Before I knew anything about S/O/M, I was committed to missions and outreach to those who don't know Christ, because I wanted others to have what I have in Jesus. It's that simple. To me, it all boils down to the fact that God sent his Son, so that we might have fellowship with Them, and so He sends us for the same purpose. It just isn't anymore complicated than that.
So if this is true, why have we seen such little impact of a movement that has all the elements of going viral because in principle, all the participants are sent on mission?
Because the majority of those who are living Simple and Organic paradigms are not living Missionally. Sadly, it's just a "buzz" word for most, the latest "cool" thing to talk about, but with very little reality or practice in their lives.
Let's get to it, and those who have ears to hear, let him/her hear.
First of all, let's look at what we're doing pretty well; the First Leg - The Fellowship Leg of The Table vision, has some good stuff happening. Let's look at some of it:
- We have various styles and types of Simple and Organic church.
- The essence of church as a family is happening.
- We are doing a much better job at all of us reading, studying and understanding The Word.
- People are exploring, practicing and growing in their gifts with one another.
- We are getting better at understanding that leadership is more like a mother and father, and less like a CEO.
- We are enjoying playing, eating, and learning together, making our fellowship experience more like normal life and it's ebbs and flows.
- We are learning that Christian life and fellowship is not what we "do" but who we "are".
- We are understanding that there is no "secular" vs "sacred" - but we serve God holistically in all areas of our life.
- We are understanding there is no laity or clergy, but all of us are called to listen, obey, serve and minister.
- We are finally learning that the 5-fold gifts of Apostle, Prophet, Pastor, Teacher, Evangelist are for the equipping of the saints for the real ministry, and not for platforms of notoriety, fame, power and prestige.
The truth and reality is that not many of us are truly reaching out to those who don't know Jesus, and living missionally. Why not? I've heard such explanations like; we need more intercession, it's not God's timing yet, we need more S/O churches to mother/father all the New Believers that will result, we are not called to mission (because that is "works") but rather to Jesus alone, we need persecution to force us, we live in a different culture, we're too busy to invest the time and commitment it takes. Heard or said any of them yourself? Maybe none, some or all of these are true, and I've even said a few myself trying to understand why we are not reaching out in mission. However, in seeing that the life and vibrancy of the First Leg of The Table vision stemmed from their being connected and invested in the Second Leg of The Table which was made up of those who didn't know Christ, and seeing how the church in the Book of Acts grew, and in places like India, China and Africa is growing today - I don't think those reasons hold much merit. I think the truth is we are afraid, discouraged with previous attempts, too busy, too self focused, lazy, expect others to do it, and find excuses for our lack of mission and make it sound spiritual so we can let ourselves off the hook.
Am I being too harsh? I'm hoping to exhort you to fulfill the whole purposes of God in your life to use you to bring the light, the fragrance, the saltiness of Jesus to those He has destined you to reach.
When I teach about S/O/M church I do the following visual: I have a few from the group come and stand in a circle, holding hands. A good and familiar picture of what we do pretty well in our Christian fellowship. We are together, supporting one another, linked and joined in community. All good. Yet we are only looking at, and are focused on each other as we face inward. No wonder our groups become ingrown, unhealthy, and full of the elements of the flesh we are warned about in Scripture.
Now, flip everyone around, so that each is facing outward. Still holding hands in support, linked and joined together, covering each others' backside. But the difference is that the focus is outward. Each person is gazing outward from the group at a slightly different angle than those on either side, into a unique and specific journey of mission that the Lord has destined EACH of us to walk in. The Word says, "For we are God's workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do." (Ephesians 2:10).
Living missionally means we are continually sowing Christ into the lives of people all around us.
In Greenhouse training we learn about the four different types of soils that Jesus teaches us about in Matthew 13. Of the four identified soils, only one of those soils actually produces lasting fruit and real salvation. The problem for us is that we cannot judge by looking at it, which one is the fruitful soil. Only Jesus and the Father know the soil of a man's heart. We are called to sow, and sow a lot, leaving the results up to God. Many times I've sown in soil I judged to be "the good and receptive soil" only to have that person end up just the opposite. And I also have resisted sowing in some soil I judged to be too hard, rocky and unreceptive, only to have it produce incredible fruits of salvation in the person! I simply cannot, and neither can you, be accurate in soil evaluations. Therefore, we have to sow a lot and trust God to do His work, and only His work, in creating a disciple out of the soil of their heart. I firmly believe that as we are obedient to this, and growing in faithfulness, that we will become more and more like Jesus, who "only did that which He saw the Father do" (John 5:19) Then we will be incredibly effective in our sowing, because we've learned to be great at listening and responding to the Father's voice in obedience.
What if you asked Jesus to show you three people this week that you could invest in that are not Christians? Can you commit to living a week of intentional missionality, and see what God might do through you?
Pretend you are just like Jesus, waking up in the morning and turning to The Father and asking; "who do You want me to reach out to today Father? Who are you working in that I will come in contact with? Let me join you Father, in Your work to reach and save those who are lost, and those sheep without a shepherd."
Then do what Jesus did. Listen and obey, and see what God will do through you.