“Christian” isn’t just a role we play

Mom and daughter in Fall

This past Sunday as we’ve continued through the Gospel of Mark, a story about Jesus and His family caused us to look at our own identity and the roles we fill.

As Ben Connelly discusses in a recent article, there is a big difference between the roles we play (spouse, parent, job title, Islander, Canadian, etc.) and the identity we have in Christ. This identity flows out into a life that gives witness to Jesus in everyday ways:

“Christian” isn’t just a role we play. It’s deeper than that. Our very identity is in Christ. Because of God’s work in us, we are each sons and daughters of God. We are followers of Jesus. To take it a step further, that’s a more important identity than “spouse,” “parent,” nationality or culture, or any way we define identity.

Our identity leads us to demonstrate the gospel. This isn’t just true for the tiny percentage of Christians who actively choose to call themselves “missionaries,” who get on a plane for the more traditional picture of “mission.” It’s true for everyone redeemed by God.

If you call yourself a follower of Jesus, God calls you his missionary. You may never go halfway around the world. You may not raise financial support. But because of God’s gospel work in you, you are on mission: to people in your work, school, neighborhood, and those in need. As everyday missionaries, God has sent us to live out his Great Commission in the ordinary, normal, all-too-busy, and even most mundane moments of our lives.

Want to be “Missional”?

The Youth & Family Department of our own Convention of Atlantic Baptist Churches has just started a blog, focused on reaching our neighbourhoods with God’s good news. Here’s an excerpt from a recent article:

Want to be missional? First – I know it’s quite the buzz word, by it I simply mean living with a bent towards always being on mission for God, aiming to always overflow with God’s good news in word and deed. Living with this bent towards joining God in what He is doing in your neighbourhood, what he is doing right around you where you live, work, play, church, go to school, go to the grocery store…

So want to be missional? Spot the needs around you.

You, your family, your group, your church cannot meet all the needs. But which needs, which stories are you hearing most often? Which are sticking with your heart and mind? How can you start showing and telling God’s good news to those with similar stories and needs? And it’s always ok to start with just one in God’s mustard seed Kingdom.

So… what needs do you see? Where can you join God in His work?

Evangelism FOR Discipleship

I often get the sense from people that they feel unprepared to share their faith with other people. It’s almost as if evangelism (sharing the Good News) is seen as an activity for elite “Navy Seal level” Christians.

This sense of inadequacy is false for many reasons (the equipping and adequacy of the Holy Spirit being a big one) but in the following tweet Jeff Vanderstelt says it short and sweet:

If we could start to see evangelism as part of our own discipleship and our own growth, we’d be much further ahead. You don’t need to have everything figured out, you simply need to be obedient to Christ and allow the Holy Spirit to guide you. As you share your faith, you will grow. You’ll learn how to articulate the Gospel more cleary, but you’ll also understand it – and live it – more fully as well.

“Evangelism FOR Discipleship” is true in another sense as well: applying the Good News to our lives is the ongoing work that helps us to grow. We never grow beyond our need for the Good News of the Gospel, it simply needs to be worked into every aspect of our heart and being. As Jeff Vanderstelt says, “Keep proclaiming Jesus for all of life!” Actively sharing our faith with other people keeps it fresh and allows us to be aware of our own need for the Good News in new ways.

Have you felt stalled in your spiritual growth? Do you want to grow in your relationship with Christ beyond where you are today? Begin to lovingly share your faith with those around you.

Connecting with New People

In our everyday lives, some of us naturally connect with new people on a daily basis. Random moments lead to interactions, conversations, even friendships. Others of us find it much more difficult to connect with new people, perhaps even feeling anxious at the very thought of it. These differences can be based on personality preferences, the types of work or activities we do, or any number of other reasons – none of which are necessarily good or bad.

I came across a post by Phillip Howell called Connecting with a People Group, it was based on a workshop he lead about working cross-culturally. What he shared is helpful in regards to connecting with new people in general, whether you are interested in cultural connections or not.

Here are Phillip’s practical tips to be intentional about building new relationships and sharing the life and love of Jesus Christ along the way. This is Green Tables stuff!

1. Be a regular by going to the same place for gas, groceries, coffee, haircuts, and eating out. Try to get to know the staff on a personal level.

2. Explore different parts of the community, city, or county. Find things to do in places you have not yet explored. Shop in a different part of town or try a new coffee house. Go to local restaurants that capture the local culture.

3. Pray each day for a people group. The more you pray for people groups, the more you will love them, the people and their culture. God supernaturally does a work in you heart!

4. Sports! Become a fan of the sports that the people group likes and go to all their games. Or, get involved with their sports club and join or coach a team.

5. Embrace their history. Learn the historical narrative in order to better understand them and what they have experienced.

6. Be a part of the people groups community. Live where they live. Go to their local festivals, concerts, or fundraisers. Participate missionally. Strike up conversations. Pray for the people you encounter.

7. Engage in a hobby or activity they have. Tai Chi, Cooking, Walking, Drinking Bubble Tea, etc…

8. Make them a relationship not a project or a program. People come to Christ through relationships more than they do events.

9. Learn and listen. As you live with them learn and listen to them.

Friday Night Meatballs

A couple different people pointed me to an article this week, and I wanted to share it with you.

The article isn’t written from a Christian perspective, but it speaks to the desire for community and taking intentional steps to make it possible in a busy world. Best of all it’s a really simple idea and the article gives some very practical tips. You can read the whole thing here.

“Friday Night Meatballs” started out when Joe and Sarah sent out a simple invitation:

So here’s what Joe and I have decided to do, in my 33rd year, to make our lives happier: we are instituting a new tradition we call Friday Night Meatballs. Starting next Friday, we’re cooking up a pot of spaghetti and meatballs every Friday night and sitting down at the dining room table as a family—along with anyone else who’d like to join us. Friends, neighbors, relatives, clients, Facebook friends who’d like to hang out in real life, travelers passing through: you are welcome at our table. We’ll just ask folks to let us know by Thursday night so we know how many meatballs to make. You can bring something, but you don’t have to. Kids, vegetarians, gluten-free types, etc. will all be taken care of. The house will be messy. There might be card and/or board games. There might be good Scotch. You might be asked to read picture books. You might make new friends. We’ll just have to find out. This is our little attempt to spend more time with our village. You’re invited.

This is Green Tables kind of stuff! When Christ is in the midst of this, what an opportunity to share His life and love in a very natural way.

Would something like this work for you and your family? Who do you know who would love to be invited to this?

The Invitational Life

With many activities, events, and opportunities this Fall it’s important to be mindful about what it’s really all about. This quote from Alpha (attend on Tuesday nights this Fall!) that Pastor Stephen found is helpful:

It’s not about whether or not someone says yes to an invitation or how often we invite someone to another event. It’s about the invitation itself – the rest is up to God. Living a life of invitation should be present in our daily lives, as we become friends with an unlikely person, serve our communities, watch out for our neighbour and not be afraid to ask them for help, share things most important to us, and encourage the discouraged.

This is the invitational life – living life in such a way that gives people a safe space and the opportunity to explore life, faith and Jesus.

Lookout Blog is now Green Tables Blog!

This blog has always been about finding ways to live everyday lives on mission for the Gospel. It occurred to me one day that calling it the Green Tables blog would be more consistent with the way we talk at Cornerstone, so… voila!

New posts begin again this Thursday, and every Thursday after that!

Green Tables Blog

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At Cornerstone, we use the idea of Green Tables as a way of talking about living everyday lives on mission for the Gospel. On Thursdays Gordon Dickinson, Cornerstone’s Pastor of Community Outreach, will regularly post quotes, links, and thoughts to encourage you to look out at the people around you and consider how you can intentionally share the life and love of Jesus Christ.

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