Monday, December 3, 2012

Silver and Gold Have I None

You know the story, Peter and John meet this crippled guy asking for money at the Temple gate. They say to him, "Silver and gold have I none but such as I have I give to you, in the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth  rise up and walk."

There is a real problem in helping folks.  Many Christians want to help but don't know how.  Somebody asks for money but you're afraid they're gonna use the money for the wrong things and if they do, you haven't helped. So, over time we just don't do anything 'cause we don't know what to do.

Peter and John solved the problem without using money. They got the guy back on his feet! By getting him on his feet he didn't need to beg anymore because he could work.  There is a great lesson in helping people in this passage and it is the core value of our FAITH housing ministry (link).  Get people back on their feet.

Family after family come to us asking for silver and gold. What we do instead (in the name of Jesus) is get them back on their feet.  And yes, that does take silver and gold and checks and money orders. But by helping people get back on their feet, we take them out of begging for silver and gold all the time to where they can stand on their own, now not needing the financial assistance.

When someone comes to you asking for money, ask God to help you to see how to get them back on their feet.  In the last two years we have helped over 25 families who came to us having just lost their jobs and homes, many deep in debt with fines and past bills, having lost much including hope.  They thought that the quick relief of the most pressing bill at the time was the answer.  Instead, over time (usually not as long as they think), we get their feet back underneath them.

Once stabilized, they pay their own bills, with their heads held high not their hands held out. And they address some core issues, mostly spiritual, that really do put them on the Solid Ground who is our Lord Jesus.  Friends, our Lord stands ready to strengthen the weak. Many times we leave them weak by giving them something that Bandaids a problem rather than solves it.

Christian, you CAN help. Get 'em back on their feet.


Thursday, November 29, 2012

Your Client Isn't You

We constantly ask ourselves a simple question at Crosswind, "Are we turning inward?"  Another way to state it is this, "Are we spending all of our time and talent and treasure on us?"  Have we become our own client?

It's budget time. There's no clearer check on whether 'we are who we say we are' than to look at our budget.
  • How much did we spend on us?  How much did we spend on them?  
  • How much of our staff did we hire for us? How many for them?
  • How many of our programs are for us? How many for them?
  • How many of our Bible classes are for us? How many for them?
It's really simple. We have made a commitment for our client to be our broken neighbor and not to become ourselves. To that end we budget, hire, plan and organize.  

When I was a traditional church pastor we hired music guys, for us. We hired youth guys, for our youth. We hired program coordinators, to design programs for us. We enlisted volunteers from us and for us. We enlisted Bible teachers for us and our kids. We used almost all our money on us, almost all our volunteers on us and almost all our talents on us. 

"I will very gladly spend and be spent for your souls" - Paul, 2 Cor 12:15

The Crosswind model (some call a missional model) is to spend ourselves and be spent for others and not just for us.  We surely take care of each other. We have a portion of our budget and staff and volunteer time and programs for us. We love each other and want to ensure each other is healthy and whole. But most of all the above goes to them.

Practically it goes like this: Last month we had "dinner on the grounds" twice, but it was their grounds, in their parking lot, by us for them.  We have children's ministry every week, but it's for their children, by us for them. We hired four of the six of our staff... you get it, for them.  Four of our staff have nothing to do with caring for the saints in the fellowship, their entire job is to care for the broken neighbor.  

It simple, we believe Jesus meant it when he said " leave the ninety-nine in the wilderness, and go after the one which is lost until he finds it..."  Sometimes we feel that whole wilderness thing too.  I had a dear pastor friend ask me one time if I wasn't neglecting the sheep, "Neglect them? Jesus said leave them in the wilderness! I don't think we're doing that yet." Ha!  Really though, our families have sacrificed some of the cool programs and things that others spend time, talent and treasure on. But it's because we believe God has called us to them, not us.

It's budget time, time to see if we're still on track. Time to check and see who our client is.

And it better not be us.


Wednesday, October 31, 2012

You've Gotta be Present to Win

Recently we had scheduled some time to engage with our friends in the community and I became aware of a schedule conflict with a very important forum in our area that I really 'needed' and definitely wanted to attend.  I decided to hang out in the neighborhood instead and as I sent my regrets I heard myself say regarding our community time "you've gotta be present to win." I at once thought it was a clever slip of the tongue but in hindsight it was really a cool way to say a life-changing truth that we have learned here at Crosswind.

There's a lot of things you can do 'long distance'. Very good things. Very needed things. You can donate to your favorite charities and :-) please do here. You can do meaningful 'need oriented' events (the recent health fair is one that comes to mind),  'special treat type' events (this time of year especially), attend and contribute to fundraisers, support your local civic clubs which in turn do periodic events and raise money for other charities/ministries and much much more.  All of these activities combine to bring blessing after blessing to those in need and to those who care for them. That we are thankful is an understatement.

But when you're present, you can

...make a new friend.
...understand the plight of someone who doesn't live anything like you do.
...convince someone that you care, not just about a class of people called 'the poor' but about them (you know, Susan and Latisha and Joe) a life change, little by little, month by month, year by year
...not just give a well thought and well presented gospel presentation on 'eveangelism night', but watch what the gospel does as it bears fruit in a person's life

I don't know, but for us here at Crosswind...

you've gotta be present to win.

Sunday, August 26, 2012

A whole new level of outreach, something for nothing

Disclaimer: we think the best mission trip you can ever take is right in your own city. I love to go visit ministries around the world and get a vision for how to support them and even locally, to visit and share the burden with another city. But primarily, God has placed us in Corinth MS and it is our mission field and we love working with you in our city for its good. Having said that, I went on a missions trip this summer than blew my mind and stretched my heart.

I was taking one of our guys (Tony) to Michigan to "get right with the state" and had planned while there to visit a fellow missional guy (David Drake) in Grand Rapids to glean from the practitioners. We surely did learn so much from him and believe that his approach to being the church in and for your city is wonderful. But my biggest missionary surprise was yet to come.

Tony's mom (Mary) is one of those women you hear about that is tough and loving and just knows how to take care of a family. She raised five boys and served and suffered with her husband through a mental breakdown.She's just one of those kind of gals. Little over a decade ago, while working at a state hospital for the mentally ill, she met three wonderful ladies Ruthie, Mary Jean and Joni.

All were in their 60's and had lived in state hospitals since they were little girls. While working there she became aware of a very evil, unspeakable, exploitation of these women. She reported it to the authorities and all the perpetrators will serve the rest of their lives in prison thanks to her. But the victims, these precious women, what about them? They were non-responsive, couldn't talk, curled up in the fetal position. Well what happened next blew my missionary mind.

Mary decided that she would get certified by the state to take these victims into her own home so that they would be safe from abuse and loved in their later years, fully aware that they had nothing to offer her in return. No, they wouldn't recover, no, they would never get stabilized, never get their act together, never have have a productive life, simply, by taking them into her home she had resigned herself to a lifetime of service, a service that would offer her little and perhaps no reward and much labor. Ever changed a 60 year old's diaper?

The meaningful lesson I learned from this wonderful lady is this: The reason that you help people is for love's sake, for helpless people's sake, for God's sake, NOT for the sake of what you will get out of it or even more profoundly, for what they will get out of it. Jesus was "moved with compassion for them, because they were weary and scattered, like sheep having no shepherd." So he did something, he taught them, healed them, cared for them and in case after case the Bible records that the people didn't respond to Him in faith, instead they left, healed and helped but unchanged.  Yet, he did it anyway. Why? Because He was filled with love and "moved with compassion". He served them and serves us indiscriminately, tirelessly because we need it and love demands it.

I met them twelve years later, after she had loved them and cared for them patiently and carefully. She said Joni began talking again after three years and she smiled after about four. Suddenly, little by little, these deeply mentally handicapped victims of horrible abuse, came back to life. "It's birthday party day!" Mary Jean exclaimed as I came in full of smiles and joy. They talk together with big smiles in largely indiscernible words, Ruthie draws happy faces all day on paper after paper, Joni still has to wear mits at night to keep her from hurting herself, but they are safe and happy and it's all due to the love of a woman who, though she didn't know if she would ever do anything more for them but change their diapers and feed them, rescued them anyway.  Wow!

Honestly, I may serve the Lord for the rest of my life and never see a more wonderful scene. It's sublime, its over my head, its wonderful, it brings tears to my eyes and fills my heart in untouched places. "When you've done it unto the least of them, you've done it unto me" said our Lord Jesus. Well Mrs. Mary Kennedy, you have surely done it to our Lord Jesus. Well done!

Is it even possible to hear what needs to be said next?
Go and do likewise.


Monday, July 2, 2012

Ambiguous Jesus? (Part 3 of 3)

So which is more important? Talking about Jesus or Loving Your Neighbor?

What we have faith in will determine which is more important. I can hear you saying “that is easy, my faith is in Jesus.” Which begs the question; “Jesus who?” Ambiguous Jesus?

If you have faith that Jesus is the Christ, that he alone saves, then I believe that you will be driven to talk about Jesus, to  share your faith with those that do not know him. Let’s be honest, if that is what you believe to be true, to not say anything would just be mean.

On the other hand if you have faith that Jesus is Lord, that he rules and reigns and is making all things new, than you will be driven to love your neighbor, fight for human dignity, feed the hungry, and house the poor. The problem is that many people have put their faith in an Ambiguous Jesus (who is neither Christ or Lord).

If the most succinct way to say the Gospel is “Jesus Christ is Lord”, then to follow Jesus may look a lot like a community of people who both: talk about Jesus in a way that says he is the Christ…and love their neighbors in a way that says he is the Lord.

Nate Navarro (guest blogger)
Pastor of Missional Community at Austin City Life
Founder/Director at Music For The City

Monday, June 18, 2012

'Moving In' Is Different Than 'Dropping By'

   There is a big difference in visiting someone and moving in. I don't care if you drop by and all but if you bring a suit case or three and say your moving in well, that's another story. In a very real way that is the difference in living a missionary lifestyle and doing evangelistic events. When you are a missionary somewhere you pack your family up and move in. If you are on a 'missions trip' you visit for a week or so and do some good and go home.

   We're convinced that here at home the 'trip' approach doesn't work. When we first began visiting our neighbors we discovered that we weren't alone. As a matter of fact, everywhere we went other churches had already 'visited' on a trip. Whether it was a block party or a Backyard Bible Club, an Evangelism Explosion visit or a Roman's Road excursion... the neighborhood had already been 'visited'. What hadn't happened is that no one had remained, moved in, taken up residential relationship and friendship.

  When Jesus was going to go to neighborhoods he sent His followers ahead of Him to prepare the field. Many of the things Jesus told His disciples to do, the church today does also. He told them to pray for more harvesters, to go and do good, to preach the gospel. But there is one thing that Jeus told His followers to do that we rarely see His followers do today, remain. Jesus said if we were received as we were going, remain. Move in. Make friends. Build genuine friendships (just like the ones you go out to eat with). Put names in your cell phone and more importantly, let them put yours in theirs.

   I've got a story I want you to see, it's short and very sweet. It's the story of a single dad, trapped in a cocaine addiction. This story took four years to unfold. There were hours of friendship building, days and months of tutoring children, lice removal on more than one occasion, a complete removal of all furniture and replacing of same after thorough cleaning, trip after trip to the job center, extended family, child protective services, the police, rehab and finally Jesus and breakthrough and peace.

Four hard years. Worth every minute. Remain.


Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Missional? Social Justice? I’m Confused. (Part 2)

When I say “missional” you think __________. Let me take 3 guesses:
1 When you hear “missional” you think of a new kind of church, or a new model of church planting. Let’s rule this one out right away, because as I talked about HERE “missional” is just a fairly new word that describes something very old.

2 When you hear “missional” you think about how you are sent to share the good news of Jesus with your friends, neighbors, and co-workers. You want them to know the good news that Jesus saves! Some would call this evangelism, or sharing the Gospel, or making disciples.

If this is where you land, I bet you are taking the great commission seriously. (Mathew 28:19-20)
3 When you hear the word “missional” you think about feeding the hungry, clothing the poor, joining the fight to end human trafficking, adopting an orphan, building a water well in Africa, or doing more for the homeless community in your city. Some would call this social justice, social action, or the social gospel.

If this is where you land, I bet you are taking the command to love your neighbor seriously.  (Luke 10:25-37)
But which is more important? Which is a priority? Just what should we be spending our lives doing?
I am going to propose that the answer to this question is simpler than you think.
I am going to propose that where you put your faith will determine what “missional” means to you.
I know….I can hear you saying “that is easy Nate, my faith is in Jesus.”
Which makes me want to ask you another question…“Jesus who?”

To Be Continued…

Nate Navarro (guest blogger)
Pastor of Missional Community at Austin City Life
Founder/Director at Music For The City


Monday, April 30, 2012

Missional? Social Justice? I’m Confused. (Part 1)

Mercy, justice, missional, incarnational,renewal, the social gospel…
These seem to be the buzzwords at this moment in time…
At the intersection of faith and social injustice.
We are excited!
We are inspired!
We are confused.

The Rise of the Missional Church
Over the last few years there has been an awakening of what it means to be a Christian, to follow Jesus, to be the Church…
Many refer to this awakening as the rise of the missional church.
In very recent history you may have only been able to find a handful of churches that would describe themselves as “missional”.
Today there are missional churches, missional communities (and Gospel-Centered Families of Servant Missionary Disciples) popping up everywhere.
But what is missional?

“Missional” is a way of living, not an affiliation or an activity.
- Reggie McNeal

Missional is redefining what we formerly knew as “church”.
Missional reminds us the church is not a building, a service featuring 4 songs and a sermon, a creepy sub culture, or a country club.
Missional is teaching us that the church is you and me:
*everyday and ordinary people
*who are putting their faith in Jesus
*who are rescued by his grace
*who are following him together
*who are sent to our neighborhoods, workplaces, and cities on his mission
I have this theory that “missional” used to be called things like “Christianity” or “following Jesus”, but since those words have lost their saltiness a new word was formed (an idea I wrote about HERE)

The rise of social awareness and action
In 2012 we are more aware of social injustice than ever.
From Kony, to racism, to human trafficking, the water crisis, and even the organic food revolution: we are more aware than ever that the world is broken.
We long to see things made right.
We want to change the world.
Some of us travel to 3rd world countries, some of us adopt orphans, some of us buy Toms, some of us serve with local non profits, some of us tweet about all of the above.
In 2012 philanthropy and social justice initiatives have invaded our Twitter feeds, Face Book timelines, and have helped us decide which shoes to wear.

The rise of the Missional Church has met the rise of social awareness and action…
We are excited!
We are inspired!
And we are confused.
Should we be telling our neighbors and co-workers about Jesus?
Should we join the fight to end human trafficking?
Which is more important?
Why in the world would I want to do either?
In this series of posts I want to explore this confusion.
Although it is not guaranteed…
I would love for us to get some clarity as to why we find ourselves in a generation of people who want to change the world…yet we still can’t change ourselves.

To be continued….

Nate Navarro (guest blogger)
Pastor of Missional Community at Austin City Life
Founder/Director at Music For The City

Monday, April 16, 2012

Until I'm holy, I'm gonna hurt you!

It matters that we help each other get on in our spiritual walk. Until I do, I'm gonna mess you up.

It's really simple when you think about it. All sin is against you. I lie to you, cheat on you, gossip about you, am lazy and want you to pay, and on and on we go... all sin is against you. So it is really in your best interest that I stop.

In sanctification (God making me holy), I am quitting my sins... sins against my spouse, my children, my neighbor, my city, my government, my earth, or said another way... against you. There is no such thing as private sin, all sin affects someone or something.

So as God is sanctifying me, He is helping you too. As God fixes me, He is also fixing you. Let me give you a simple example. I sin and hurt you. Now you are injured because of me. God fixes me. I come to you and ask your forgiveness and make amends to you. That heals you. God fixing me, fixed you.

So as God is fixing me, He is also at the same time blessing all the things that I (in my sin) cursed, healing what I hurt, restoring what I destroyed, fixing what I broke.

As God fixes you, He fixes everything around you because a sinful you messes a lot of stuff up.

One of the reasons to help messed up people find "the God who fixes people" is because you get fixed at the same time. Remember, until I'm holy I'm gonna hurt you.

Please help me to be holy.


Thursday, March 22, 2012

"Honey, I ruined the kids."

So many times in outreach we meet people who are where they are as a result, in part, of a broken relationship with a parent. Now, at once all of us parents bristle, "don't be blaming me for my kids choices" or the others of us that with deep regret and some sense of ownership feel perpetually guilty and overwhelmed at the poor parenting job we did, especially when our kids are not doing so well. What to do? Here's some thoughts for ya:

1. We are all bad parents - I know that's hard for some to choke down but you HAVE messed up your kids. To cut us a little slack, we may have done the best we could with what we knew at the time, but even then there is no such thing as a perfect parent and that means your imperfect parenting has negatively affected your kids.

2. Your kids all have wounds from you that need healing - if you look at your kid's negative actions and attitudes many of them stem from reactions to wounds that you caused your children as you parented them imperfectly. Your kid has a bad self-esteem, your kid has an anger problem, or the way your kid "acts out" many times stems from your relationship to them. And your kids need to be healed from your mistakes in parenting.

3. God fixes parents - Just last month my 26 year old brought up an old wound that I had given him. When he was in the hospital I said it was the best time we'd had in a long time because he had been slowed down enough to share some quality time. He jokingly said that as he grew up I wasn't there when he needed me either and was always "helping someone else". Wow! A lump went up in my throat and right there in the presence of his close friends I confessed my sin of neglect and told him how that that was one was one of my deepest regrets in parenting him, and I asked him to forgive me. I love my son with all my heart but I sinned against my son and wounded him in his childhood. I am not a perfect parent. Jesus is. And Jesus used that holy moment to bring healing to me, Jeffrey's imperfect father.

4. God heals kids - No matter what we've done to our kids in our imperfection God can and will heal as they trust in Him. I suffered much at the hands of my earthly father and God has over time healed me from much of that suffering. Did he do the best he could with what he had? Yes! But he wasn't perfect and I suffered. The good news is that on that glorious weekend long ago Jesus bore in His body my bad parenting and my parents bad parenting and now lives to set me free from the ill effects of it.

Friend, don't hide from the fact that you've blown it and your kids have suffered. Own it, grieve it, confess it, reconcile it. But never ever think that what sin has done God in Christ can't forgive and heal and restore back to new.

I hope that what transacted between my son and I will help him too, time will tell, but know this, God was so loving and merciful to grant to me on that special day some healing from my regrets and sins.


Monday, March 19, 2012

Rebuilding Lives: Some Practical Stuff

Crosswind serves families that have come on hard times and have been displaced from their homes and are unemployed. Our effort is to serve them until they are stabilized, meaning able to provide for themselves. We thought we'd give you a glimpse of what a typical client needs so you could get a feel for what it takes to get back on your feet.

1. REAR VIEW MIRROR - they need help to get the negatives out of their lives so they won't be a continued hindrance:
a. Driver's License (many lose their license because of c. below)
b. GED
c. Clean record (old fines and charges pending)

2. JOB - many times an entry level job so we can begin to clean the rear view, then a more stable higher paying job once the obstacles are removed.
a. WIN Job Center - our clients wear out the job center folks :-)
b. Networks - friends in the community who have entry level positions
c. Newspaper and such- all available avenues to find job opportunities
d. Interviews - we transport clients to and from interviews
e. Resume - we make each client an up-to-date resume

3. TRANSPORTATION - very few of our clients have transportation
a. Meetings - every clients goes to at least 4 (four) meetings per week.
b. Appointments - doctor, dentist, job interview, job search, etc.
c. Groceries and stuff - the regular necessities of living

4. STABILIZATION - Once employed, a process begins to help them be self sustaining
a. Old bills - many leave bills unpaid (power, water, etc.) when trouble comes
b. Deposits - it costs about $750 to get in a low rent apartment
c. Furniture for new apartment - most have nothing when they move

These are just a few of the practical things that our friends need in order to get back on their feet. Each takes numerous hours of volunteerism and work from our great staff and many others. But that is not all...

It would be foolish to help someone with the above items and neglect the reason they got in that place in the first hand. So to that end most of our time spent is filled with counsel and encouragement and teaching that points our friends to the glorious work that happened on Calvary weekend and its implications in their lives.

Crosswind can't change lives, only Jesus can, but with practical love and purposeful proclamation we can point them to our Lord who is mighty to save and eager to make all things new.

Thank you so much for your support and encouragement. Our staff and many volunteers are grateful. Also, if you have any questions, please feel free to ask them in the comment section below, I'll be sure to answer each one.


Friday, March 2, 2012

When you're at wit's end, What would Jesus do?

In outreach, you will encounter so many circumstances where you don't know what to do. How do you witness to someone who will not hear? How do you help someone who seems to reject all help? Do we hold back here or move in? Do we correct or let them figure it out? What do we do when it seems like we've done all we know to do and don't know what to do next? The answer is easy isn't it?

What would Jesus do?

Last night that very text came in from my co-worker about a seemingly helpless situation. I flipped back a answer but the question plagued me. To be honest, I didn't know what Jesus would do. If I did perhaps we would have done it. I thought over the last month about all the helpless moments where I wondered what to do about this or that. This last month was filled with a nagging sense of incompetency and inability. So many times we needed that answer, that 'right way to turn', right direction to take, right move to make and yet it seemed to allude us time and again. Then it hit me:

Jesus is already doing "what Jesus would do".

I had this kinda daydream like I was in a car asking the Lord which way to turn, "Would you turn left? right? gas pedal? brake? neutral? reverse?" And I sensed the Lord say to me: "Take your hands of the wheel and your feet off the pedals, I am already doing what I would do." That's it! He really is! Jesus is doing His will all the time, He is healing people's hearts, He is setting captives free, He is preaching the gospel to the poor. HE is! HIM! Wow, what a liberating thought.

Friends, you cannot be Jesus to someone else, He is being Jesus to them. You don't have to do "what Jesus would do", He is already doing it!

And oh by the way (because I know you are dying to ask the question) the "where do I come in?" part is answered above. When Jesus wants you engaged, He'll engage you, when He wants you to have the answer, He'll give it to you.

That's enough, isn't it?


Monday, February 6, 2012

"After all we've done for you?"

There is no place where your motive for doing outreach gets tested better than when the person you are helping takes your help and then disses you (that's disrespect for you 'not so cool' folks). Over and over again in outreach you feel used, unappreciated and disrespected. You give and give (time and treasure) to a person to help them get up and out of their situation and what do you get in return? Sometimes just a snub. No thanks, no heart change, no life change, nothing. In those moments (and they are more frequent than you think) your heart is exposed. Are you whining? Are you mad? Are you withdrawing saying "fine then..."? Are you frustrated? Burned out? Bummed out? If so, welcome to outreach! And more importantly, welcome to Jesus' world.

When Jesus healed the ten lepers how many came back to give thanks? One, and he was a foreigner, in other words he wasn't a Jew who knew to give thanks. It was as if Jesus was saying, How many did I heal, ten? Where are the other nine? Didn't any body give glory to God except this guy who wadn't even raised right? (Luke 17:11-19) Here's the question: Why did Jesus heal the ten? Because He had come to make all things new, to usher in a new Kingdom where the new King is a healer. He healed them because leprosy is a part of the fall, part of the broken world which He had come to set straight, to make new. He was glad that one saw it and "his faith made him well".

A friend said the other day, "Do unto others as God in Christ has done unto you." That's the only reason to do outreach. Because God in Christ reached out to me. I was blind, and He made me see, I was broken and He put me back together, I was lost and He saved me. Any other motive will leave you looking for thanks, frustrated at the slow progress of the "dysfunctional disciples", angry that they don't care that you sacrifice to help them, they just want your help.

Oh yea, we've all treated Jesus that way, haven't we? But he healed us anyway, he set us free anyway, he saved us anyway. Friends, help folks because you've been helped. Love because you've been loved. Sacrifice for the good for others because He sacrificed for your good. Then you can be glad for the ones who 'get it' and are thankful, but you won't be bummed out when they aren't.

When you realize all He's done for you it doesn't even make sense to say, "What, after all we've done for you?"


Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Outreach Lessons To Learn In The New Year

Thought I’d throw some random thoughts together for those of you brave ones who will decide this year to take the gospel to your city in increasing ways.

Pack a lunch. As the old saying goes, you didn’t get here overnight and you ain’t gonna change overnight. Even with the transformational work of God in bringing us to faith in Jesus we begin a process of conforming to His image that takes time. Believe me, it takes time. Effective life change NEVER happens in a block party, visitation, an act of mercy, giving someone clothes or any other random act of kindness. Life change is a work of God that happens in the context of a faithful community investing in one another according to the various gifts God has distributed to us as we build one another up in love. So, pack a lunch, roll your sleeves up and get ready for some hard, sacrificial, thrilling work.

Leave your boxes at home. We have been trained to engage the community by inviting them to join us in our spiritual life ("Invite ‘em to church").  We find that if we enter their life it works better. The Bible never says that Jesus invited the lost to synagogue, it does say he ate and drank with sinners. Making real friends (How many time have you shared a meal with the ‘visitation' assignment?), real enough to include having a meal together, takes much more than an invite to a meeting or other programs. And as we got to know each other God seems always to give us opportunity to share the hope that lies within us to those who need to hear it.

When you get stuck, outsource. So many times the church won’t do what it takes to engage their community because they either ‘get in over their head’ or are afraid they will. We are over our head all the time around here. And when we get that way we remember we’re not in it alone. This is a small city, we know each other, get help! Day after day Christians call us and we them solving seemingly impossible problems.  It’s beautiful. God designed His church in a city to work together. There is no place like outreach where this is so natural.  There is a brother in our town getting his doctorate in Christian counseling (not mentioning names Chris). We can’t wait! Why? Cause we’re way over our heads sometimes and need his help.

Remember, it’s about them not you. We have designed the church to be about us, and we spend almost all our talent and energy and money on ourselves. Jesus however, left all that and came and spent Himself on us. And he calls us to have the same attitude as Him. Jesus left the ninety nine for the one, rebuked the ‘church guys’ when they told the suffering He was too busy or when they shooed the street children away. It was always about us. Always. And for us, it’s always about them.