Joy and Pain- Birthing New Missional Communities

“I am the true vine, and my Father is the vinedresser. Every branch in me that does not bear fruit he takes away, and every branch that does bear fruit he prunes, that it may bear more fruit. (John 15:1-2 ESV)

Jesus always said it best. And He continues to say it best. The real purpose of being with our Father, being in a life-giving relationship of love and trust with Him, is that our lives would cause other people’s lives to come alive in Christ. Being a disciple of Jesus IS the only way to making disciples of Jesus. I realize you already know this perhaps, but my wife, kids, and myself are trying really hard to stay connected to Jesus, so that everything we do would be because of His life in us, not our own.

For too long we simply do Christian activity on our own strength, setting up meetings, groups, festivals, concerts, discipleship groups and programs, missional community meetings, city networks to develop leaders, regional partnerships to collaborate, etc. But at the end of the day what remains, and what only remains is the wonders and works the God Himself can only take credit for. Early Jesus-followers were not interested in anything less than God’s work through their own obedience to Him;

“And now, Lord, look upon their threats and grant to your servants to continue to speak your word with all boldness, while you stretch out your hand to heal, and signs and wonders are performed through the name of your holy servant Jesus.” And when they had prayed, the place in which they were gathered together was shaken, and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and continued to speak the word of God with boldness.” (Acts 4:27-31 ESV)

So what are we trusting Jesus for today? Are we just spinning Christian plates on sticks and asking the Lord to keep everything going? Are we seriously seeking the Father’s will, and seeing Him move how He desires to move, and involve us?

We have been using October to pray as a family and as a Sanctus family. We know we need to multiply across our city to continue to reach out to the 200,000 in our metro area. We know we have great servant leaders to do that. We have even heard the Holy Spirit say send some out! So we will be obedient even though it is a mixture of joy and pain, happiness and sorrow, excitement and reservedness. We are saying that some relationships, with our closest friends, will change to a certain degree as we send them out. We wont have a weekly time together to gather as a church family, because they will be sent to establish a new church family in a different part of the city, with a different sub-culture, and different weekly rhythms. They are our newly matured children heading out of the house to establish their own home and continue to mutliply Jesus’ Kingdom.

But in the midst of that pain and fear of change, we are overjoyed to see people sent on Jesus’ mission to bring hope, light, mercy, justice, and forgiveness to people who need it all around their lives. We can endure this momentary suffering of not being with our closest friends every week. We can endure it, because Jesus and His Gospel is better than all that. New friends being welcomed into the Father’s family through the blood of Jesus is far more worth it. The unspeakable joy, peace, and presence of our Gracious Father and King dwarfs any temporary loss I might feel. More churches on Jesus’ mission, means more disciples being made, which means more hearts worshiping and loving the God that has known and loved me for almost 20 yrs now.

In Jesus’ parable above note there are only two types of branches; those branches who do bear fruit, and those who do not. I really think that we all would want to be the branch that works to bear fruit, right? But I also think Jesus puts us back in our place if we think it is on our own shoulders to bear fruit;

“I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing.” (John 15:5 ESV)

Please pray that as we seek to be about Jesus’ mission in our city, that we would simply listen to His voice, be filled up and controlled daily by His Spirit, and speak clearly how we ought to. We want to be joyful about bearing fruit, but also accepting the pain of having our hearts sacrificing what we hold dear, to what we will hold even more dear-the Kingdom of Jesus multiplying and growing across our city to the nations!