Community Values…LIMBS: Incarnational
A few months ago we looked at how communities and central gatherings can work together as one body.
Communities are the LIMBS on this body – the moving parts that give the body its mission-reach. They are also our primary place of belonging, making disciples and developing leaders.
We also looked at the first of our LIMBS values; the importance of being love and service-motivated.
L ove and service motivated
M aking Disciples
B eing Family
S ent & Sending
This time I’d like us to explore our second key value – what it means to be an Incarnational people.
We know that Jesus left everything to come and live among us. His love was so great that the most powerful being in the universe made himself nothing – beginning life as a vulnerable and dependant baby and even as a grown man, he made himself the servant of all. He had 30 years of being among the people to whom he had been sent, before embarking on any public ministry. He took time to know the hearts and ways of the people He was revealing Himself to.
In the same way, Jesus told his disciples to “Go” and represent Him and preach the good news in all the world, making disciples of all nations/peoples – beginning in Jerusalem, (the most familiar place), extending to Judea and Samaria, and then to the ends of the earth. (Matt 28:16 & Acts 1:8)
The call to these first disciples was not to be content to just reach people who were very similar to them, but to be willing to move from their familiar culture and location and make disciples of people who were very different to them.
If they were to follow the example of Jesus, this would mean living amongst those to whom they were being sent, taking the attitude of servants by learning their culture and ways, and then living and communicating the good news in ways that were meaningful in that culture.
I would suggest this same call to incarnational mission has not changed. It may be that you are called to the equivalent of Jerusalem – to live, love, serve and incarnate the good news amongst people who are very like you – and to grow missional community there.
But it may also be that God is calling you to leave what is familiar to you and go and live among a people who are only a bit like you (Judea and Samaria), or not like you at all (the ends of the earth) – and grow community there.
Every generation needs people who are willing to pay the price and respond to the call to go to people who are not like them. God’s love in us compels us – God so loved that He gave, He sent, He came and dwelled among us – and it cost Him everything.
The Codinas and Nunns are a great example of this here at St Thomas’ Philadelphia in Sheffield. Charlotte, the Team Leader, has a PhD and could have gone anywhere and done anything as a young adult. However, she chose to move to a tiny terraced house in one of the poorest estates in Sheffield. She started with a Stomp Club (for 7-11’s), and now has a flourishing community with schools work, toddler groups and youth work all a part of it – all because she was willing to say, “Yes, I will go and live among that community and be good news to them.”
We are not all Charlottes, but that doesn’t mean that God doesn’t want us to live these principles in smaller ways… For example – if you are a community of English students, God may ask you to welcome some international students into the family…If you are a community in suburbia, He may ask you to open your hearts and homes to a failed asylum seeker…It may be that one of your small groups can be sent out to begin a new community in a completely different context…
The most important thing is that we are willing to continually go and be among those we are trying to reach – and not get too comfortable where we are. I’d encourage you to ask God to show you how you can be a more effective incarnational missionary/community wherever you are.
Lindsay Lonchar leads the Missional Communities and Training Team at St Thomas’ Church Philadelphia in Sheffield and is also training to become a Baptist Minister.
Image courtesy of Grant Cochrane / FreeDigitalPhotos.net