30
April
2016

MOBILITY of Christian Faith

Posted in : about life/the Christian faith

Among the many choices that the American Evangelical Christian Church is going to have to make in the coming seasons in how we are going to handle/respond to cultural shifts that are, even now, thrusting themselves upon us 1, an important one standing out is the realization that as church-members, sometimes going OUT into the world and OUTSIDE of the walls of our church to lead people to the Truth and to the Love of Christ is just as valid as “inviting people to come to church”. I call it the MOBILITY of our Christian faith.

It’s sort of like how we use the Internet nowadays, contrasted with how we all used the Internet in previous times. Back when, whenever you wanted to use the Internet, you had to sit at a workstation like a Desktop-computer or a Laptop-computer, and then you could run browsers and programs to visit websites. Nowadays, to use the Internet, we have mobile devices that we carry around with us to access the Internet via browsers and apps. And what we are seeing more and more is that it’s becoming more and more of a thing that we use this mobile method to access the Internet. It’s just growing. Now, we realize that and we accept that. But at the same time, it doesn’t mean that we just throw out or abandon the previous way of accessing the Internet—we don’t abandon the regular desktop-computers and workstations. They’re still just as important and valid, too, even with the advent of the mobile way of accessing the Internet.

It’s the same thing with our churches and being Christians in these times. There are certain assumptions by which all of us operate. We carry them with us in how we think, how we live our lives, and how we run our organizations. Therefore, one could say that our organizations operate by certain assumptions.

One of the assumptions always has been, “Hey, bring your friends and your family and your work associates and people with whom you encounter up here to church on Sunday mornings, and we’ll plug them in, lead them to Christ, and they’ll be saved.

This is not a bad thing. Of course it’s a good thing. And it should continue to be done. And the church is a beautiful, unique institution into which we should all plug, as Christians.

But it seems like some churches nowadays largely forget or do not give enough attention to the MOBILITY—taking the Truths and the Love of Christ out into the world in whatever spheres we live our lives on a daily basis.

As a kid, I was privileged enough to attend a church that had one particular staff-member who recognized the importance of taking the Truths and the Love of Christ outside of our church walls on Sunday mornings and Wednesday nights outward into the world for the other five days of the week. By taking one seemingly small action, this staff member drove this into our minds and our spirits as church members—and they did it in love:

In the parking lot outside of our church, whenever we would get into our vehicles and leave, this staff-member posted signs that all of us could not avoid seeing, every time we drove out of the parking lot. The signs read,

You are now entering your mission-field.

Every time we “left church”, that’s what we observed—“You are now entering your mission-field.

Not only must we remember that there are “Missionaries” who have taken it upon themselves to uproot from the United States and travel to other nations in order to spread the Truths and Love of Jesus Christ, we must not forget that every last one of us are missionaries, in living our quote unquote “normal lives”, day-to-day. It makes no difference whether you’re an uprooted United States Christian citizen who has taken it upon themselves to move to Uganda or Southeast Asia or wherever, and live a new life among the natives, spreading the Truth and Love of Christ; or whether we stay in the United States and are just a quote unquote “normal family”, working a 9-to-5 job, balancing the demands of fast-paced American life, and attending a local regular American Evangelical New Testament Church.

EITHER WAY, if we call ourselves followers of Christ by confessing with our mouths and believing in our hearts that Christ is Lord; we believe that the Person of God came to this earth in flesh in the Person of His Son Jesus Christ and was killed on a literal cross to serve as the propitiation and payment for the sins of mankind; then believe that this same Jesus Christ was resurrected from the dead; and we have approached Him with an honest and pure-intentioned heart, and repented of our sins and asked Him to forgive us and live in our hearts and make us a disciple of Christ to become ever-fashioned to becoming like Christ, then we are all Christians and we are all missionaries 2.

With that in mind, this next thing is important to keep in mind, because, whether you think it’s stupid or not, and whether you even think it’s valid or not, there are people out there―people with whom you come into contact every day, normal run-of-the-mill Americans like yourself―who have maintained within themselves that they will *NEVER* step foot into a church.

Guess what? People don’t want to come to our churches because

– they think they know everything that a church or a pastor is going to tell them before the church or pastor says it,

– they believe they will not be welcomed,

– they believe, “I don’t need church people”,

– they hate the hypocrisy (some is perceived hypocrisy and some is real hypocrisy)―

– or some combination of these factors or other related factors.

Some of their criticisms on how American Evangelical Christians have behaved in coming off as “superior and self-righteous” are our fault as American Evangelical Christians―and that is wrong of us. Some of their criticisms are not our fault, and are not fair or accurate. There is no denying that as Evangelical Christians, yes, we do recognize certain absolute truths, and we will hold to them―as we should! We are right to do that! The world is too filled with wishy-washyness; and this lack of absolutes and a lack of limits kills us. So we MUST hold to certain Absolute Truths.

But within that, even though that’s true, we’ve got to realize that, as I said before, wrong-or-right, whether you think it’s stupid or not, whether you think it’s unfounded or not, there are people that will not step foot into an Evangelical Christian Church. And gee, the temptation may be to just say,

Well gee, they had their chance to choose Christ, God doesn’t let anyone die without having a chance to accept the Truths of Christ in some way3 and just “shake the dust off our feet4 and shrug our shoulders and say, “Oh well” and throw up our hands and not care.

To that, I call into question that person’s faith in Christ. You should be so in love with Christ and convinced of His Truths that it pains your heart and breaks it for the people with whom you encounter, in your life, on a daily-basis—be it someone you only come across once, or whether it be a work-associate or colleague that you regularly encounter. The fact that you know that they are without Christ—that should bother you. And I’m suggesting a gut-check and spirit-check if it does not.

The reason I can so boldly—and some may say self-righteously—declare that one should perform a gut-check or spirit-check if they do not care about a lost person’s coming to the Love and the Truths of Christ is that I know how I feel:

Whenever I encounter people in my personal and professional life—I mean, WHEREVER—who I know are without Christ (again, be they a one-time encounter, or associates/colleagues/co-workers who I regularly encounter), my heart breaks for those who I know are living a dry life without the life-giving springs of the Truths and the Love of Christ.

It is not a shallow,

Hey, I am bothered because another person does not believe like I believe”.

It is more than that. I can deal with people who do not believe in something I believe, someone who can contest my own beliefs with valid points, or are convinced of evidence in something that is the opposite of what I believe. I’m emotionally-solid and intellectually-honest enough to handle that.

It stays with me and it saddens me—for other peoples’ own sake—when they are not living a life empowered by the Love and True Life offered by God in the Name of Jesus Christ by the power of the Holy Spirit.

So here’s the smallest violin in the world, *starts playing with his fingers, imaginarily*

Sad-story, Travis, this is all very fascinating, but what’s the point?

My point is, let us recognize that our mission-field truly is everywhere—not only just around-the-world at quote unquote, third-world nations, or, nations with small Christian populations (Please, reader, do not be ignorant enough to somehow think I’m downplaying missionaries who pull up stake and move to such other nations for the cause of furthering the Truths and Love of Christ). Let us remember that our mission-field truly is everywhere, including here in our 9-to-5-jobs and fast-paced American lives, day-in-and-day-out.

And then to further drill down, let us realize that it is important to not only have church on Sunday mornings, Wednesday nights, and with whatever other programs throughout the week that take place on-site at a church campus; but let us realize the importance of the MOBILITY of church—that we are to take church WITH US, outside of those campus-walls, outside of our church parking lots, into that place where the signs encouraged us, “You are now entering your mission-field.

To give one example, I do part-time work as a Bartender. Now, certain denominations of the Christian faith have decided that if you’re within arms’ reach of an alcoholic beverage, well, then, you’ve got your one-way ticket-to-hell (I’m exaggerating, here, but you get the point). But as someone who believes in the MOBILITY of the Church and taking Christ with me wherever I go 5 , I actually have opportunities to share Christ, sometimes, with my co-workers and with my customers; and the point is, many of these people would never otherwise set foot in a church. How am I so bold in assuming they’ll never set foot in a church? Well, sometimes, THEY TELL ME THAT!

Yes, fellow-Christians, I am sorry to tell you something that may make you sad to hear; but yes, you have fellow-Americans out there who maintain, “I will never set foot inside a church.

But guess what? Sometimes whenever I am able to talk about my faith in Christ, oftentimes I share an aspect of Christian faith, or a principle, that the person did not know. Sometimes they may know some things about knowing Christ or about being a Christian, but they may not know other things, and I am able to fill in the holes; like the guy in the New Testament who asked a question and had it explained to him 6 . You see, I never know how a principle I share with a co-worker or a customer may blossom and be watered by the Spirit of God; and, ultimately, spark such that, after some other circumstances or things happen in their life, it grows into that person’s accepting Christ one day; which could then lead to their sharing it within their entire life, in their mission-field—whatever mission-field that may be.

So continue to invite your friends, your family, your co-workers/acquaintances/colleagues, and sometimes even random strangers with whom you’ve had discussion to church. Bring them to church. Do it. But don’t forget that it’s just as valid—and perhaps in our times even more important—to have that MOBILITY with your Christian faith, too. Recognize it. Realize it. Do it. Are you taking the Truths and the Love of Christ with you, wherever you go, outside of your church walls? Whether you pull-up-stake and go to Uganda, Southeast Asia, or wherever else; or you faithfully work at your 9-to-5-job and just do your best to raise your family day-in-and-day-out, always remember that

YOU ARE NOW ENTERING YOUR MISSION-FIELD.

Travis J, MBA
Travis J Consulting, LLC
www.ktravisj.com
#travisjconsulting

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1 Side-note―I tend to think smaller churches are better, I really don’t get off on these super-churches or any single organization getting too big for its britches. When stuff gets too big, it gets out of hand. You can have all of the rules, laws, committees, people-of-character holding the reigns all you want. But the fact is, in whatever realm about which we’re speaking, when an entity gets too big, it becomes out-of-hand. It’s true, even for the Evangelical Christian Church, even though it may, on paper, be about John 14.6, which states, “Jesus said to him, ‘I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me.’” But locally-governed, small, American Evangelical New Testament churches should remain sovereign, and they (we) are going to have to make up its mind/our minds on cultural questions that are coming up, within our society. I’m talking about things that previous generations of American Evangelical Christians blink their eyes, rub their eyes, and express that, “I can’t believe I’d ever see the day where we’d actually have to discuss whether or not _____fill-in-the-blank______ is all right or not.”

Before I enrage any fellow brothers and sisters in Christ, please keep in mind that following Paul’s exhorting us in the New Testament in Romans, Thessalonians, and other spots; my words are meant always to *edify* the Body of Christ, including the words of this very piece of writing—both this primary blog post and these footnotes. That is, I’m hoping you see, my point is not to advocate for our, as Evangelical Christians, somehow trying to bend to fit “cultural changes” or “progressivism”―heaven forbid. The truth remains that Christ and God and His Ways exist in a way that is counter-culture to the ways of this world, and yes, as Christians, we have certain values and principles that are self-evident and that are absolute and unchanging.

But my point remains—as it always has been in my pieces of writing—let us not shrink from taking a position on things one way or another. Let us have discussion, let us have discourse. Let us have clarity. We cannot leave things, as the Toby Mac song says, “purposefully vague“. Let us address things, take ownership of our positions, and DO.

2 Romans 10.9; Romans 3.23; Romans 6.23; Matthew 28.19-20a

3 Romans 1.19-20, 2 Peter 3.9b

4 Matthew 10.14

5 Make Christ in everything on our list-of-things in our lives, not just “number one on our list of important things in life”; Colossians 1.16-17 doesn’t directly say this, but the principle expressed in Colossians 1.16-17 encourages me to live my life in this way.

6 Acts 8.30-31

 


Roger Russell

May 1, 2016 @ 6:52 am

Excellent post, Travis. My conviction is we are evangelists for whatever we are passionate about wherever we are.

If I’m passionate about the Dallas Cowboys, I learn all I can about them, I adjust my schedule to watch there games on TV, I shell out big bucks to attend their games when I can, and I promote them through my display of the Cowboy branded products I use. However, most importantly, I am informed and I speak passionately about them, their prospects, their strategies, and their competition ALL of the time.

I don’t do this to show others I am a Cowboys fan or to earn the right to be one. I do it because for some reason I LOVE the Cowboys.

If I am a passionate lover of Christ then I believe he will naturally become a part of many of my conversations and his love for others through me will be a part the motivation for many of my actions (“Neat or on the rocks, sir?”)

Most die-hard sports fans don’t assume their primary means of showing support for their team is to invite people to go to their stadiums on game-day, or even to invite them to a game-party to watch the broadcast together. No, their conversation is continually seeded with sport references, analogies, and natural segues to their favorite subject which is never far from their minds.

The same is true for true Christ fans. Travis, I appreciate your “heart check and gut check” challnege. One of the questions I use for this is “From my daily conversations and actions, what does it look like my passions are?” If the response to that indicates ANYTHING or ANYONE supplanting Christ for indisputable primacy then that must be addressed.

Great post!


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I'm very big into education, and my energies are devoted to inspiring this desire for education into other people--at home and abroad.

Travis J's web-design company: Travis J Consulting http://www.ktravisj.com