Last post we talked about the holy nature of domains and vocations as mission. Newbigin does so much with this, as does Bob in Real Time Connections. I’d suggest getting Bob’s book. It is one of my favorites.
I could drone on and on about domains as our DNA, and have done so here abundantly. But I’d like to give Newbigin’s practical ways we can support each other as we are in covenant fellowship, on mission together, striving toward one end with the strategic means of domains rather than programs as our initiative.
Newbigin gives four, and I’ll briefly comment on each one.
Fellowship that nourishes the life of Christ through the means of grace.
When he speaks of the “means of grace”, he means the Word, the sacraments (baptism and Lord’s Supper), and prayer. In other words, the fellowship we share in covenant and on mission needs to include bible, taking the Supper, participating in and observing baptism, and praying.
I’m not going to deal with why Newbigin identifies these three in his tradition as means of grace, just note that they are ways that God shows his power, sustaining, and gives us encouragement and other good stuff to keep us going.
We need to gather for worship and cell group fellowship where we get Scripture in abundance. We can never get enough bible.
We need to be making disciples and discipling them into baptism, baptizing them, and observing our friends doing the same thing. Jesus said to do this, by the way. It’s in the Manual. It’s not merely a pastoral task to baptize. It’s a disciple task to baptize those we disciple into Jesus.
We need to be taking the Lord’s Supper when we gather for worship. Some find it controversial to take the elements aside from them being administered in worship. I am not bothered by that. I’d say be careful with that whole Corinthians thing in 1 Corinthians 11, and then get after it corporately and when scattered.
We need to pray. I love that we have corporate time for prayer in our gathered worship. Don’t neglect prayer personally and corporately.
Through these means of grace, God gives us strength to keep going on as we stay on mission in our domains. So, don’t neglect these.
Fellowship that supports.
We need fellowship that encourages us to keep grinding away at disciple making. As Alan Hirsch recently said, “The key to evangelism is not more evangelism…It’s more discipleship.” The problem is that we have not discipled people to make disciples. If we are not multiplying ourselves into other people who are then doing what we have shown them to do in covenant fellowship on mission, then our discipleship is not complete.
We need to continue to provide fellowship that supports disciple making not more information gathering or nice spiritual services to consume.
Fellowship together with those on mission in engaging cultural idols of false narratives is helpful and rejuvenating to those on the front lines of that work.
Support Structures that equip.
If we say one thing, but our structure does not match what we say, then we are not, as we say in education, “vertically aligned”. If we say that our strategy is engaging domains, then we must provide structures that facilitate this strategy. If we say “domains” but provide ministry services for people to take advantage of and not opportunities to get equipped for their ministry of domains, then we have failed.
FYI: you have to show up to get equipped. You have to be in covenant membership on mission to get support and accountability.
Not all “fellowship” is biblical and missional fellowship. Non Christians have small group studies, dinners, and hang outs. What makes Christian small group “church” is covenant, mission and accountability.
We need that structure that supports Jesus’ end.
Leadership that enables.
If we are going to engage our world, we have to be leaders that enable the church not handicap the church. That means we set the example, we teach, and we refuse to let people consume rather than grow as an obedient disciple.
If we washed our son’s clothes (all teenage boys by the way), made all their food, cleaned their rooms, and gave them cell phones without cost, then we have handicapped them for the real world. If you are grown, did your momma come and wash your clothes? Does your daddy pay your cell phone bill? Do you get to play x-box while your parents foot the bill? If so, then come see me, I’ll…nevermind…about to sin…
I remember in college making fun of that guy who could not wash his own clothes. I made this one dude cry when I told him it was not “mommy’s little world anymore”. I’m not saying that was right, or that I was not mean. I should not have done that. I sinned by being mean like that. However, he should know how to wash his own dad gum clothes man. Mommy as not coming to our dorms and doing his laundry.
My point? Christians have to start making disciples and not simply inviting people and handing them off to “professionals”. It’s all our job to make disciples. So, as leaders, we have to teach and model this and then not allow folks to hand it back off to leadership.
If we do these things, we’ll be a long way into being solid ambassadors for Jesus in the public square.