Getting Out of Your Seat

1380002_96509223At this year’s Regional Gathering (our denomination’s annual conference) the speaker Caesar Kalinowski made an interesting and very true comment. He said this:

“Very little discipleship happens sitting in seats”

He was referring to Sunday morning primarily. And while as a pastor, clearly Sunday mornings are a large part of my job, I wholeheartedly agree with him. Because here is his point: following Jesus requires movement, practice, and action.

Often on Sunday mornings we learn about Jesus, but discipleship happens when we follow Jesus. Discipleship happens when we get out of our seats and let Jesus start to transform the totality of our lives. And yes, to follow Jesus means you need to learn about Jesus, but it is possible to learn lots about Jesus and not follow him. Caesar’s point is that discipleship breaks down when the learning gets separated from the following.

This doesn’t mean that Sunday morning services don’t matter. They do, and I put a lot of prayer and effort into mine. But what I know is that Sunday mornings aren’t the endpoint of discipleship, but the starting point – the sending point. We gather together to get reminded of what following Jesus looks like, and get sent out to live that in a new way that week.

So Caesar is right, discipleship doesn’t just happen in seats, which is why each week we gather as the church, to be sent out as the church into our communities.

And this is just a reminder that discipleship is a process, a journey, a sending, but most of all a following. So as you live, work, and play this week – remember who you are following and how you are learning to live like him.

Learning to Forgive – Learning to Send Away

On Sunday we talked about forgiveness. We discussed that the literal meaning of “to forgive” in Greek means to send something away; it means giving up and giving over. So when we forgive we are giving up and giving over our hurts, anger, desires for justice, and all that happened to God. We are literally sending to him everything and trusting that he can hold onto our hurts and deal with them. That’s what forgiveness is.

Forgiveness frees us from holding onto the burden of hurt. Forgiveness frees us from replaying that event or conversation over and over again in our minds. Forgiveness frees not only the other person but also ourselves because we no longer are holding onto the hurt – God is.

Forgiveness is not simply forgetting. It’s not saying “no big deal” when what happened was a big deal. It’s not pretending that a wrong didn’t happen. Forgiveness is sending away the wrong to God, so that you can be made whole. That’s what forgiveness is all about. And we can make a choice to forgive.

We ended with inviting people to make that choice. And yes forgiving is a hard choice. But it is the only choice that leads to healing, because forgiving leads to God.

So to make that choice we invited people to write down their hurts, betrayals, and unforgiveness and to “send it to God”. To do this we invited people to symbolically burn the paper, shred it, or toss it out. The point was to do something physical and tangible that would be a reminder that we have forgiven that person, and “sent it” to God. The point was to do something physical that echoed what we were doing emotionally and spiritually. We were sending away our hurts; we were forgiving others.

So that’s what we touched on yesterday. After church I watched a video sent to me by a member from the church. It’s on forgiveness and I think it illustrates well what we’re talking about. The last line of the video is a great reminder for us today, “If God doesn’t come in forgiveness cannot come”. So why not watch it and today seek to practice forgiveness and sent to God anything that you’re holding onto…

Go and Make Disciples…being #missional

This past Sunday I left the challenge to go and make disciples, as a way of life. You can hear the sermon here.

In Matthew 28:18-20, Jesus gathers his disciples together for one last time. What he doesn’t leave them with is a reminder to pray. He doesn’t remind them to be holy. He doesn’t really remind them about what he’s taught them. Instead what he leaves with them is an invitation. An invitation to adventure, mission, and to go out into the world and make disciples. And he leaves behind one promise: “I will be with you”. He doesn’t tell the disciples how to make more disciples. He doesn’t leave behind a 7-step process. What he gives to them is an invitation and a promise.

And isn’t that all we need? An invitation to partner with God in his mission, and promise that he will partner with us. We’re given an invitation and promise that Jesus will be with guiding us, shaping us, and leading us as we follow God on mission.

The question is: are you going to accept his invitation and promise?

For me and my family we’ve made the deiscion to accept both the promise and invitaiton this year to make disicples. We are going to make 2012 a year of making disciples, living out Jesus command and believing in his promise. What about you?

I’m excited to see how this year unfolds and what God does. So this year I’ll be sharing stories of how it’s going for me. And I’d love to hear yours as well!

Discussion Questions: Here are the discussion questions that came from Sunday in case you missed them:

  • Adult Questions
  • Are you ready and willing to follow Jesus in making disciples?
  • How might you start to make disciples?
  • What excites you about making disciples? What maybe makes you a bit nervous about making disciples?
  • Who might help you stay accountable in your decision?
  • Questions for Young Families
  • Talk with your kids and share about how God invites us to join him in helping people find and follow God. Ask them if they are willing to help people find and follow God. Ask them what friends you, as a family, can pray that they might become a disciple of Jesus? Spend some time praying as a family.