I see that we are largely surrounded by one of two mindsets in our current culture. First, we find ourselves around a churched culture of those who find comfort and perceived righteousness through church attendance and involvement. These are people who attend church but are not being transformed by a growing relationship with Jesus Christ. Second, we come into contact with those who do not want to hear about our ‘religion.’ This second group of people are those who would not find themselves attending a church or pursuing any sort of righteousness through church involvement.
I find that we more often see those who fit into the first mold around our Katy community. However, that is constantly changing. As we continue to find ourselves blessed by a community marked with cultures from around the world we also find new views towards spirituality. I love this about our community. Some years ago I did some research which indicated that the Asian population was the fastest growing segment of our population. I am not sure if that continues to be true today or not. I love this for so many different reasons. I believe that God created beautifully around the world and the symbols and people of those cultures are a picture of how incredible it will be to gather as the global Church before God after Christ’s final return.
With this growing melting pot of cultures comes a missionary mindset that must be changing for people who are following Jesus and pursuing faithful obedience to His call on our lives to go and tell of his great life, death, and resurrection. George Hunter offers a very succinct comparison of how a change in philosophy was applied in a Celtic culture. Hunter characterizes a Roman Model of being on mission as presentation, decision, and fellowship. This probably sounds very familiar to you because it has been the predominant method of the modern church for a great number of years. After studying the way the Celtic people lived out their spirituality, he characterizes a Celtic Model as fellowship, ministry and conversations, belief, and invitation to commitment.
We could easily throw the baby out with the bath water here, as many have, and dismiss the first approach as inappropriate in our current culture. That would be an awful mistake. I see a both/and between these two ideas. We live in a day in which people like to be involved in ‘good’ things. We live in a day in which people are increasingly being starved of real relationships. These are the ideas that Hunter saw the Celtic people leveraging in order to share with people the great joys of knowing Jesus Christ.
I would encourage you to see that often times the greatest gospel gift you can give someone is to know them and care for them authentically. Not that you would care for them at the exclusion of speaking the gospel, but rather caring for them in a way that allows them to see that the gospel really is the most important thing in your life rather than just hearing you talk about it.
So maybe the first steps in our desire to love people well could be taking a meal or cookies to a neighbor going through a crisis… or maybe just a neighbor we have not yet had the opportunity to meet. What if we began by getting to know someone and then allowing them to really get to know us, so they see a home committed to follow Jesus amidst our own sinfulness rather than just some preachy words which often find us in a place of hypocrisy?
Where are the environments God has placed you in which you could authentically love and listen to those who surround you?
Matt Powell serves as teaching pastor at Crossings Community Church, a body of believers whose mission is to engage, equip, and empower homes for gospel transformation in Katy, TX.