Sunday, September 29, 2013

Our Mission - Partner

  1. I John, brother...
  2. John, servant who bore witness to the word of God...
  3.  I John... partner
This three part series was designed to be given as a talk at the genesis collective time away in Malibu. We wanted to explore the theme of "Mission" and our role in it the Mission of God.

This third piece looks at the role of "partnership" - between the Ephesians 4 giftings and the local church.

To quote Seth Godin again: Tribes need leadership. Sometimes one person leads, sometimes more. People want connection and growth and something new. They want change”

“Some tribes are stuck. They embrace the status quo and drown out any tribe members who dare to question authority and the accepted order... Every tribe, though is a movement waiting to happen, a group of people just waiting to be energized and transformed. A movement is thrilling...” Seth Godin
The conversation about “partnership” is seen in this context is John, the third apostle working in the area [Paul, then Timothy], engaged on mission with the 7 churches in the region. So often we default to Paul when studying the role of apostles rather than Peter or John. Added to this is the apostle’s heart to and for these churches.
But let us stand back for a moment and talk about Mission Theology:

In his epic account, David Bosch wrote: Mission was understood as being derived from the very nature of God. It was thus put in the context of the Trinity, not ecclesiology or soteriology. The classical doctrine on the ‘missio dei’ as God the Father sending the Son and God the Father and Son sending the Spirit was expanded to include yet another ‘movement’. The Father, Son and Holy Spirit sending the church into the world... our mission has no life of its own; only in the hands of the sending God can it truly be called mission...In the new image is not primarily an activity of the church but the attribute of God...It is not the church that has a mission of salvation to fulfill in the world; it is the mission of the Son and the Spirit through the Father that includes the church. Mission is therefore seen as a movement from God to the world; the church is an instrument for that mission...
The primary purpose of the missiones ecclesiae can therefore not simply be the planting of churches or the saving of souls; rather, it has to be service to the missio dei, representing God in and against the world, pointing to God, holding up the God-child before the eyes of the world in a ceaseless celebration of the Feast of the Epiphany. In its mission, the church witnesses to the fullness of the promise of God’s reign and participates in the ongoing struggle between that reign and the powers of darkness and evil...
The missio dei is God’s activity, which embraces both the church and the world and in which the church may be privileged to participate.”

Darrel Guder writes in turn: This ecclesiocentric understanding of the mission has been replaced during this century by a profoundly theocentric reconceptualization of Christian mission... Rather mission is the result of God’s initiative, rooted in God’s purposes to restore and heal creation... God’s mission unfolded in the history of God’s people across the centuries recorded in scripture and it reaching its revelatory climax in the incarnation of of God’s work of salvation in Jesus ministering, crucified and resurrected. God’s mission continued then in the sending of the Spirit to call forth and empower the church as a witness to God’s good news in Jesus Christ. It continues today in the worldwide witness of the church in every culture to the gospel of Jesus Christ and it moves toward the promised consummation of God’s salvation in the ‘eschaton’...the biblical message is more radical, more inclusive, more transforming than we have allowed it to be”

Chris Wright says it simply:
“Fundamentally, our mission (if it is biblically informed and validated) means our committed participation as God’s people, at God’s invitation and command, in God’s own mission within the history of God’s world for the redemption of God’s creation” .

  It is impossible to cover every theological perspective, every debate, every position held. What we can do however, is begin the define what the mission is that we are called to.

The word “partner” means:
  •   W.E. Vines Dictionary: “koinonos - an adjective signifying ‘having in common’ in spiritual life and business”
  •   Websters Dictionary:  “...two people who dance together; one who plays on the same team with another”

Biblically, this word ‘partner’ is applied at 3 levels:

1.   With the other Ephesians 4 gifts that the apostle worked with:

2 Corinthians 8:23 As for Titus, he is my partner and fellow worker for your benefit.

Philemon 1:17 So if you consider me your partner, receive him as you would me.

2.   With the churches who partnered with him and he with them;

Philippians 1: 5 ...because of our partnership in the gospel from the first day until now.
Philippians 4:15 And you Philippians yourselves know that in the beginning of the gospel, when I left Macedonia, no church entered into partnership with me in giving and receiving, except you only.
3.   With the churches through which that new spaces, places and people were opened:
2 Cor 10:13 But we will not boast beyond limits, but will boast only with regard to the area of influence God assigned to us, to reach even to you. 14 For we are not overextending ourselves, as though we did not reach you. For we were the first to come all the way to you with the gospel of Christ. 15 We do not boast beyond limit in the labors of others. But our hope is that as your faith increases, our area of influence among you may be greatly enlarged, 16 so that we may preach the gospel in lands beyond you, without boasting of work already done in another's area of influence.
Let me then summarize all of this in our context: 

I believe that the great redemption narrative that traces the text gives us the backbone of divine mission throughout the text:
“Be fruitful [increase], multiply, fill the earth” to Adam Gen 1:28
“Be fruitful, multiply, fill the earth” to Noah Gen 9:1
“... I may make my covenant between me and you and may multiply you greatly...For I have made you the father of a multitude of nations... I will make you exceedingly fruitful I will make you exceedingly fruitful and I will make you into nations and kings shall come from you...” Gen 17:1 - 7, 22:15 - 18, 26:1 - 7, 28:3 - 5, 35:9 - 15, 48:2 - 6,
“They are the shoot that I have planted, the work of my hands, for the display of my splendor... the sovereign Lord will make righteousness and praise spring up before all nations” Is 60: 21 - 61: 11
“All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you and surely I am with you always to the very end of the age.” Matt 28:18 - 20

What is our Mission?
“The art of leadership is understanding what you can’t compromise  on”
So great leaders don’t try to please everyone. Great leaders don’t water down their message in order to make the tribe a bit bigger. Instead they realize that a motivated, connected tribe in the midst of a movement is far more powerful than a larger group could ever be” Seth Godin

  1. I believe the Mission Dei is the renewal of all things; ETERNAL
  2. I believe that our part of that is to “Disciple all Nations”; GLOBAL
  3. I believe that we need to agree that together [ as a brotherhood of mutual love and co-engagement] we can achieve more; TOGETHERNESS
  4. I believe that we plant churches that can influence and impact their communities, cities, countries with the gospel which expresses itself with both salvation as well as social justice; TRANSFORMATION
  5. I believe that our mandate includes recognizing, raising up and releasing all 5 of the Ephesians 4 giftings; as well as all other forms of leadership; GREENHOUSE 
  6. I believe we need to be intentional to identify the emerging apostles, especially in each nation / context, seeking to release them as soon as we are able, to launch their own apostolic stories / spheres - seeking to get each country to have at least one or more of their own apostolic stories; APOSTLES
  7. I believe we need to see Genesis Collective as a story, end with Meryl and I, but the legacy, DNA and essence living on in the lives of many.leaders, fathers, pastors, apostles [and E4 giftings] , as well as pioneers, entrepreneurs, creators, risk takers, fire brands and challengers of the status quo. MULTIPLICATION...
As my friend Brian Barr said: What we really are and have been doing for many years is:

"be fruitful and multiply"

- reproducing disciples

- planting churches

- multiplying movements 

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