Thursday, May 14, 2009

...the edges of eternity.

God arms me with strength, He has made my way safe.
He makes me as surefooted as a deer,
leading me safely along the mountain heights."
-Psalms 18

I have had many conversations about issues related to our church's "missional position"...(no pun intended) and how its too edgy, too culturally influenced, too liberal, too worldly, too earthy, too natural, too artsy, too social, too profane...and you could probably add a few others. It's fairly easy to get offended around here in one way or the other...because we aim at living out the tensions of this verse:

"Save others by snatching them from the fire. To others, show mercy with fear, hating even the clothes stained by their sinful lives." -Jude 1:23

Sometimes we hit the target, other times we don't...but we consistently keep trying.

The general missional rule in our church is that we are seeking to speak to the unreached culture we are engaging...and though we are sensitive to all people; the demographic that gets uptight about these things...isnt the bullseye we are shooting for.

We take the missional ethic of Jesus as our excuse:

"I didnt come to call righteous people and it's the sick that need a doctor"...-Jesus

There are plenty of other differently mission minded churches than ours, there's plenty good ones to pick from.

But there are also many churches that will keep their programing within that safe middle ground. We will aim at being biblically sound, but culturally on the edge. Im not seeking to build a church that's guiding principle is maintaining a gentle, primary upper-middle class, christian bubble subculture; that's aim is to hyper-shield, over-protect, consistently sanitize and knee jerkingly withdraw from the people we are called to love.

Those panicky scruples are all characteristics of the church culture that dangerously plays it safe. They breed a "lift me up" or "brassiere Churchianity"; that is more about upholding the "sagging" numbers than aggressively living out the radically edge traversing gospel. These mindsets and values add to the continual decline of apostolically motivated missional churches that are witnessing to the clear, visible, simple gospel. Fear of offending the frozen chosen has crippled radically fresh initiatives that more mission minded congregations would support.

Having our feet shod with the gospel of peace...isnt about putting slippers on. They are more like rock climbing shoes, not really great for much else than traversing, risky, life threatening, adrenaline pumping cliff faces....usually desolate places left for devils, angels and lost sheep.

It's about God giving us the feet of the deer and going places that would normally kill another creature. It's about living dangerously but being ever held by the power of God in our missional endeavors.

Yes, one slip and you could fall to your death...but if you have never been dangling on the edges of haven't truly lived!


Wes said...

Brother Eric...
Not all people will like what JW is doing. Not all people will like your preaching. Not all people will like getting a bear-hug from Mike-Mike on a Sunday morning. Not all people will like being encouraged to stretch their social circle to include a demographic of people they aren't used to. I wish that the people who aren't attracted to what JW is doing would simply acknowledge that fact & move on. Instead, many find it neccesary to take parting shots on the way out the door.
I've also found the reverse to be true i.e. when someone leaves a church or chooses to go elswhere, the remaining acquaintances take a few shots at them after they leave.
What JW is doing in Spokane, on a missional basis, is VERY unique. I don't believe it (outreach) is as common as you think. Here in Boise there is a church is NOT having services this Sunday. They have over 60 acts of service lined up out in the community for church members to engage in this Sunday. I asked the pastor how often this happened & he told me "Once a year. The members would get burnt out if it was more often." They even had t-shirts printed up commemorating the "event".
So you see, the "missional position" of Jacobs Well is genuine, honest and real.... 24/7, 365. Some people don't want or can't handle that. That's fine. There's a church out there for everyone.
Reminds me of the old joke... Paient: "Doctor, my arm hurts when I turn it this way. What should I do?"
Doctor: "Don't turn your arm that way."

Just my 2 cents...

joey said...

i for one, am glad to be part of a church that is not a "social club"...
even though i do feel some elements of that even at the well, sad to say....
hopefully there won't be any of that in Heaven..
but, i also have never been part of a church that does so much to reach out to the community..and that is why i call the well home.

FCB said...

When I read that people criticize you I have to say it doesn’t bring out my most gracious side. I suppose I am somewhat to blame, my influence not always setting the most dignified example. But it reminds me of an agricultural story.
A city gal was walking in a peach orchard with a farmer and they came across this tree that was laden with peaches so that the boughs brushed the soil.
The city gal remarked “that the tree must be getting old and worthless because it’s allowing some dust and dirt to get on all that fruit!”
I consider Jacob’s Well and it’s current Pastor, like that bough, laden with so much fruit that it bends down to the ground; shall we worry if the pulpit has a little dust on it? I think not.
Love Dad

joey said...

fruit needs a little dirt to grow.....