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What's happenin' at Create Church
- We believe that each follower of Jesus is a minister. Our gatherings are a place to encourage each other as we live life on a mission of Christ-like love. We believe your family has already been sent on a mission with Jesus where you live, work, and play. We're here to say "go for it!" and to share stories of how God is creating new life.
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For small group discussion:
SPLIT UP INTO GROUPS OF 3-5 PEOPLE
SAY HI TO EACH OTHER! SOMEONE JUMP IN AND READ THE FOLLOWING 2 steps:
- To start things off, let's each say our names and a favorite childhood toy. I'll go first.
- As a group, we are going to pick a Discussion Mover (DM) for today. This person's job is to (1) be vulnerable (2) keep discussion moving (3) make the "do it" section as impactful as possible. We can nominate a DM, spin something to choose someone, or ask the group if you can volunteer.
Discussion Mover (DM), read the following:
- What are a couple of expectations for our discussion today?
- Is this a safe place where we can be honest with each other?
- As Jesus leads us today, are we willing to follow Him?
DM please pray and simply ask God to speak with you and be with your group.
Lord of the Full-Life Adventure Pt. 1
- Central Theme: Committing Our Whole Lives to God
- Biblical Reflection: Deuteronomy 6:1-9; Mark 12:29-31; Romans 12:1-2
- Reading: Lord Over All
- Reading Reflection: Living the Confession
- Missional Action: Seeing and Responding to God's Missional Work
Central Theme: Committing Our Whole Lives to God
Living in the twenty-first century presents a unique set of challenges for those of us in the developed world. Modern conveniences and technology certainly make chores and routine tasks easier, but they also coincide with a lifestyle of disconnectedness from others around us. For the most part, our lives are compartmentalized in such a way that we live with a lack of integration. We speak of our work life, recreational life, family life, and spiritual life. The result for many of us is a disintegrated life.
- Think about the people in your life across the different spheres of your routines — home, work, play, church, shopping, and so on. How integrated is your life?
- What does the phrase, "The Lord your God is one Lord" mean for you?
- Share your thoughts on the concepts of sacred places and secular places.
Partner up for the Biblical Reflection:
- Read Deuteronomy 6:1-9 and Mark 12:29-31. As you reflect upon this passage, in what ways have you faithfully loved God with all of your heart, all of your soul, and with all of your strength? In what ways have you held back?
- Who are the people in the spheres of your life from whom you have withheld your "whole heart, soul, and strength"?
- What idols in your life are hindering you from loving God and loving others with your whole life?
- Read Romans 12:1-2. If worship means offering our whole lives back to God, how might that bring change in your current living? How can you offer your life back to God on a daily basis? Read The Message version of Romans 12:1-2 and reflect from this perspective.
LORD OF THE FULL-LIFE ADVENTURE PT. 2
Reading: Lord Over All
Ours is a culture totally different from the audience that sat at Jesus' feet. His listeners were not comprised of twenty-first century Westerners who are mostly a reasoning and scientifically-minded society. The ancient Near Last people were deeply spiritual and consciously aware of sacred, mystical, and even magical realms. Theirs was a culture that was filled with a number of gods and demigods. They were pluralists. Virtually every sphere of life had a god that was seen as ruling over it. There was the god of the forest, the god of family, the god of the river, the god of the harvest, and so on. Each and every god was feared and had to be negotiated with and appeased on a regular basis.
It was within this culture that one of the local scribes approached Jesus to ask him what the most important commandment was (Mark 12:29-31). Imagine that. Out of all the commandments in the Old Testament, this guy wanted Jesus to narrow them down to the top one. How could this be possible? After all, Yahweh himself issued each and every commandment. They were all important. Every single precept came from the lips of God. How could one commandment stand above the rest?
Throughout the Gospels when Jesus was asked a question, he answered it with another question, or even a parable. This was a typical rabbinic method of teaching. However, on this occasion, departing from his normal way of responding, Jesus not only answered the question posed to him; he did so quickly and plainly.
It would not have been unreasonable to expect Jesus to respond, as he so typically did, by asking another thought provoking question. It is easy to imagine Jesus saying, Look around at the fields and mountains; see the lake teeming with fish and all manner of creatures. Which of all these that God has created is most important? Christ could have said, Every commandment is God breathed and not one is more or less important than the other. But Jesus immediately answered straight away and without hesitation. And he went further; he gave the guy a two-for-one deal: Jesus told the scribe the number one most important commandment plus the number two most important commandment.
"The most important one," answered Jesus, "is this: 'Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.' The second is this: 'Love your neighbor as yourself.' There is no commandment greater than these." (Mark 12:29-31)
The commandment Jesus proclaims as the most important is known as the Shema, which means "hear." What we are to hear is that there are not a multitude of gods (polytheism). The implication is that one God is Lord over every part of our lives, bar none. Nothing lies beyond his claims or power. This idea obliterates the concept of sacred and secular places in our lives (dualism). Our God is God from bedroom to boardroom, from workplace to play place, from living room to schoolroom, and every place in between. Missiologists Michael Frost and Alan Hirsch succinctly comment on the Shema:
Deuteronomy 6:4 is the claim of Yahweh over against the competing claim of the many other gods in the polytheistic religious environment of the day. It is a call for the loyalty of the people. This statement is therefore an attack on heathen religious polytheism rather than just a statement about so-called "ethical monotheism" of the later speculative theologians. The claim has direct and concrete implications: It is a call for the Israelites to live their lives under the Lordship of one God and not under the tyranny of the many gods. In other words, it is a practical call not to live one's life as if there were a different god for every sphere of life—a god of the field, a god of the river, a god of fertility, a god of the sun, and so forth.
Judaism loudly proclaims that there is only one God and he is Lord of every aspect of life. Again, here the concrete and practical nature of Hebraic thinking comes to the fore. Polytheists can compartmentalize life and distribute it among many powers. But as Maurice Friedman rightly says, "The man in the Israelite world who has faith is not distinguished from the 'heathen' by a mere spiritual view of the Godhead, but by the exclusiveness of his relationship to God, and by his reference of all things to him." Monotheists (really, biblical believers) have only one reference point. This is the biblical mode of thinking—concrete and practical, as opposed to theoretical and speculative. The implications are far reaching, not as simple theology, but as practical missiology. A re-Hebraizing of Christianity is so vital for the emergence of the missional-incarnational church.
This claim to unify our lives under the one God (called yichud by the rabbis) has truly radical implications for us today as we struggle to find new ground on which to base our discipleship. Biblical monotheism means that we cannot live like there is one "god" for the church and another for politics and another in economic life or still another for the home. No, all of life, every aspect of it, every dimension, is to be brought under and unified under the one God, Yahweh. Seen in this light, the Shema is a claim of God's exclusivity and a direct challenge from God about the role of idols in the believer's life. In the first, and original, instance it has nothing to do with the Eternal Being of God.
Especially in a culture such as ours, where a lack of integration in every sphere of our lives is the norm, the importance of understanding and acting on the truth of the Shema cannot be overstated. Our society is one that lacks connection between the people and the places that make up our lifestyle patterns. The people we work with are not the same people we see in our favorite coffee shop. The folks that we see at the gym are not the same ones we see at the mega grocery store. And none of these people are members of our own local church.
There are only one or two types of places most people, Christian and non-Christian alike, consider to be sacred. These spots are official places of worship—church, synagogue, and mosque—and home. The remaining places we call secular territory. If you ask most Christians, they consider their places of work, recreation, education, commerce, and marketplace to all be secular spaces.
Lord of All
Secular, by definition, means "non-sacred" or "apart from God." Theologians call this idea dualism, a terribly dangerous precept that not only limits God, but limits mission. The subconscious result of the dualistic divisions means that most Christians compartmentalize spirituality into the two sacred boxes of church and home. Therefore, we consider the people we encounter in differing territories the same way. Especially in evangelical circles, the people that occupy "nonsacred" spaces often become categorized as them within the us vs. them delusion that has become part of the sacred-secular divide.
With the Shema, Jesus is saying that all dimensions of our lives are under his care, joy, and rule. God gets out of the stained glass box of church and moves into every sphere of society. We—those filled with his spirit—can (and should) begin to understand all of life as ministry and worship. This idea is echoed in the legendary movie, Chariots of Fire, in which Eric Liddell says, "I believe God made me for a purpose, but he also made me fast. And when I run I feel his pleasure."
So as we seek to Shema (to hear) we aim to recognize God's activity throughout our daily routines. By understanding that God is everywhere and seeking to restore and redeem broken people and the brokenness throughout all of creation, our lives take on new meaning—spiritual meaning. Henri Nouwen says,
There is a real tendency to think of the spiritual life as a life that will begin when we have certain feelings, think certain thoughts, or gain certain insights. The problem, however, is not how to make the spiritual life happen, but to see where it actually is happening. We work on the premise that God acts in this world and in the lives of individuals and communities. God is doing something right now. The chipping away and sculpting is taking place whether we are aware of it or not. Our task is to recognize that, indeed, it is God who is acting, and we are involved already in the spiritual life.
The sacred-secular divide as a mindset, or paradigm, has enormous implications for the life of the Christian. When we live under this misguided belief, we leave God out of the equation of the majority of our actual daily living. But when we seek to hear God in our daily routines, believing that the Lord is bringing his kingdom to earth, we hear and see things we might have never observed beforehand.
For Christian businessmen and women this means that the phrase, "This is business" is no longer an acceptable excuse for shady dealings, or even lopsided deals where we aim to get everything we can even if it means driving the other person out of business because, after all, this is not spiritual; this is just business. Understanding Shema means we understand that God is just as much in on this deal as he is in on Sunday morning praise and worship.
Understanding God is one Lord over all things and beings keeps us tuned in to—hearing—his voice in every situation. He is Lord of cafe, gym, workplace, bus ride, fast food restaurant, neighborhood . . . everything, every place. The apostle Paul said, "For from him and through him and for him are all things" (Romans 11:36). In the very next verse he continues,
So here's what I want you to do, God helping you: Take your everyday, ordinary life—your sleeping, eating, going-to-work, and walking-around life—and place it before God as an offering. Embracing what God does for you is the best thing you can do for him. Don't become so well-adjusted to your culture that you fit into it without even thinking. Instead, fix your attention on God. You'll be changed from the inside out. Readily recognize what he wants from you, and quickly respond to it. (Romans 12:1-2, TM)
On the basis of the fact that God is over all and in all situations, Paul appeals to us to offer our whole world up to God in worship. He is Lord over every dimension of life. Since God is One we have the obligation to "bring every aspect of our lives, communal and individual, under this One God.Yahweh."
The Shema is one of the most practical and catalytic passages in all of Scripture. It is no wonder that Jesus calls it the most important commandment of all. It calls us to bring our minds, hearts, and bodies under the complete lordship of Jesus. God is no longer understood as involved in just the "spiritual" dimensions of our lives, because we have eliminated the sacred-secular divide from our concept of God and life in general.
This is a cornerstone precept of the biblical worldview. We commit our whole life to God. Nothing is off limits. If the entire world, including our immediate world, and all that is within it is truly under the ownership of God, then there can be no part of my life that is not open to his rule.
It is very possible to be a confessing monotheist (belief in one God), while being a practicing polytheist (belief in multiple gods). To confess Jesus is Lord means our loyalty is with him throughout every sphere of our lives, including our sexuality, activity as consumers, roles as neighbors, workers, and friends. We have one life, under one Lord.
Reading Reflection: Living the Confession
1. Before reading this week's lesson, how much thought had you given concerning the differing compartments of your life?
2. Up to this point in your journey, in what ways have you viewed the world from the perspective of a sacred/secular divide?
3. What has been your basic concept of worship before this lesson? In what ways has this session reformed your thinking about worship?
4. Think about your own life for a moment. Consider the people and events that form your normal rhythm of living. Where do you carry out the actual living of your life? Who are the people that you frequently interact with, and where are the places you most often can be found? Think about these places:
- Grocery store
- Coffee shop
- Gym or golf course
- Auto shop
- Salon or barbershop
5. In The Message translation of Romans 12:1-2, Eugene Peterson writes, "Take your everyday, ordinary life—your sleeping, eating, going-to-work, and walking-around life—and place it before God as an offering." Discuss how this might change the way you approach your day-to-day life.
Seeing and Responding to God's Missional Work
1. This week, decide how you can demonstrate/practice your love for the Lord with your heart (inner passion), your soul (mind), and your strength (body). Give yourself a daily assignment for each area, such as prayer (heart), reading (mind), and serving someone (strength).
2. Based on Romans 12:1-2, what "sacrifice" of worship will you offer up to God this week?
3. Take some time to meditate on the Shema, asking the Lord how you can most faithfully love God and neighbor.
4. What was your experience today in practicing your love for the Lord in the three spheres of heart, soul, and strength?
New tactics for 2015
Starting church communities around common passions.
We are a
Create Church as a startup
- Startup's definition: an organization designed to create new (products and) services under conditions of extreme uncertainty.
- Startup's most vital function: learning. Which elements of our strategy are working to realize our vision and which are just crazy.
- Startup's job: (1) rigorously measure where it is right now, confronting the hard truths that assessment reveals, and then (2) devise experiments to learn how to move the real numbers closer to the ideal reflected in the vision.
- Validated learning (scientific testing and measuring of what is valuable). Assumption testing. Waste elimination.
- 2015 tactics: Smoke testing, AB testing, new minimum viable products (MVP). Many experiments coming in 2015.
More about the Forge Minneapolis Preview
Discover what you are made to do.
Believe that you are a minister, and that God has already sent you on a mission to represent Jesus with the people where you live, work, and play.
Step into the adventure of asking Jesus to give you His heart for the people in your neighborhood you already live in or group that you already identify with.
Are you equipped to make a Jesus-like impact in your world? Go on a 3-month mission trip without quitting your job, leaving your neighborhood, or hanging up your hobbies. This is a chance to invest time in the lab of learning and start to launch out in love with the community He puts on your heart.
A full 9-month mission trip starts October 2015.