The groom wants a healthy bride, not some emaciated fashion model who only appears beautiful. Our evangelism and church planting should reflect this optimism: with or without us, Jesus is marrying a big bride and church planting is still the most effective evangelistic tool on the face of the earth. Our purpose, then, is to evangelize the lost, enfold them in new churches, equip them to exalt Jesus in every area of life, and so expand his kingdom through continuing his ministry. The Association of Vineyard Churches evolved through our desire to do this more effectively by working together to train and oversee pastors and leaders. John Wimber
Our Theme: ON EVANGELISM.
The “E” word. The word so many of us in our churches fear. The idea of sharing our faith in Christ with others is a scary endeavor for most of us. Particularly in a society where Christianity is looked at with such cynicism. Over my thirty years in pastoral ministry, I’ve found that it’s so easy for so many of us Christians to settle down into our churches, get warm and cozy, and focus exclusively on caring for one another in the safe and sound settings of our common church life. As a shepherd at heart, if left to my own devices, I can very easily be lulled to sleep caring for the flock and watching over the concerns of those who attend the church I pastor.
Here’s the rub. Jesus, the shepherd, was never content to go off with his small flock of followers, removing himself permanently from the rest of the world around him. As I see it, Jesus of Nazareth, the contemplative shepherd, was a full-edged activist as well.
Let me share a new term I’m coming to truly appreciate: Contemplative Activism. My spiritual director, Dr. Micha Jazz, defines it this way:
Let’s remind ourselves that Contemplative Activism combines two ideas, the first one being the essential, yet often lost art of drawing aside with God for prayer and learning how to find Him in every aspect of life. Contemplative experience provides a door to discovering so much more about ourselves, each other, God and His ways. However there is a danger having ascended the heights through Contemplation, that we may not want to return and make our descent back into the streets of chaos within which we are called to carry out the mission of God. Secondly, therefore, we seek to live out prayer by rolling up our sleeves and serving the needs of the surrounding community. The Contemplative Activist develops the rhythm of ascent and descent in living the Spirit-filled life.
A contemplative activist.
Hmm. Come to think of it, maybe that’s why I loved being around a man like John Wimber.
As I see it, Wimber was a contemplative activist. He certainly was one of the best worshippers I’ve ever been around. He seemed to know how to be quiet and wait patiently for the Lord to whisper instructions into his ear. As a man of peace, he seemed to truly love the church he shepherded. He had compassion and warmth for every soul he met, and from my perspective, he could be as fatherly as anyone I’ve known. John Wimber: a contemplative? Yeah, I’d say he had that side to him.
But there was another part of Wimber. A man who loved the “E” word. An activist, not content to sit on the bench and let the world go to hell in a hand-basket. One who knew very well that Jesus hadn’t called the church to gather up their warm fuzzy blankets and hide away in some hidden-away sanctuary, waiting for the Master to return. No, he knew full well that the same flock he shepherded had also been called and commissioned by Jesus to go and love “the hell” out of the rest of the world.
Dr. Jazz defines contemplative activism as learning to develop a “rhythm of ascent and descent in living the Spirit-filled life.” I like that. So now, as we enter into these next few blog sessions on evangelism, let this concept of “staying” with Jesus to “go” in his name, lead the way.
Jesus, while I truly love the call to pastoral shepherding, please never allow me to become so comfortable in that role that I forget that we, your church, are all called to go and give away the same good news that has so radically transformed our own lives. Spirit, empower me to become a contemplative activist, one who lives out the rhythms of ascent and descent. For your name’s sake. Amen!
QUESTIONS FOR YOU TO PONDER
- As a quiet, reflective man, the “E” word can be so frightening and downright threatening to me. What changes do I need to make in my day-to-day life so that I never lose the call and commission of Christ to “go” in his name to love both the saved and unsaved in the world around me?
- What action steps can I take today to be actively involved in Jesus’ advancing kingdom mission to the world?
So what is God speaking to you today as you ponder the Wisdom of Wimber?
Between Easter 2016 and the end of August, we are sharing with you a blog series we call The Wisdom of Wimber: As I See It. In order to keep all 64 blog sessions organized, we suggest you bookmark our Wisdom of Wimber page for ease of use. Might we also suggest that you order a copy or two of our book by the same title! It’s available in both paperback and e-book formats…and will soon be available in Spanish! Click here for more info. ENJOY!
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