Mission > [is greater than] Establishment

A few days ago, I found myself pulled into a discussion I didn’t fully realize I was being pulled into. Sometimes, that’s just the way it goes. Prepared or not, ready or not, and sometimes willing or not – there you are. Right in the thick of it.

It was interesting. It was relevant. I was just running a bit late for a long overdue dental appointment. So I had about 15 minutes, at that appointed time, to try and give an answer for a question that was being tabled. The discussion surrounded the church and the mission that the church has been given: “to go into all the world, and make disciples of all nations…” (see Matthew 28).

A good question you might be wondering, right about now, is this: What in the world does the church, the Great Commission, and establishment have to do with one another? That is a very good question – let me elaborate a bit more.

One of the persons in the discussion was convinced that the church, for the most part, has become more of an “establishment” and has lost (or minimized) it’s first love in pursuit of things that aren’t necessarily “after God’s own heart.” They referenced things like: structures, systems, vision statements, financial reports, and groups at the top who hold onto authority and power. A few minutes into this back and forth, this person made the comment: “the church looks more like an institution to me, with an establishment, goals and objectives, and less like the movement Jesus led.”

I have to be a little honest here: That had me thinking. Even if it may be accurate in some instances, in some examples, in some places and spaces; it surely is not true everywhere, in each situation, in every church. How do I know this? Because God’s Church is His answer to a lost and dying world that desperately needs the Gospel. The Church is the body of Christ, a city on a hill, a royal priesthood that has been called out of darkness into His marvelous light. He charged the Church to go into all the world, and He stated in no uncertain terms, that He would be with us even until the end of the world (again: Matthew 28).

I believe if we “seek first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness,” that it will all fall into place as long as we lean on Him to provide and sustain us. Who do we need to be? What do we need to do? We need to surrender to God! We need to be available and willing to go, to learn, to serve, and to work. We need to allow God to do His part and we need to be faithful in doing ours.

When our priorities are aligned with God’s…when all of that has been fleshed out and made new, I just believe we can trust that He will keep our actions, our motives, and our purposes in the right place. The Church is an essential, necessary, living movement that is called to give Jesus away. The Church is a people in communion and fellowship with God and with one another, who take the mission passionately and with great urgency. The Church is you and I, and despite any establishment or ulterior motive that some may in fact have, with God’s help, we can move the mission forward in spite of it. We must.

The conversation will continue. We agreed that day that it wasn’t going to just end there. I now look forward to it. But believe me, there are many out there who have a similar mindset and position. Some are in your sphere of influence. People who have been hurt by churches and church-people, whether recently or decades ago. People who have questions in a day/time where faith seems to be on trial and skeptics come out of the woodwork. People who try to seek excuses and reasons to stay at arms-length from making a decision that will change the course of their life, forever. Let’s seize this God-given opportunity to give truth away…to give Jesus away…to truly be The Church for His glory! 

Blessings and peace.


A Sent People

We are on the verge of a New Series, starting this Sunday, May 26, 2019: “A Movement of God Through the People of God!” While this is a new focus that has been launched through our Global Ministry Center, it really does tie in beautifully with what God has been leading us in since the beginning of 2019.

Yes, we are a sent people! Jesus states it clearly in John 20: “Peace be with you. As the Father has sent Me, I am sending you.” Sometimes it’s easier to neglect it. Other times it may be simple to avoid it. On other occasions, sitting and listening seems to be enough. But the reality is: We are a sent people! There is no negotiation. We must go! The questions arises in my heart/soul: If not us, who? If not now, when? 

So this Series is being custom-crafted for what God is calling us to do, in this action-oriented command. It is our part and it certainly helps define Who We Are. I/we invite you to come and join us on this God ordained, Jesus led, Spirit filled journey. Without giving to much away, let me just encourage you that you will be built up, encouraged, and yes, probably challenged – to find a place to help us “work out what God has worked in” (in the words of Oswald Chambers).  But really, what is the alternative? To do nothing? To avoid it? To neglect or overlook the command of Jesus?

No one has to do everything. No one can. But everyone can do something. There is a place for you here: a place where you can believe, belong, and become. A place where you and yours can call “home”. A place where you can worship and plug in to the community. A place where you can serve for the glory of God and impact lives.

Join us this Sunday 5-26-19 (Memorial Day Weekend) for the launch. 10 am right here at Bridgeway Church (100 Lockhart Drive, Beaufort, NC). Visit us online to learn more: www.bridgewaync.org. May God bless you, and give you peace!



Practical Application

Yesterday we finished up a 4-week mini-series on the concept and mandate of biblical, Christ-filled unity. Coming off the Advent and Christmas Season and entering straight into a new year is an encouraging, exciting, and yet, exhausting period of time for many people.

With the holiday celebrations over and with school and work back to some level of normalcy, the cold, wintry January days can seem long. Debt is a little higher, savings are a bit lower, waists may have expanded a tad, and the resolutions for the new year may have already been voided out. Statistically, about 60% of people who list at least one resolution admit that before January closes out – it has been given up on.

With all of this as a pretty consistent history, God delivered to us a focus on unity throughout January, and within our 4-week expedition, He revealed quite a bit. Most importantly, however, is His presence with us. I really sensed all month long, with others who just seemed to confirm it, that His presence was especially close. Yesterday (that being Sunday, January 27), there were scores of comments and confirmations that really collaborated it all. In short, we determined: Our hearts and His house was full of the Holy Spirit. 

I sensed that unity, in Him, opened up the opportunity for His presence to saturate in a way that not only welcomed Him but gave Him complete access. Unity does this. Unity accomplishes this. And even in the things where we might have differences of opinion or personal preference, when we lay them down to be unified, it shows that we take His mantles of “unity in the body” and “unity as the bond of love” passionately, seriously, and with zeal.

Encountering this…experiencing this…being a part of this can only happen and will only happen when we, as His Church, intentionally decide to put His will first and follow His purposes. It happens when the Church is the Church, on mission! It happens when we, in spite of ourselves, seek to bring glory and honor to Him.

  • We can have differences.
  • We should celebrate diversity.

But when it comes to unity, we must lay it down for the sake of love. And out of the love for Christ and for one another, unity will prevail. It is the byproduct of that love.

May the Lord continue to move us, at Bridgeway Church, into unity at deeper levels. I am prayerfully looking forward to what it is He has in store for us into February, and beyond. I believe we are on the threshold of something very enlightening, very engaging, and very eternal. Join us, if you haven’t already. Be in prayer. Seek the Lord. Help us to be unified in love.


Unity, a Great Convincer

Yesterday, the Lord led us to look at unity as one of the great convincing testimonies for the church. Sure, there are others: forgiveness, grace, joy, and love (to name a few). But in our current series on “Unity,” the focus was on this mandate seen throughout the Word of God.

A church, a community, a people unified under God, on mission for His purpose, will have a lasting impact on the culture and world when they seek and find oneness. This is evident at so many levels and in countless ways.

In these past 3 weeks, we’ve gleaned Ephesians 4, Psalm 133, and 1 Corinthians 1 to see how unity has played a critical role with God’s people, in His Church, and in accomplishing His will on earth. In our Wednesday evening Colony Gatherings, this season, we are in a study called, “Be My Witnesses!” – a journey through Acts. Here, we have witnessed firsthand the living testimony of the church in the earliest days. They were on board with God’s mission and they invested in the work. Not only that, they were committed to doing life together.

Here at Bridgeway, our heart is in line with that of our Lord. We desire to be poured out for His plan and purpose: here, in this region, and wherever He leads us. There are opportunities in ministry and in mission, and together, we can accomplish so much more than we could ever do apart. There is space and a definite place for you here.

In this way, we are surely better together, always!

Unity is a great convincer!


Impacting Others

One of the many papers I wrote, in the 3rd year of my Master of Divinity program surrounded a theme that had a tremendous amount of practical relevancy to it. The class was Church History II: From the Reformation to the Modern Day, and the paper was a major portion of the final grade.

My, my…those paper writing, mid-term/final exam, 4-5 hours of study and research each evening and night while working full-time, raising a family, going to church, nights and weekend class – days. For me, it took 6 years to complete the 90 credit hours, acquiring field and life experience, and going through approval for degree confirmation. I loved the process and I was blessed in how it equipped and trained me.

Back to this one class though: My paper for this course centered around much of what we face, today, in a very individually, inward focused world.

I mean look around, you don’t have to look far at all to see how deeply people love their own preferences. People occasionally ask me how I know this to be true, and I will respond, “Because I live and breathe.”

Some share their preferences non-stop. And many aren’t hesitant, at all, to let you know what they are.

There are millions of ways to custom-tailor your life to perfectly suit your every preference. When times get rough, or even a little uncertain – many think very little of pulling away from responsibilities. A growing number will completely reorient their life from whatever causes even a hint of inconvenience. This extends to something as central, and needed, and purposeful as our commitment to the Lord and to His local church.

All who are connected to the local church, each genuine Christ-follower, has witnessed people (sometimes family, other times close friends, and even co-workers and neighbors) waiver and wonder in their commitment. Maybe at one time we were that wanderer ourselves. The fact is: It is very personal and up close.

Other times, we have had to extend a call, a hand, a note, in order to encourage someone back into connection, fellowship, participation, and worship. And is often the case, we will often pull out one or two of our “go to passages” from Scripture. There are several that are extracted from many segments of the New Testament that are cited, quoted, and used.

One of the more acclaimed is found in Hebrews, chapter 10. It is here, in vv.24-25 where we are told to warn of the danger of “neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some…” We insist that those who neglect to participate in the local church will encounter spiritual temptation, spiritual decline, and even spiritual death. And while all of this is true, it is not the key principle of the passage. In fact, when we use the passage in this way, we are not displaying the divine urgency behind the text, but our own deep-rooted individualism.

Here is what Hebrews 10:24-25 states, in its full contextualization and meaning: “And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.”

This passage does, indeed, warn of the serious consequences of skipping out on church, but its focus is not what we might expect through our Western, individualized eyes and minds. This passage does not warn us that when we skip church we put ourselves at risk. Rather, it warns us that when we skip church we put other people at risk. You see, the root here is neglecting the needs of others…which means, we don’t demonstrate our love for God, or for them, correctly. And even worse, we show complete disregard for the Bride of Christ: the church.

Gathering with God’s people is not first about being blessed, but it is about being a blessing. It’s not first about getting, but it’s about giving.

As we come together for things like Worship, The Colonies, ministry opportunities, training and workshops, for outreach opportunities, our first consideration should be “how to stir up one another to love and good works.” We should approach Sunday deliberately, eager to do good to others, to be a blessing to them, to give things away – including ourselves.

In those times we feel our passion or zeal is fading (even a bit), when we feel the temptation to skip out on a Sunday or withdraw altogether, we should consider our God-given responsibility to encourage “one another, and all the more as you see the Day of the Lord drawing near.” This text is not about us, but about them. This text is not for Christian individuals but Christian communities.

And, of course, our commitment to the local church is far more than a commitment to Sunday morning services.

  • It is a commitment to other people through all of life.
  • It is a commitment to worship with them; then, to connect and fellowship with them, to serve them, and to pray for them all throughout the week. That is the mantle of DISCIPLESHIP.
  • It is to bind ourselves together in a covenant in which we promise to do good to them, to make them the special object of our attention and encouragement. It is where we can know and where we can be known.
  • It is to promise that we will identify and deploy our spiritual gifts for their benefit so we can serve them, strengthen them, and bless them.

Every Christian has a place within the local church. Every Christian is needed within a local church. Every Christian has responsibilities within a local church. Every Christian is to commit to the members of a local church and to love them, to encourage them, and to stir them up in zeal until the day of Christ’s return.

This has to happen…this must happen…even when our preferences are not met.

Are we considering the needs of others? Are we allowing ministry to happen to people who are not as familiar with faith than we are?

The church must be a place that reaches the unsaved and disciples the saved. The church must be more of a hospital…a clinic…a growing, working, community center than it is a museum, a venue, or a morgue. May God grant us favor and power as we seek to be and further become this, for His glory!