PASTORS - PRESIDENTS - PLANTERS - THEY ALL CONNECT
Last week was a pretty wild week – it was a whirlwind. I was in several cities either meeting or speaking to different audiences. One moment I would be with evangelical pastors, the next other religious leaders or political leaders – many many conversations but one message – how Jesus makes all things different – us included. To some, it may look disjointed – how can you be in one setting one minute and another the next – but to me it’s normal and it’s how the Kingdom of God operates.
In New York, I met with a few world leaders of various nations – and the questions for me were always the same. You are an evangelical? I thought evangelicals wanted nothing to do with us? Would you be willing to let your church members work in our country like you do Vietnam? Are there more like you? Would you come and see me? I prefer meeting a few people at once so you can go deep and close with those relationships – but you have to be ready. PASTOR – ARE YOU READY? WOULD YOU LIKE TO RELEASE YOUR PEOPLE AND LET THEM SERVE IN THE NAME OF JESUS USING THEIR JOB BUT NOT DOING TRADITIONAL PREACHING OR MISSION WORK? The world is open I think far more than we are open to engaging it. People long to do more in their faith than just “go to church” or a “gathering” – they want to make a radical difference.
I met with planters in Chicago. I’m so proud of Scott Venable and his church. He’s barely two years old and has a little over a hundred in his 2 meetings but was training 6 young people to be planters that were interning at his church. He’s not the only one – there are several like that. I was with another church Northwood helped plant – not a year old, and they’re about to plant their first church. These churches are serve the city, and serve the world. They don’t live by the adage, first grow yourself. For them, growing yourself is multiplying churches in their cities. They have a different kingdom metric. These guys are not merely starting worship services or gatherings in houses or third spaces – they may all meet in places like that – but it’s far beyond that – it’s engaging their city and the world in a very sacrificial and intentional way. Some are large and some are small – it doesn’t matter every one gets a place at the table if they’re only willing.
Nearly every place I spoke, in every context – pastors were telling me how they are starting to connect with people of other faiths and telling me their own stories of working with Muslims, Jews, Bhudist, etc., This is good. There’s a lot of fear some of them have from their own tribe coming after them – but it will pass in time. They are on the right side of history – and ten years from now, people will be embarrassed, if not spiritually convicted how they treated people of other faiths – the same some white Chrisitians had to later repent of racism and bigotry. You can’t spread the gospel if you hate the people Jesus died for.
For me, topping it off is an African American church plant I was preaching at Sunday – I don’t know how many they had – it looked like close to a thousand to me, barely a year old. They’re already helped start churches. The pastor had me come and commission his first team that is going to a hard place in the world for their people to use their jobs. The pastors wife, a super classy lady, shared how she had some fear but she knew she was in the center of God’s will by going. I’d already taken the pastor to this place in the world, and now he was taking his first team. We prayed for them, and dozens more committed to going in the next 18 months. I had people stand up by professions: medical, educational, governmental, artist, businessmen, etc . . . and challenged them to get together and come up with ways to serve this city long term God has called them to. They are there, because of some gatekeepers and top leaders I know in the place they are – not because of a church or missions agency – but because of people to people relationships. I wish we could see the world as Jesus sees it and engage it – not cloister with our own. The real opportunity is outside our tribe, not inside it.
In a few hours I speak at Texas Instruments, it will be live all over the world to all their locations. I was invited by a Mormon to address people of all religions on how to engage with one another. I’m excited about it. Tomorrow, I meet with pastors meeting Muslim imams and a businessman for the first time. Next week – I’ll be in a part of the world that is in turmoil – right now my wife is in a “sensitive” place with my daughter. I can’t stop them, something about living this way its like a virus. Once our Northwood plants began to engage they can’t be stopped either. There is something about following Jesus – it really doesn’t separate you from others – it puts you face to face with others – unless you accepted a “tribe” and not a “savior.”
It’s all connected – Jesus connected it all – they all matter to him – it’s time to color outside the lines. We’ve tinkered on how to do church – now it’s time to get serious and down to business – how do we do the world?
Bob is the founder, senior leader, and chief spokesman for Glocal.net . His primary focus is to connect leaders and estabish relationships to explore transformation. Follow Bob on Twitter at @bobrobertsjr.