June 8, 2021.
I saw a bumpersticker some years ago that said, “Jesus is Coming Back…Look Busy”! I have laughed over that statement many times since. But in truth, this is no laughing matter. A church that is not busy advancing the Kingdom of Heaven into the darkened places of this world are in ‘mission drift’. And that is not good for anyone.
#JesusStories: Jesus told a parable in Matt 20 about a vineyard owner who went out to the marketplace early in the morning and hired people to go work his fields. Then he went back at nine o clock and noticed others with nothing to do, so he sent them to his fields too. Then he went back at noon and again at three in the afternoon and saw still others ‘loafing around’ (CEV), and he sent them to his fields. Finally he went back at five and found still more who had been standing around all day because nobody had hired them, so he sent them out to join the other workers for the remaining hour. This story is a potent image – it reveals that our Lord is like the vineyard owner who is going back again and again looking for people to put to work in his harvest. This story also reveals the state of many churches who are standing around and not making themselves available to be hired and sent to the fields. This is sobering stuff. Somehow, the American Church has adopted an identity as ‘A Listening Church’. We go to church each week to listen to someone sing and listen to someone else do a scriptural teaching, then we go home until next Sunday. And yet Hebrews 10: 24 makes it clear that the purpose of gathering as a church is so that we will ‘provoke one another unto love and good works‘ (KJV). Notice with me that this text isn’t asking for mere ‘works’, but rather ‘good works’. There is a Kingdom-centric version of works being requested here. Helping each other is great, practicing random acts of kindness is popular, but Christ-followers are ask to engage in His good works of advancing the inbreaking kingdom into the darkened places of earth. What many Christians need now is for Jesus himself to walk up to them and ask, “Why are you standing around? Let me hire you and send you to one of my harvest fields in this town!” Oh Lord, please talk to us and our people that way.
#DinnerChurchQuotes: North American churches today largely focus on attraction strategies, when what they actually need is to develop infiltration strategies. (Chuck Lawless)
#PracticalStuff: This year the Dinner Churches in Seattle are feeling stirred to engage in an initiative we are calling TAKE BACK THE SIDEWALKS. Practically, it means that every time we host a Dinner Church, we have a prayer team walking and praying around the six blocks that surround each of our sites. We feel Jesus hasn’t only given us rooms full of people to lift, but their entire neighborhoods too. Would you consider adding a prayer-walking team to your weekly Dinner Church? This is big stuff. When we do prayer walks we are dispelling darkness and walking in the very presence of Jesus step-by-step and week-by-week. We should expect this to affect the atmosphere of our neighborhood, breathe increased blessing into homes and families, reduce crime, and literally watch the works of darkness fade while the inbreaking Kingdom swells. Would you be willing to talk this over with your team?
Blessings & Boldness,
Dr. Verlon and Melodee Fosner have led a multi-site Assemblies of God Dinner Church in Seattle, Washington since 1999 (www.CommunityDinners.com). In this decade when more churches in the U.S. are declining than thriving, and when ninety-six churches a week are closing, Verlon and Melodee sensed that a different way of doing church was needed for their 97-year old Seattle congregation. It soon became obvious that they were not the only ones in need of a different path. They joined the FX team in 2016 and founded the Dinner Church Collective. And then in 2019 founded the Dinner Church School of Leadership. There is a lot to be gained when church leaders begin to see open doors in the American landscape that they had previously overlooked. Therein lies the journey for those who will forge a new future for the American Church.