There are two things that are constantly being worn out by my spouse--his shoes and his Bibles.
I noticed this trait early in our relationship. I bought him a pair of cowboy boots for his ordination and before the tops were even scuffed, he had worn a hole in the 1/4-inch leather sole. Mark is hard on shoes.
He’s also hard on Bibles. On the one hand, for a Bible-overprotector like me, this is kind of a foreign occurrence. On the other hand, it makes gift shopping really easy. For Mark’s birthday last week, Flint and I bought him a new Bible. AGAIN. This is at least the fourth Bible I have purchased for him since we got married. Mark is hard on Bibles.
So what does this have to do with developing our Launch Team?
At this phase in the church plant, we aren’t practicing music for worship or looking for rental space... we’re walking and we’re praying. We’re putting a lot of wear-and-tear on our shoes and our Bibles.
About once a month, we’re inviting people who live near the mission focus area (and beyond) to gather with us for prayer. This month we’re learning to “prayer walk” a neighborhood.
I’m really hoping that this will be a new experience for most of the people who attend… mostly because it’s relatively new to ME.
I’m a lifelong Lutheran. Put a hymnal in my hand or plop me in the middle of a potluck and I’m right at home. But this whole meet-your-neighbors, pray-outside-the-church-building thing... yeah I’m hoping I’m not the only one who feels like a foreign missionary doing this.
But I wonder if that's exactly how we're supposed to be feeling.
One of the marks of being the Church is feeling a little uncomfortable or out of place. As believers, we “[acknowledge] that [we are are] strangers and exiles on the earth” (Heb. 11:13). Jesus himself said that we are not of the world even as He is not of the world (John 17:16). And he left us here with a job to do. John 17:18 continues, "As you sent me into the world, so I have sent them into the world."
So back to the Launch Team. Like, who's even on it? Right now we’re asking God to reveal His will on that. After the first of the year, we’ll ask a dozen or so families to join us for regular gatherings where we’ll get into the vision & mission of this new church plant. If we haven’t scared them away after that, we’ll begin training together to be local missionaries where we we “live, work, and play.” Topics we’ll cover include Christianity 101 (i.e., how we express the gospel to an unbeliever), hospitality (i.e. how to carve out time for manning those Gospel frontlines), vocation, spiritual giftedness, etc.
After seasons of prayer walking, digging deeply into our Bibles, and training... then we’ll begin getting into the nitty-gritty of planning for public worship on a weekly basis.
If there’s one thing I’ve learned from watching Mark these past few years, it’s that we should be hard on our shoes and our Bibles as we carry the Good News to the world.
This is exciting! It’s a little terrifying! And it’s something we can do together, even as we are equipped for the task through the Word, the Lord’s Supper, and the encouragement of the Body of Christ.
We are served by the Lord so that we may serve others.
We are fed by the Bread of Life so that we may feed others.
We are gathered as the Body of Christ so that we may launch out together into a world desperate for Good News.
Is the Spirit challenging you to launch with us? If you think the answer might be yes, pray over the vision statement we shared with folks at the October prayer gathering (below). What is God saying to you through your regular Bible reading? What are you going to do about it?
INVITING PEOPLE TO WALK WITH US
AS WE WALK WITH JESUS.