This year, the Pacific Conference is emphasizing the theme “Beyond Ourselves.” We cannot be a healthy local church without an outward focus. It is so easy to focus on our own needs and forget about our community. In fact, the gap between the church and the culture is so great, that many have given up on relating to a world far from God. But that must change. We are called to reach out!
The buzz word for this has been the word missional. I know there has been some misunderstanding and even misdirection over that word, but it’s what Jesus called us to. It is called the “Great Commission.” It is recorded in Matthew 28: 18-20:
“Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”
So what does it mean to live beyond ourselves? What does that look like for the local church?
Here are some quotes form Dan Kimball’s book, They Like Jesus, but Not the Church. I’ve taken the liberty to substitute the phrase “To live beyond ourselves” (in italics) for the word “missional.” His description is an excellent summary of what it means to be a church on mission:
- To live beyond ourselves means that the church sees itself as being missionaries, rather than having a missions department, and that we see ourselves as missionaries right where we live.”
- To live beyond ourselves means that we see ourselves as representatives of Jesus ‘sent’ into our communities, and that the church aligns everything it does with the missio dei (mission of God).”
- To live beyond ourselves means we see the church not as a place we go only on Sunday, but as something we are throughout the week.”
- To live beyond ourselves means that we understand we don’t ‘bring Jesus’ to people but that we realize Jesus is active in culture and we join him in what he is doing.”
- To live beyond ourselves means we are very much in the world and engaged in culture but are not conforming to the world.”
- To live beyond ourselves means we serve our communities, and that we build relationships with the people in them, rather than seeing them as evangelistic targets.”
- To live beyond ourselves means being all the more dependent on Jesus and the Spirit through prayer, the Scriptures and each other in community.”
BEFORE YOU GO…
Here are some questions to ponder: How are you living beyond yourself? How can every local church live beyond itself? What could be accomplished for the kingdom? What needs could be met, what connections built, what lives changed?