What difference does the gospel make?

On April 1st 2012 we launched the weekly worship gatherings of The Embassy Church. We are missionaries to the Denver metro area and we have started by engaging the communities that fall within a 5-mile radius of City Park. As missionaries we exegete the community and its residence; we want and need to know who they are and what they see when they look at the world around them. We must know this so we can know how to give them a Gospel saturated view of the world. What would it look like if the Gospel of Christ permeated this community? How would they be impacted if a Kingdom agenda were on full display here? How would their lives be affected if God were famous in this city?

Accepting the Reality

These questions struck me to my core when one of our Embassy team members made me aware of a young man that had been murdered near a High School on Denver’s “East Side.” The school is less than two miles from my home and he invited me to attend a vigil that was intended to minister to the hurts of the community. I accepted his invitation and intentionally disappeared into the crowd. I paid close attention to the countenance of those in attendance. IT WAS HEART WRENCHING! As I looked around I found myself struggling with the look of acceptance on the faces of children. The reality of a mother grieving the loss of her son is becoming routine for them. If there is no change they will grow accustomed to the heartache that this reality triggers. There was a little girl standing near the grieving family and she so reminded me of my own daughter that I am certain that I will never forget her. She was the only child that I witnessed crying uncontrollably. I stared at her for moments on end and it dawned on me that she is in the early stages of accepting the reality. She had not become hardened and this experience was still a shock to her young spirit. Leaders from the community stepped to a megaphone and they assured this little girl and the crowd around her that it does not have to be this way and we can graduate from such a violent assault against the community. I am not a pessimist. I wholeheartedly agree with them; it does NOT have to be this way! There can be change! But I left the vigil unsettled because many of the grievers do not know how this change can come about.

The Blessing of Hopelessness

I see that little girl’s face all over my community now. More to the point, I see the hopelessness that she now represents for me. Often when I discuss what it means to restore this community I get looks of futility. But therein lies the blessing. They have legitimately accepted the fact that they cannot change the circumstances. And I want to state emphatically that they are correct when they assume that they are powerless to do anything! Man’s unilateral attempt at restoration is a cheap Band-Aid at best! In light of this, our hopelessness is a virtue. Our hopelessness paves the way for surrender. Our surrender is the foundation upon which the Gospel is built. The Gospel is the God ordained means of restoring a community…and a city…and a state…and a country…and the world (John 3:16)!

Idolizing the Byproduct

When I say “Gospel” please do not find yourself bound by the bondage of church traditions that have pigeonholed such a great word. We have so demoted the Gospel that now it is merely the means by which we can avoid hell. This is quintessential pride on man’s part. We made ourselves the center of God’s plan. This is the greatest possible display of theological reductionism. Does the Gospel save you from hell? Yes it does. But that is merely a symptom. We are guilty of idolizing the Gospel’s byproduct!!! Jesus did not die so that you could avoid hell; he died so that you may have God! The Gospel of Christ is the means by which God’s restorative grace is going to permeate all of creation. The cosmos relishes in the opportunity to rest at his feet. Christ’s death restores all that is broken and it brings all things back to him. God is the center of the plan.

The Commission of the Hopeless

For me, the most baffling part of this is found in the fact that God has decided to use hopeless men and women to be the vessels of this Gospel. In 2nd Corinthians 5:20 Paul reminds us of our office, our need for surrender, and the nature of our message.

1) If you are in Christ you have been ordained to the office of Ambassador. You represent the King! Consequently, your words, actions, and ambitions have meaning. Fear, while very real, is no longer a hinderer because you do not speak for yourself; you speak on behalf of the sovereign sender. As King, Christ is the possessor of “all authority in heaven and on earth” (Matthew 28:18). And in his peculiar wisdom he has seen fit to place the seal of that authority on you. As you declare the Gospel you can do so with boldness because you speak with an authority that is otherworldly.

2) If you are a disciple of Christ you have committed to surrendering every area of you life to his lordship. This is essential, as he has decided that he is going to make his appeal through you. As a man, I stand hopeless and destitute in the face of the community’s heartache. But this is my greatest strength; it moves me out of God’s way as he put’s himself on display in his city.

3) The church is the commissioned arbiter of the Gospel (Matthew 16:19). And through us he publishes the “message of reconciliation.” By this, Paul is referring to the fact that the Church has a message that “makes things otherwise” (ἀλλάσσω). We do not have to accept things as they are because we are the voices, hands, and feet of the Gospel. And when the Gospel comes to bear on a city fruit is inevitable. Don’t miss that! The Church is the God ordained front runner in matters of restoration. Elected officials, eduators, para-church organizations, and community leaders should, by God’s grace, supplement the impact that we are making; it should not be the other way around. We are the voices of the ‘message of reconciliation.’ As his ambassadors we are licensed to ‘make things otherwise!’

I often think of that little girl and I pray that God will grant me the privilege of seeing her again some day. If so, I will lay on her words that I should have shouted through the crowd on the day of the vigil. I will share with her the Gospel in its entirety. He did not die simply so you could avoid punishment; he died so that you may have Him, your exceeding joy (Psalm 43:4). I will inform her that God, by way of the Cross, has purchased her entrance into his presence. I will inform her of the fact that the Gospel destroys her despair. I will tell her to embrace her hopelessness; enjoy the privilege of surrender. I will ask her to join me as a messenger of reconciliation in our neighborhood. God’s Gospel has purchased the restoration of the community. And through us he will publish this message.

Brandon

Striving toward Kingdom Community and Discipleship,
www.theembassy.org

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The Church that cannot fail

Recently I had a conversation with a dear friend in which he tried his best to convince me that I should NOT plant a church.  He loves me and he knows me well so he came to our conversation with a remarkable grasp of the pertinent statistics and he had clearly systematized his argument.  He pounded the table emphatically as he rehearsed the results of his research.  He even went so far as to prepare a handwritten manuscript from which he read carefully.  I recall three of his nine points because I had heard them before and they were the most memorable:

  • In America, 3500 — 4000 churches close their doors each year.
  • Every month 1,400 pastors leave the ministry due to moral failure or burnout.
  • 10,000 churches in America disappeared in the last five-years.

I must admit that I had to bring myself back into the conversation because I was thrown by the fact that a scholarly statistician sincerely described the fate of churches by using the word “disappeared.”  I have no idea what that means.  It teased the dreamer in me and sent me on a mental rabbit trail that included everything from “The Rapture” to “Invasion of the Body Snatchers.”  After a few moments on the trail I came back into the conversation to ask, “Why are you telling me this?”  His response was serious, loving, and passionate.  “Don’t plant a church Brandon.  This is a bad season for such a venture.  The economy has tanked and your family will suffer senselessly.”  His impassioned plea snapped me out of my jovial mood.  Up to this moment I was only partially engaged in the conversation because I was mentally organizing an “all points bulletin” for those churches that have “disappeared.”  Recognizing the need to engage him according to his serious tone I shelved my mental rabbit trail and responded to him appropriately.  I said, “You need to understand what we are dealing with here.  I don’t just WANT to plant a church; I HAVE to plant it.  It is a matter of calling.  The core value, rhythms, and distinctives of The Embassy Church have been placed on my heart.  I love you brother, but to follow your impassioned advice would be an act of rebellion against my God.”

Then the nature of our conversation shifted to a more comfortable point.  He asked, “If you are going to do this, then how do you handle the likelihood of failure?”  My answer was simple, “It will not fail.”  For fear of sounding arrogant I will take this moment to deflect attention to the authoritative originator of this idea.  I sincerely believe that it will not fail because Jesus said, “And I tell you…on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of hades shall not prevail against it (Matthew 16:18).  The passage screams certainty!  When you assess it closely you notice that it becomes even more worthy of celebration.  The three questions that jump out at me are:

1)   Whose church is it?

2)   Who is the builder?

3)   What is his promise regarding the church?

1) The Church belongs to Christ.  I am not erecting a building, starting a legacy, or striving toward my fame.  Instead, it is my hope and prayer that I, along with my Embassy teammates, am being used as a tool in his hands to plant HIS church.  A gathering of people that love, celebrate, adore, and worship Him.  We are Christ-centered because Christ is Christ-centered.  It is our desire to join him in the mission of planting churches that make God famous!  I am his and the church is his.  Now the question we must answer is simple.  If the church belongs to the Living God, then who can take it away?  Hopefully you can now understand how I stumbled over the use of the word “disappeared.”  God’s church is not comprised of buildings and programs.  It is comprised of people that recognize him as supreme in all things.  And those people joyfully strive toward having his image and kingdom permeate all of creation.  They do so by making disciples (Matthew 28:18-20).  Yes, buildings may be closing.  But the gathering of believers that comprise the church cannot and will not “disappear.”

2) Christ is the builder.  The Cross is the epicenter of all that must be done to build the Church.  It gives meaning to words like justification and sanctification.  He died so that we may have him, and he died so that we may live surrendered lives for him.   Because of the cross we have significance and mission.  Our lives can and should reflect this.  As the sacrificial “Lamb of God,” Jesus is the architect, carpenter, engineer, and artist that designs, builds, and ornaments his church.  This all came out of the Cross.  Why is this significant?  By dying on the cross, Jesus has done the heavy lifting.  We are simply the messengers.  We are not the builders of churches; Jesus is!  Which presents a question.  If Jesus is the builder of the Church, then who can stop him?  Don’t waste your time processing the answer.  There is no one that can stop him.  He has no peer; there is no one who can oppose his plan (Isaiah 40:12-31).  Rest assured, God is the builder, so it will most certainly be built.

3) He has promised that the Church will never die.  He assured us that the gates of Hades shall not prevail against her.  Some Bibles translate the word Hades as “Hell.”  But I wholeheartedly affirm the teaching that Hades and Hell are not one and the same.  Hades simply refers to the place of the departed dead.[1]  It is a symbol of death.  Essentially, Jesus is saying that the Church will never be found in death’s abode.  The Church will always be a living, impactful, tool in the hands of Christ.  Christ is the only hope for the redemption of souls.  He is the only means toward healthy schools, homes, marriages, businesses, etc.  And he has chosen to use the Church to accomplish this.  Because the Church is his ordained means of redeeming the world and making himself famous, I rest assured of the fact that she will never die.

This passage is not referring to the local church.  It is referring to the universal church; the body of Christ that is represented all over the world.  So how is it appropriate for me to use it as my confidence that our local body will not fail?  Well, I will be an Embassador (2nd Cor. 5:20) for the rest of my life.  If The Embassy Church implodes, I am still a representative of his Kingdom.  I take joy in the fact that my hope is not found in the existence of a local church.  Instead my hope is found in what he is going to accomplish through His worldwide church.  If our local mission is simply the contextualized version of his worldwide mission, then I have no concerns about failure.  We have not been commissioned to make attenders and fill buildings.  That may fail.  No matter what name is on the sign outside the building, I am charged with making disciples.  And that will not fail!!!

Brandon

Striving toward Kingdom Community and Discipleship,
The Embassadors
www.theembassy.org


[1] Marvin Vincent in his classic work “Word Studies in the New Testament” says, “The classical Hades embraced both good and bad men, though divided into Elysium, the abode of the virtuous, and Tartarus, the abode of the wicked. In these particulars it corresponds substantially with Sheol; both the godly and the wicked being represented as gathered into the latter.”

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What is a “Disciple?” What is their core value?

We are in the process of launching a church in the Denver metro area.  The church is called “The Embassy.”  Our first gathering is only weeks away and every moment we become more aware of our heart’s greatest desire.  By God’s grace we strive toward making disciples in the city of Denver.  This desire did not originate with us.  The Universal Church has been commissioned to “Go…and make disciples…” But there is a need to clarify what we mean when we say “disciple.”  The word can seem nebulous and confusing.  It is imperative that we clarify what a disciple is because we are charged with making them.  So let’s present the question to ourselves.

What does The Embassy mean when we say, “disciple?”  What are we called to be and what are we calling people to?  Is there a way of appreciating discipleship that will allow us to know the core value of a disciple?  Our working definition is quite simple,  “A disciple is a person who is progressively growing toward surrendering every area of their life to the lordship of Jesus Christ.”  There are key words that are central to appreciating this definition:

1) Progressively,   2) Growing & Surrendering,   3) Every,   4) Lordship,   5) Jesus

“Progressively”

The word “progressively” highlights the fact that discipleship is not instantaneous.  In fact, it is a never-ending process.  The objective of the disciple is to grow in divine understanding and affection for a God who is immeasurably supreme in all things.  Because of the breadth and depth of God man will never exhaust this growth process.  Therefore, it is a progressive process.  Paul affirmed this when he spoke of the process in a never-ending present tense, “And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are BEING TRANSFORMED into the same image from one degree of glory to another” (2nd Cor. 3:18).  When a believer commits to being a disciple, they are not committing to reaching a finish line.  Instead, they are relishing and savoring the very process of “being transformed…from glory to glory…” for the rest of their lives.

“Growing and Surrendering”

It may be that the words “growing” and “surrendering” represent the facets of discipleship that give us the most trouble.  In western culture we have been taught to celebrate those that are persisters and achievers.  In both the academic and professional worlds we laud these traits as means to success.  If a person is self-reliant and independent, then we qualify them as leaders.  But for the disciple, growth leads to surrender.  As the disciple progressively grows toward God and develops a deeper affection for Him he/she surrenders, which makes for a willing vessel through whom God can act for His glory.  We become God-reliant; dependent on Him.  A disciple is showing growth when daily they turn to God and say, “Today I surrender to you.  Achieve holiness through me.  Glorify yourself in me.”  Again Paul affirms this idea when he says, “…for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure” (Phil. 2:13).  For the disciple, God does not cooperate toward holiness.  Instead, He operates alone.  He lives the Godly life through those that surrender themselves to Him.

“Every” and “Lordship”

For the disciple, God is not Lord over most things.  He is lord over EVERYthing.  So in surrendering the disciple holds nothing back.  There is no area of our lives in which he is not the focus.  He is Lord over our finances, children, relationships, homes, cars, jobs, sex lives, etc.  The list is not exhaustible. In a most benedictory manner Paul lauded this point by saying, “For from him and through him and to him are all things. To him be the glory forever” (Romans 11:36)!  God has no peer in that he is the sole source, means, and end of all creation. Everything exists for his glory!  To grow as a disciple means to see Him in His splendor and surrender every area of your life to His Lordship.

“Jesus Christ”

Discipleship is not unique to Christianity.  Everyone has either intentionally or unwittingly identified a person or idea as lord and in doing so has assumed the role of disciple.  Because of this it is essential for us to be specific when we identify the object of our discipleship.  Jesus is the Lord of whom we speak!  As God he is supreme in all things and worthy of our surrender, “…all things were created BY him and FOR him” (Colossians 1:16).  He is King of kings and the one toward whom the disciple’s heart is focused.  He has all authority in heaven and earth (Matthew 28:18).  He is, by definition, the one and only sovereign Master.

It is God’s objective to have his glory permeate all of creation.  He desires to make Himself famous; to put his glory on full display.  If he is central in our lives then we join him in the fulfillment of this objective.   It is our joyful core value because it is His core value.   Our approach to this is simple; “Go and make disciples.”  Add to the choir of voices that will live for Him and sing his praises.  That is the call of the disciple.  And by “disciple” we mean, “A person who is PROGRESSIVELY GROWING toward SURRENDERING EVERY area of their life to the LORDSHIP of JESUS Christ.

Brandon

Striving toward Kingdom Community and Discipleship,
The Embassadors
www.theembassy.org

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Our Vocabulary

In the past two weeks I have received two speaking invitations that came with the obligatory pre-conference interview.  The two conversations had something in common that I can’t help but address.  Both organizations had visited our website (www.theembassy.org), took note of our vocabulary, and asked me to define certain key terms.  It made me realize that we need to start a conversation (blog series) about Embassy’s glossary.  We will begin that series this week.  Why would we do this?  One’s working vocabulary reveals one’s values.  A common language is essential if we are going to spark a movement.

“Missional” is the word I have been asked to address most often.  I decided to post my definition here. Coincidentally, I came upon this video in which Jeff Vanderstelt defines “Missional” and he also answers some common questions that surround the word. I decided that he did such a good job of addressing it that I would post the video here and then unpack it in more detail as we begin this blog series.  Check it out the video. It is good stuff! Here’s the link – http://vimeo.com/21660618

In the next few weeks we will be unpacking the following terms:

Missional,  The Gospel,  The Church,  The Gathering,  The Building,  Redeem,  Missionary,  Disciple,  Missional Community,  The Story of God,  Kingdom,  Gospel Intentionality,  Gospel Fluency

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Why do we prioritize “Missional Communities?”

The prioritizing of smaller missional communities is a celebrated distinctive of The Embassy.  This in no way undermines the value of our larger gatherings; we recognize the need for the saints to gather for regular corporate worship.[1]  The large worship gathering is essential for vision casting, celebration, teaching, and corporate joy.  Medium groups (e.g. Bible study classes, culture and theology talks) are valuable for Q&A sessions and introduction to community.  But we have concluded that the mission of the church is best accomplished if our weekly gatherings supplement our smaller missional communities.  We have chosen this approach because we believe that missional communities lend themselves to community, mission, and discipleship.

Community

Acts 2:42-47 describes a scenario in which the body of Christ worshipped in large, public gatherings, “…attending the temple together…”  They also had communion and worshipped in smaller settings “…breaking bread in their homes…”  Smaller gatherings are conducive to the establishment of familial relationships and a community of believers that is knit together.  This allows for a ready display of encouragement and accountability. Edification of this sort is essential to the health and focus of the mission.

Missional Living

The Church is also called to be missional (Acts 1:8).  In other words, the body of Christ is called to live indigenously and engage the community in a contextualized manner.  We believe that missional communities allow for the mobilization and focus that is required when a group intends to live missionally.  The smaller communities are better suited to “doing life” and hearing one another’s stories.  These stories inevitably open a door to the Gospel.  In other words, missional communities lend themselves to Gospel driven justification and restoration.

Discipleship

The Church is also called to be a disciple making community (Matt 28:18-20).  While we recognize that the worship gathering is crucial, we contend that pulpit preaching is a necessary but insufficient means to disciple making.  Discipleship is best accomplished in the familial context that is common to smaller communities.  The large worship gathering is essential to corporate worship, teaching, exhortation, and vision casting.  But the intimacy of small groups lends itself to deeper relationships and, consequently, discipleship.  Our objective is to get the covenant members of The Embassy plugged into missional communities and allow for the organic transition to mentoring relationships (person to person or couple to couple).

To assume that our emphasis on small missional communities is intended to undermine the weekly corporate gathering would be a misunderstanding of this distinctive.  Instead, our objective is to have the body of believers live in integrated community, and then come together during the weekly worship gatherings to celebrate the community, missional living, and discipleship that has taken place in the smaller missional communities.

Brandon,

The Embassadors – Striving toward Kingdom Community and Discipleship,
www.theembassy.org


[1] We will gather for corporate worship on a weekly basis.

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Why Team Leadership?

The popular idea of leadership presents the picture of a person that is courageous and omni-competent.  The leader has no weaknesses and is able to take a group of people on their back and go on to victory.  However, both experience and reason undermine such an idea of leadership.  There is no leader who is competent in all areas, so to place such a responsibility on one individual is a disservice to both the leader and the mission.  With this in mind, we have concluded that teams of leaders (e.g. elder team, teaching team, staff teams, ambassador teams) will maximize our individual strengths, manage our individual weaknesses, and avoid the mistake of building the mission around one man.

First, we believe that a team of elders is the sole biblical presumption in matters of church governance.  Consequently, all macro-leadership will be carried out by a team of biblically astute, integritous elders.  Second, while we concede that in matters of micro-leadership the Bible does not necessarily present operating in teams as an imperative, we hold that it is a definite liberty as it was modeled by men like Moses (Ex. 18:13-27) and Paul (Acts 13:1).    We have concluded that team leadership is a wise choice as it:

  • Avoids the celebrity leader tendency
  • Encourages authentic community, accountability, and edification
  • Minimizes the ministry burden on each church leader by spreading it out among teammates
  • Combines complimenting strengths and manages weaknesses
  • Provides a pool of ideas from which wise decisions can be drawn

We concede that leading in this manner can at times be slower and more complex.  But we believe the benefits far outweigh the complexities which can be overcome if we model patience, persevering prayer, wisdom, self-control, humility, trust, and genuine respect for the gifts of others in the body of Christ.

Our approach to this will mobilize teams in three different categories:

  • First, the mission will be guarded by a team of elders.  The elder team is responsible for vision casting and macro-level leadership decisions.  While we do have a directional leader or “captain” of the elder team, The Embassy does not have a “Senior Pastor.”  As the directional leader, Brandon Washington is captain of this team; the first among equals (primus inter pares).  But we want to be very clear on the fact that he is NOT the leader of the church; the elder team leads the church.
  • Second, daily missional management will be guided by our staff teams.  These teams address the operational responsibilities of the mission and assist in mobilizing the missional communities.
  • Third, our Missional Communities are gifted by our ambassador teams.  They will be the front line when it come to engaging one another and the city around us.  They are central to mission, community, and mobilization.

We hope to be the 1st Corinthians 12 church, recognizing that we are designed to be a diverse and complimentary body of believers.  We believe that a team model will best fulfill this objective.

Brandon,

Striving toward Kingdom Community and Discipleship,
The Embassadors
www.theembassy.org

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Can INefficiency be a virtue?

Currently I am in Tacoma, WA with one of my Embassy teammates, Derrick Kelsey. We are attending a great training gathering known as Soma School. We are here to process how they execute missional community and Gospel-centered gatherings because it is similar to what we are striving toward in Denver via a new church called The Embassy. I will go into more detail about what we are learning after we have completed our time here, but I had to take this moment to point out one of their cultural norms. They put a cap on the number of people that can attend; they try to limit it to about thirty people. This is in direct contrast to the conference practices that I am accustomed to. Usually one wants to have as many attenders as possible so more people can hear what the experts are saying. But Soma’s approach places a premium on community. They have concluded that living in community during Soma School is essential to appreciating what they mean when they discuss “missional community.” In fact, they arranged for us to stay in the home of two young men that are members of the church (Soma Communities) instead of a hotel because they want for us to experience community while we are here. I also want to point out that the conference is 7 days long! Instead of having the typical plenary sessions with star preachers for 2-3 days, we are involved in dialogical teaching that requires our involvement and interaction. I do not want you to read this and think I am arguing against large conference gatherings; that is not my intention. I am trying to emphasize the fact that Soma School is slow, intentional, long, meticulous, and unrushed. If I had to give their approach a label, it would be Virtuously Inefficient. They are executing what we believe to be the sole approach to biblical discipleship. By definition, discipleship is INefficient.

Is it a bad word?

In our culture the words “INefficient” and “INefficiency” are considered pejorative terms. We are taught to drive toward the achievement of a goal without distraction. To not approach a process efficiently is considered unwise, lazy, or even shiftless. But we want to challenge that idea. What if a process is inherently INefficient? Wouldn’t approaching it in an efficient manner in fact undermine the process and cause one to miss the benefits of moving slowly? Under such circumstances wouldn’t INefficiency become a virtue and efficiency becomes a vice?

But what if…?

I once heard a friend reflect back on the vacations he would take with his family. Every summer they chose to drive from Texas to the North-East United States so they could visit the grandparents. They chose to drive, instead of flying, because it would allow the family to see the country and spend quality time together while on their way to the destination. But the father had a competitive streak in him so he had a secondary, hidden goal. He was racing against himself; he wanted to get to the grandparent’s house in a time that was faster than that of previous years. And in spite of the steps that were taken to allow his family to see the country, the father allowed the secondary goal, a fast travel time, to become the primary goal. Because of this, he would not stop along the way! He would simply point out the sites and landscape as he drove by. He would choose the shortest route as to avoid wasting too much time. This did not allow for detours to show his children the historic landmarks that were a few miles off the ordained path. In addition to that, he would drive 10-12 hours a day. This exhausted him and made him irritable; unpleasant to be around. When they stopped for the day he would only want to sleep so he could recover and get ready for tomorrow’s drive. One can say that his plan was efficient, but was it virtuous? One must only look at the primary goal to get the answer to that question. If it was to spend quality time with his family while traveling, then his approach, while efficient, was unwise.

But what if the father had chosen the INefficient route? What if he gave little or no regard to the strict timing of the trip? What if he stopped along the way to rest and enjoy the sites with his family? If he had done this it would have taken longer to arrive at his destination but his children would have been blessed by the trip and they would have celebrated the process. This would be INefficient, but it would have been the virtuous approach. Since the primary objective is to show them the sights and spend time with them, the trip is inherently INefficient. To deviate from the inherent nature of the trip would undermine the trip entirely.

Focussing on and celebrating the process

Culturally, the western church has adopted a quick achiever mentality. We focus on the destination at the expense of the process. Sadly, this has become our approach to discipleship. But if we were to pause and assess the discipleship process we would appreciate the fact that it is inherently INefficient. There is no end to it; it is always in the present tense. Paul asserts this when he says, “And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another. For this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit.” (2nd Cor. 3:18) Paul says that we are BEING transformed. No one can look back at the day it happened and we can’t look forward to the day when it will be absolutely complete. The process of being conformed to the image of the supreme Son of God is a delightful and never ending one; never in the past, always in the present. This means that discipleship is, by definition, a virtuously INefficient process. Consequently, we don’t focus on the end; we focus on the exceedingly joyful process. Our attention should be on what God takes us through as he conforms us to the image of Christ, and we are to pause and celebrate every moment of that process. Is this the inefficient thing to do? Yes, but we contend that it is Virtuous INefficiency. For this reason, we at The Embassy celebrate Virtuous INeffficiency as one of our Rhythms.

Brandon,

Striving toward Kingdom Community and Discipleship,
The Embassadors
www.theembassy.org

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