On Wednesday I wrote that pursuing missional communities will affect your life and yesterday I wrote about how it will affect your church, and today we’ll look at the affect on the world.
I genuinely believe that a church that pursues missional communities will see the beneficial impact in their community, but also an even bigger impact to the world around them. Everyone has a concept of church, whether they have grown up with a church experience or only developed their perception of church from afar and many of them are not favorable.
A church that becomes a collection of communities that seeks to extend the benefits of the gospel of Christ that they have received becomes a blessing to a neighborhood and a city. The desire of Jesus for His people was that they would know Him and make Him known.
When this happens and the truth of Jesus becomes clearly articulated and demonstrated, there are some big implications for the world, but I’d like to focus on 3.
Experience Jesus rather than Bad Religion
The aim of a missional community is to embody Jesus to their neighbors and neighborhood. It truly takes a group of people to do this as Jesus was more than just a teacher. He was a healer, a man who enjoyed meals with people from every walk of life, compassionate to the hurting, a man who confronted with hard truth and with gracious love, a man filled with wisdom, and much more.
Only a community of people that sees every member as a valuable contributor can truly display Jesus and not just bad religion. Bad religion is putting forth moral perfection, judgmental condemnation of people, and religious activity as the door to experiencing acceptance in Christian community.
It’s impossible to read the gospels and see that as Jesus’ method of invitation to experiencing His presence. A community formed by the gospel of Christ remembers their worth is based in Christ’s perfections and not their own, so they invite people every moral persuasion and background to experience authentic and caring relationships.
It doesn’t have to be called missional community (we call it Community Group), but ultimately it has the feeling of a functional family who experiences love from God and one another making it easy to extend love to anyone.
Receive Blessings rather than judgments
When this happens, the world begins to receive blessings from Christians rather than those amazing judgmental looks we’ve been too good at giving. Since we have the cross of Jesus Christ that pays the penalty for all sin, takes the full wrath of God’s punishment, we shouldn’t be shocked or surprised by any behavior or bad choices in the world. Judgment comes when you think you would never do something, but the scriptures speak of our capabilities of making mistakes as being infinitely greater than we want to give ourselves credit.
So a group of Christians that recognizes judgment has been given to Christ instead of them by their faith in Christ knows they now receive blessing when they don’t deserve it. Instead of sitting around enjoying the benefits package and God’s blessings, the only appropriate response is to extend that blessing.
I’ve seen this happen within our church on a number of occasions. From 2 women passionate about foster care creating a way for foster girls in NYC to develop community and then serve their neighborhood when they are used to being served, to a Community Group in Chelsea that spends time after work and on weekends caring for and being available for children in the projects.
It creates a community looking to extend creative compassion to meet the needs of their neighborhood. So a community group in Brooklyn Heights connects with a park manager and all join together in his efforts to clean the local park. Multiple community groups on the upper west side wake up early to serve the homeless at a soup kitchen, and others on the upper east side spend time at the Ronald McDonald House blessing families and kids facing some of the toughest times of their life.
The world is looking for an organization to bless them, to care for them when they face trials and tough times. The government continues to fail them because their motivation and abilities to meet actual needs is inhibited by politics and self-preservation. Only the church has the sustaining motivation of continually experiencing blessing from God to meet the needs of the world. For too long, we’ve selfishly been satisfied with our own blessing and letting our world suffer. A true gospel-centered community on mission extends the blessings of the gospel to the world.
Faced with a Life-Changing Crossroads
Now before it sounds like this is easy and the world only receive benefits, one of the biggest implications is that the world, and more specifically our neighbors, will be faced with a life-changing crossroads.
The gospel of Jesus Christ has large benefits and huge blessings, but it also comes at a cost. To fully experience the blessings of Christ is to submit your life to Christ as the king of your life forever. This means that the our friends, family, co-workers, and neighbors will eventually be confronted with a lifestyles that follows Christ that contrasts their own.
The Christian places their trust in Christ with every decision of their life, to let the word of God be the definer of how we approach and even conduct our lives. Many times, if not at every turn, this confronts our natural desires or cultural way of life.
A missional community presents these crossroads the way they were intended to be presented, inside of a loving community shaped by the gracious love and mercy of God. Only then will these crossroads make sense because it understands that a loving God is inviting every one of us to follow Him with every aspect of life.
Choosing to pursue missional communities has big implications for your life, your church, and the world in which you live. This is because having faith in Christ demands that we align our lives with a community that is seeking to follow and love Christ. This alignment means shifting the status quo in these areas to embody the type of community that Christ modeled for us on earth and creates for us through faith in His death and resurrection.
I genuinely believe the world would be better off if we chose to live our lives with this mentality. I also believe they are ready and waiting for us to do so.