Thursday, July 29, 2010

Block Party: What it is and isn't... Is it a waste of time?

This last month one of our missional LifeGroups hosted "block parties" in a couple of apartment complexes in town. It was loads of fun, especially for the kids. It was simple and inexpensive (we set up a big tarp and made a massive slip-n-slide and had hot dogs, chips and ice cream cones) and the kids loved it. One little 7 year old boy liked it so much that as we were packing up he said with tears in his eyes, "Are you coming back tomorrow night"? What was it that is so fun that makes a little boy cry? And the bigger question, "what's the point?", and "did it really help?"

I was raised in the old school. In the old school what was important was not that you 'give a cup of cold water', but that you 'give it in Jesus name'. And in the old school that meant with every 'random act of kindness' you either had to give a gospel booklet or had to preach the gospel to make your act of kindness legit. It never occurred to me how offensive this was and flat out wrong until we started living a missional life. When you become a missionary in your own city the people there become well, people, not projects or notches on your evangelism belt, etc. Let me explain.

I want you to imagine for a second your regular life. Your daughter asks you if a friend can come over to spend the night. Do you put a gospel tract by her plate or sing and preach to her before she leaves. You are going to the zoo and your kids invite friends to come along. "Well we have to preach during lunch at the zoo". You're going to the movie... you get the point. Well let me ask the obvious question: Why can't we just have fun in the mission field without the presentation? My kids' friends and I have had wonderful conversations about our Lord and our relationship with him. Some have met Christ, others not yet. But I have never conditioned my interaction with them on a 'gospel presentation'.

Am I ashamed of the gospel? Have I put my hope in something else? Do I think a slip-n-slide will save them? Of course not. As the 'oldy but goody' says, My hope is built on nothing less than Jesus blood and righteousness. Isn't there ample time in a protracted relationship to share life and faith. Of course there is. But that is the rub isn't it? The reason we have to stuff a tract in the food basket, preach at every event or have the 'roaming EE trained evangelist' staged as stealth operatives in the crowd is that we have no intention of having a relationship with 'those guys'.

And that's what makes missonal life different. That's why we can have a guilt free fun party and soak the kids down and listen to their squeals of delight and be touched by their tears when we leave. Because we will be back, day by day, week by week sharing the hope that lies within us in so many ways.

I loved that little boys tears and oh by the way, we baptized his daddy last month.


2 - read/write comments:

Anne Allen said...

The best thing I've read in a long time. Thank you!

Deb Bonds said...

I was in the audience of the 'graduation' last night and was blessed to hear you speak. And now I am 'tracking' you on this internet...LOL God led me to the 'building' and I hope he keeps me there. I have no outward addictions that the world would categorize as 'addictions', but still have some things I need to deal with myself, thru God's help and mercy.
Bless you for taking the time to write this about your 'fun adventure' with the children...I, too, had tears in my eyes while reading it, and especially felt blessed when I read the last sentence.
God keep you in His mighty and powerful hand and let you continue to serve him in the way you have saw fit to do. No matter how we 'speak' of His mercy, the message will still come through loud and clear!
God be with you always!
Deb Bonds

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