Today’s post is inspired by a recent piece written by my buddy, Josh Hayden. I highly recommend that you add Josh to your regular reading as well. He and I share a love of hip-hop music and this affinity is actually what brought us together as a mutual friend recognized the shared interest and suggested we connect.
Josh uses a story about mowing the lawn while listening to The Roots as a reminder that we must continually and actively remember the essence of our mission if we are to be effective. If not, we can do a lot of good stuff without any tangible results.
We often trend this direction in the local church. We spend so much well-meaning, good-intentioned, positive energy on lots of stuff with very little thought toward two strategic questions:
- What’s our mission?
- How will this action or decision work to fulfill it?
In the church I served prior to coming to Matthews, my fondest memory is of developing a team to go into a nearby prison on a weekly basis and facilitate a Bible study. We had a large group of white, mostly middle class, men and women who would give their time developing relationships with a group of incarcerate, mostly black and latino, young men. It was incredible to see how God worked in the hearts and lives of everyone involved.
Of all the stuff that we tend to organize around in the local church, there is no doubt that this is an example of what I call “the real gospel stuff.” Jesus told the crowd he was teaching that when you visit the prisoner, you have served Jesus himself. If our mission is to serve Jesus, here it is in plain text. Want to serve God? Visit the prisoner. Can it be any simpler? Even the author of the book of Hebrews writes, “Remember those who are in prison, as though in prison with them, and those who are mistreated, since you also are in the body.”
To avoid you interpreting this as a “real Christians visit the prisoner” post, let me be clear that this is just one example. There are lots. The point is, choose one. Choose at least one act of compassion and service that would qualify as the real gospel stuff.
Here at 801South, we have an expectation for all our small group leaders. Every leader is expected to organize opportunities for the small group to serve together on a regular basis. Recently, one of our women’s small groups, took a trip to Louis Lodge and began to develop relationships with pregnant, unwed teenagers. They prayed with them, provided gifts, and shed tears over the fact that some of these soon-to-be-mothers have no place to go after their baby is born. That’s real gospel stuff right there. That will change your heart and life.
We do lots of good, cool stuff as the local church today. My hope is that whatever we decide to do, we continue to ask the two primary questions stated above.
I have a feeling the answers will always lead us to some real gospel stuff.
How do you and your church community get into the real gospel stuff?