woman. And yet Jesus loved her and offered her the living water that only He can offer.

A key quote for us to grapple with from Mark Driscoll's book is this: "To be Christian, literally, is to be a 'little Christ.' It is imperative that Christians be like Jesus, by living freely within the culture as missionaries who are as faithful to the Father and his gospel as Jesus was in his own time and place" (p. 40). Driscoll offers some good questions for us to wrestle with if we want to reach the many communities we reach within our little community of the Cypress area.

If you have not recently read the account of Jesus and thewoman at the well,
I would encourage you to read John 4:1-42 and then answer thefollowing

1. Who do some Christians in your town, or the larger area inwhich you live,
consider to be Samaritans? Why do you think someChristians dislike them?
2. What parts of your town or area are like Samaria to you - theplaces you avoid
because you do not like the people who live there?
3. What were the Samaritan woman's sins? What do you thinkmight be some of hte common sins among the Samaritans in your town?
4. What pains must the woman's sins have caused her? Whatpains are your Samaritans' sins causing them?
5. In your area, where are the Jacob's wells and pagan templeswhere the Samaritans hang out?
6. What barriers did Jesus need to cross to evangelize theSamaritan woman?
What barriers would you need to cross to connect with theSamaritans in your
7. What changes took place in the woman's lifestyle? What might change in the lives of the Samaritans in your town or area if they met Jesus and repented of their sinful lifestyles?
8. Why do you think Jesus' disciples did not say anything whenthey saw him speaking with the Samaritan woman? What do you think some ofyour Christian friends might say if you befriended a Samaritan?
9. Why was the woman at the well best suited to do mission toSychar? Which
people, if converted, would be best suited for mission inyour town?
10. What was Jesus' sense of urgency for harvesting souls, and doyou and your Christian friends share his sense of urgency? Why or why not?
11. In what ways is your salvation story (or perhaps the story ofsomeone you know) similar to the story of the woman at the well?
(Mark Driscoll, The Radical Reformission pp. 40-41)

I hope this post helps all of us start being intentional about reaching our community. This is the first in a seven part series, based on the chapters of Driscoll's book. Enjoy and share any insights that we all might learn from. It has already helped us be more intentional in our new apartment. We haven't been intentional witnesses in the other places we've lived, but we intend to do better here. For example, an easy way to meet people is basic hospitality (and having two adorable kids). So Suzanne, myself, and the girls took Valentine's cupcakes to the neighbors just to say, "Hi. We're new in the neighborhood/complex." We'll pray these relationships turn into friendships.

For example, which of the questions most challenges or troubles you? Or, if there's an area where you feel like God has gifted you in line with these questions, tell us about it.


Zacheus said...

yay blogs! ;) answer maybe a couple of these questions I would say a common "Samaritan" to us Christians are the young crowd of adolescents who spend each week doing the same exact thing. They drink and pass drugs around and party hardy every single week. It seems apparent to me that these are a forsaken bunch by many Christians. These kids live in a world where we dare not tread. But these kids need truth too! They live from weekend to weekend exposing themselves to the same empty pleasures. Not only do they need truth, but they are actually looking for it. We, as Christians, have the answer they are looking for. I have been in a few conversations with a few kids I have come in contact with. Though it usually turns into a debate because many of these kids are very skeptical and have questions for which answers are scarce.

This is a group that has recently been on my heart and that I have been trying to reach out too. I think i may have strayed off a little ;) I just want to encourage others engage these kids. They are the next generation. I, like Justin, am hesitant to initiate these convesations, but once they've started; they are very stimulating! so it!

Justin said...


Thanks for posting. I'm glad you're out there. It would be great to hear the others that have been put on others' hearts. The next question would be, "How do we take Jesus to these various cultures without getting sucked in to the sin of these cultures?" (And that can be drugs, etc... like you're talking about, or comfortable suburban materialistic Christianity, or any number of others).