We’re excited about what God is doing in our Home Fellowship as Burlington City Church has moved from an idea to a concrete reality. As we’re preparing for Easter on April 8, launching our second Home Fellowship in Winooski on April 15, and looking forward to launching a couple of more in the coming months, we’re spending three weeks discussing the foundational vision and values that drive us as a church. Here are the notes from our Home Fellowship meeting on March 18.
Four BIG QUESTIONS:
- What is the church?
- What is our mission?
- How does that practically look in 2012 Burlington, VT?
- What will that require of us?
What do you think most people in our community or culture think of? All we have to do is look at Church Street, the main street in downtown Burlington.
I want you to understand my background. I grew up in Bible- belt Church. I was in church 9 months before I was born. A regular part of my weekly routine was Sunday School at 9:30 a.m. and a worship service at 11 a.m. Some Sundays weʼd make it to a 6 p.m. service and when I became a teenager there was a Wednesday night youth meeting. Church was a big part of my life, it was something we did. It looked something like this:
Hereʼs the problem with this perspective: when church is something we do, itʼs something we start and stop.
When we read through the New Testament book of Acts when people said yes to following Jesus, when they accepted Him as Savior and Lord, when they were baptized they were instantly part of the church. Church wasnʼt something they could start and stop doing- that because they were the church. Church was not something they did-itʼs who they were.
What does scripture says the church is? How does the Bible describe the church?
Two prominent word pictures are used in the New Testament.
1) A body- the body of Christ with its many members working together.
2) A family- a spiritual family of brothers and sisters in Jesusliving out the mission and message of Jesus together.
If we look at the first church in Jerusalem in Acts 2:41-47 thatʼs exactly what we see.
And as we continue reading through the book of Acts we see this expanding spiritual family made up of many household sized spiritual families multiplying around Jerusalem and then city to city throughout the Roman Empire.
Hereʼs where I think to understand what God is doing we need to take a big step back. We need to understand the mission and message that is driving this spiritual family and its expansion. (Remember: the book of Acts is part two of two letters from Luke to a guy named Theophilus. Reading both books as one narratives allows us to better see the current of what God is doing.)
To understand the church’s mission we must understand Jesus’ mission- they’re one in the same. What is the mission and message of Jesus?
• Luke 4:18-19 •Luke 9:23-27 • Luke 19:9-10 • Matthew 20:25-28 • Matthew 25:35-40 • Matthew 9:11-13
Jesus is laser beam focused on serving the least and seeking the lost. Those that seem at the bottom of the social ladder and those that seem to be the furthest from God are who Heʼs been sent to pursue. Then He takes it even one step further: those are the people He invites to become His disciples and who He equips to be the leaders of His mission and in His movement. Just look at the apostles.
When I say the word “apostles” whatʼs the first thought that comes to your mind? Jesusʼ inner circle. Super Holy guys. Leaders in the early church.
Have you ever checked out the background on these guys?
Luke 6 gives us a list of the twelve guys Jesus called out to be His disciples. I wonʼt hit on all of them, but hereʼs a few:
• Matthew was a tax collector and a sell-out to the Roman Empire. He took advantage of his fellow Israelites by skimming off the taxes he was collecting.
• Simon was a Zealot which means he was very likely a militant guy who wanted to overthrow the Roman government by violent force. In his mind the only good Roman was a dead Roman.
• Most of us know that Peter, Andrew, James, and John were blue-collar fishermen. That may not seem significant, but it means that no other rabbi had deemed them worthy to invite them to follow. They had been passed over and had no expectation of being spiritually influential. Later on (Acts 4:13) the religious leaders are amazed when they see Peter and John healing and preaching in the temple because they were untrained, uneducated, ordinary men.
As we see these spiritual families multiplying in Jerusalem and eventually throughout the Roman Empire this is the mission we see driving them: seeking the lost and serving the least. If the same mission and message drives us, if the same Holy Spirit lives in us, then we cannot limit what Heʼs doing to this place or this group of people. It will multiply to different neighborhoods around this city and around this state. Next weʼll be talking more about what that practically means for us in 2012 Burlington, VT.