Gospel Neighboring

The red dots on this map indicate where some of our Fellowship Memphis members live.  Can you imagine the impact if each of those dots understood themselves to be a minister of the gospel or saw themselves as the chaplain of their street?

 

What would the impact be if each dot walked and prayed for their street, welcomed all new neighbors into the neighborhood, and threw the best parties on their street? 

A few years ago, I was casting this vision and a guy in the IT department at Fed Ex took me up on it.  July the 4th was coming up the next Saturday and his family decided to throw a neighborhood party the Friday night before July the 4th. 

He borrowed our church video projector walked the neighborhood that week with his family passing out flyers and inviting people to their July the 3rd party!  That night they brought their grill from the back yard to the front yard, threw a sheet on his garage, turned on an awesome Pixar movie and began grilling food and hanging out.  Almost 100 people showed up!  They spontaneously planned a July 4th parade for the next day!  The ministry opportunities and relationships that birthed out of that one night continue to this day. 

What would happen if each of us opened our hearts, our eyes, our homes and our dinner tables and trusted God to do something? 

“And He gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the shepherds, and teachers, to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ…”

Ephesians 4:11-12

Ephesians 4 helps us with the purpose of Leadership in the Church. God gives the church leaders to equip the body to be ministers, to each other and their city.

Paid or unpaid, one pastor or many…the role of paid staff is clear…to equip others for ministry…it’s super important we see this…not just do ministry.  As God awakens your heart and you start having new desires to study your Bible, share your faith and help others grow spiritually and seek peace in our city and help the marginalized and oppressed, that’s good gospel growth in you but not necessarily indications you need to pursue vocational ministry. 

That growing ministry oriented-ness the Bible calls maturity.  Some of you carry a guilt you are not in vocational ministry you don’t need to be carrying.  We need ministers in every stream of our city. 

That word “equip” in Eph 4:12 has a couple of meanings and both are critical to the function of the church…One is to prepare a ship for battle.

Church at it’s best becomes not just a family, but a family on mission.

For many of us who grew up in the Bible Belt, religious infected, church haunted South…if you went to church on Sunday morning you loved the church, if you went Sunday morning and came back Sunday night, you loved the pastor…if you went Sunday morning, Sunday night and Wednesday night, YOU LOVED GOD…you were cajoled into believing your highest spiritual purpose was to show up and give and Attendance = Godliness. 

It’s an un-Biblical doctrine of the church that operates under the premise that the mass majority showed up to receive ministry from a few hired professional that deliver ministry….rather than the Biblical idea that all of us are called to live out the gospel as ambassadors of Christ, regardless of who pays our paycheck or what role we have in life.

We do gather, and it’s important to do so…but Sunday morning is not the play.  It’s the huddle.  We break from here to all go run the play in our families, neighborhoods, places of work, schools and in our city.  Living and serving intentionally to make much of Jesus and seek the shalom (which is the peace and welfare) of our City.  All of laboring for human flourishing.

I Peter 2:9

“But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for His own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light.”

This text is a game changer…the gospel gives us a new priesthood…it’s referred to as the priesthood of all believers.  It’s the idea that every Christ follower is entrusted with ministry…that is unique to the church age. 

We are all minister of the gospel and the purpose of church leadership is to equip the ministers to minister…to love and serve those they influence.

The Priesthood of all Believers obliterates the idea that many of us are prone to believe.  It’s like it’s our default.  the idea that ministers are those with a special calling and special gifting and special relationships with God…that’s simply not true.  The New Testament makes no divide between Maturing Christ Follower and Minister. 

The opportunities, burdens and privileges of ministry lay on all our shoulders.

Every single follower of Jesus Christ is called to mediate the gospel, to live for God’s glory and fame among the nations, to steward everything in their lives toward the purposes of Christ….to “do business” is how Luke 19 puts it, do Jesus/ business with our lives, until He returns or we are called home. 

To evangelize, to disciple, to pursue justice, to care for the marginalized, to seek the peace of the City, to initiate for the benefit of others. That’s not the job of the select few who received some special calling to do vocational ministry…there’s one calling to ministry and it’s given to every single Christ Follower.