The Phil Files

Musings & messages on everyday worship, Jesus, and the stuff of life.

Incarnational

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For God so loved the world, He did not send a committee!

I remember when I first read this bumper sticker 14-15 years ago in church parking lot. I laughed out loud even by myself. Being involved in church ministry for well over 30 years, I know our tendency to make everything into a program and then create a committee to carry out that program. In the years since, I’ve seen and hear this bumper sticker modified in different ways. For God so loved the world, He didn’t send …

  • a program.
  • a clergyman.
  • an initiative.
  • a politician.
  • a parachurch ministry.
  • a radio program.
  • a book.
  • a philosopher (or philosophy).
  • etc.

Now don’t misunderstand: there is nothing inherently wrong with any of the above. But God didn’t send one of those, He sent Jesus, His Son.

And just as God sent Jesus into the world, Jesus has sent us! (Matthew 28:18-20; John 17:18; 20:21) We are the ones called to carry out Jesus’ ministry in the world. No wonder that one of the key images of Jesus’ church is “the Body of Christ.” We are His presence in the world. And since we are sent into the world as Jesus was, that changes everything … especially our sense of strategy, purpose, mission, and evangelism.

In my Heartlight.org article this week, also called Incarnational, I try to distinguish between the difference of looking at the Great Commission of Jesus as an evangelism passage or a call to incarnational ministry. I tried to define incarnational ministry and proclaiming, training, and living the Good News of the Kingdom with people. In our church, we try to define our mission in similar terms. We want to be God’s community front porch — a place where folks can meet  God and His family. But for that to happen, we know we have to invite them into the life of Jesus (proclaim), include them in the family of Jesus (live), and involve them in the mission of Jesus (train).

Incarantaional ministry means that we have to enter the worlds of those who do not know Jesus, walk alongside them, and accompany them through the transformation the Holy Spirit carries out in their lives when they yield to the Lordship of Jesus. If we don’t, we’ve just spoken a message — we’ve only given them a drive by sound-byte of the Kingdom of God. God didn’t do that. His message, His Word, was enfleshed in Jesus (John 1:1-18). How can we do anything less?

Cody is  friend on our Refresh planning team who recently moved out of town. As I was thinking through these ideas of incarnational ministry, like a gift from heaven, Cody’s email arrived where he pointed us to the following video trying to capture the essential difference of God’s offer of salvation in Jesus versus other religious answers. It is a fundamental difference. God didn’t send a message or even just a messenger. God came and entered our mess Himself, vulnerable to our stuff, to include us.

Here are some discussion questions for home gatherings or small groups. I’d love to get your take on some or all of them and the whole concept of incarnational ministry.

What is difference between evangelism and incarnational ministry?

How can such an approach make your life more purposeful?

Do you think a good definition of incarnational ministry is “people who proclaim, train, and live the Good News of Jesus alongside those they want to reach”?

Which of the three is most important — proclaim, train, or live the Good News?

Can we fulfill the Great Commission of Jesus and leave out any of these three elements?

What do you need to do to incorporate an incarnational approach of Good News Kingdom living into your daily life?

How can such an approach make your life more purposeful?

Where can you incorporate this incarnational approach to Good News Kingdom living into your daily life?

How does it work in your family? (Deuteronomy 6:1-9)
How does it work in your workplace or school? (1 Peter 3:15)
How does it work in your public life? (Matthew 5:13-16)

Who is someone with whom you can partner in an accountability commitment to fulfill the Great Commission in your world?

Written by phil

August 5th, 2009 at 10:00 pm

Posted in Over My Shoulder

One Response to 'Incarnational'

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  1. Whatever approach we use in sharing God’s word, it should star within ourselves. Our testimonies should speak for us. Then we can also start by sharing His word to our closest friends and give them inspirational gifts. There are plenty of options to choose from:
    http://greatisthelord.net/
    Inspirational Gifts

    elai

    12 Aug 09 at 2:12 am

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