Friday, March 3, 2017
What was the inspiration for our bag designs? Early in our journey we were approached by a coffee shop that asked us to start making bags for them. We were looking for a product that would help us empower and employ people. My wife is an accomplished seamstress, so she began to research design ideas. She developed a design that was unique in structure and assembly. She made it so that unskilled workers could take part in the production and gain skills as they learned. The new venture was up and running.
Over the last 8 years the design has been modified for improvements and efficiency. The bags we sell today are much different and much better quality than what we started with. We have added products as the venture grew. We now have a small messenger, 2 sizes of journals, wallets, clutches, and have made many custom items over the years.
The reuse of burlap coffee bean bags not only makes for a great unique gift idea but also helps to curb a huge waste problem. Thousands of empty coffee bean bags are thrown into landfills every week. We can only play a small part in the solution to this problem. I am excited to see so many people making bags and other products from old coffee bags and helping to reduce, reuse and recycle these products.
So with over a million search results making totes and messengers from old coffee bags, why should you buy ours? Our bag business has helped numerous single moms get a second chance. All of the proceeds go to our non-profit and are used to rebuild our community. Your purchase helps people in a very real way. With millions of bags hitting the landfills every year we encourage you to pick up some bags from your local roaster, look at what is being sold out there and start sewing.
Thursday, February 9, 2017
In the beginning...God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them. God blessed them; and God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth, and subdue it; rule over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the sky and over every living thing that moves on the earth.
I think God had something big in mind when He created man. Mankind must be some kind of special thing, some unique part of creation. It is the only creature that is made in the image of the Maker. It is the only creature that was told to subdue the earth and rule.
The LORD God formed man of the dust from the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living being. The LORD God planted a garden toward the east, in Eden; and there He placed the man whom He had formed...The LORD God took the man and put him into the garden of Eden to cultivate it and keep it.
Man is the only creature that gets life breathed into it. And in this verse, man is given a job – to work in and guard the garden. We come to see that mankind has a very special relationship with the Creator. They walk together and talk together. They share this special garden. Man gets to name other parts of the creation. God does not relate to the oceans or cattle or mountains the same way He relates to mankind.
When I consider Your heavens, the work of Your fingers, the moon and the stars which You have ordained; what is man that You take thought of him, and the son of man that You care for him? Yet You have made him a little lower than God, and You crown him with glory and majesty! You make him to rule over the works of Your hands; You have put all things under his feet, all sheep and oxen, and also the beasts of the field, the birds of the heavens and the fish of the sea, whatever passes through the paths of the seas.
King David is rightfully astounded at this realization. This is from Psalm 8, a psalm that follows 7 other psalms that wrestle with the idea of God rewarding righteous men and punishing evil men, and how that doesn't always seem apparent. How can this prized creation be both wicked and righteous? How can God allow for such inconsistent and destructive behavior?
Not only that, but we are told that mankind – this wonderful unique creation – is so important that God clothed Himself as one. He gave up His glorious throne and humbled Himself, to walk in flesh and blood, experience pain, loss, discomfort, and rejection, only to be ultimately abandoned, tortured, and killed – for man. For man who hated Him. So that we could come to know Him fully, truly, as we did in the beginning, when we shared a wonderful garden together.
One day, Jesus, this God-as-man, tells a strange story. It is popularly known as the “Parable of the Talents.”
The Kingdom of Heaven can be illustrated by the story of a man going on a trip. He called together his servants and gave them money to invest for him while he was gone. He gave five bags of gold to one, two bags of gold to another, and one bag of gold to the last – dividing it in proportion to their abilities – and then left on his trip. The servant who received the five bags of gold began immediately to invest the money and soon doubled it. The servant with two bags of gold also went right to work and doubled the money. But the servant who received the one bag of gold dug a hole in the ground and hid the master's money for safekeeping.
Jesus goes on to describe the master's return and how he responds to the servants. The servant with one bag of gold says, “Sir, I know you are a hard man, harvesting crops you didn't plant and gathering crops you didn't cultivate. I was afraid I would lose your money, so I hid it in the earth and here it is.” Funny that he uses cultivation, mankind's job, to accuse his master of taking things that weren't his, while defending himself of neglecting to cultivate the master's riches that were given to him. I don't think burying the money in the ground like a seed was going to achieve the growth the master was looking for.
Rightfully so, the master turns the insult back around on the lazy servant and then says, “To those who use well what they are given, even more will be given, and they will have an abundance. But from those who are unfaithful, even what little they have will be taken away.” And the servant is thrown out into the darkness.
God created mankind in a unique way. We were made to resemble our maker, and filled with His breath; Jesus made the way for us to be filled with His very Spirit. We were commanded to rule over this world and the creatures in it. We are to use well what we are given. We are capable of remarkable acts of wickedness and breathtaking acts of righteousness. Mankind has immense power, authority, and responsibility given to them by their Creator. We have the ability to crumble mountains, to wage wars, to create ghettos, to cheat workers, to destroy millions of lives. We have the ability to save lives, to invent medicines, to care for the poor, to comfort the hurting, to build homes. We can create desolation, or go and repair desolation. We can cultivate the garden, or we can poison it and burn it down. We can use well what we've been given, or we can bury it in the dirt and neglect our God-given ability to increase the Master's riches.
Very truly I tell you, whoever believes in Me will do the works I have been doing, and they will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father.
Tuesday, January 24, 2017
Sun Ministries is rewriting the book on urban ministry. We are setting a new paradigm that will impact the way the church lives and works in the USA. We are looking for like-minded people that feel called to minister in the most devastated and hurting areas of our country.
Sun Ministries is now booking mission trips for Summer 2017. We are working in the Hyde Park neighborhood of north St. Louis, MO, ministering in a way we call “Pastoring the Community.” We are creating businesses, rehabbing housing, and taking care of the neighborhood in a variety of ways. In addition to work projects, our mission trips will also include teaching and training on ministering in the inner city. Our missionaries will provide testimonies, songs, and stories, along with teaching on being the Church and walking in faith outside of buildings and structures. We are welcoming people who know the Lord and want to use their skills to rebuild the ancient ruins and their spiritual gifts to rebuild destroyed lives, as outlined in Isaiah 61:
“The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is on me, because the Lord has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim freedom for the captives and release from darkness for the prisoners, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor and the day of vengeance of our God, to comfort all who mourn, and provide for those who grieve in Zion—to bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of joy instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair. They will be called oaks of righteousness, a planting of the Lord for the display of his splendor. They will rebuild the ancient ruins and restore the places long devastated; they will renew the ruined cities that have been devastated for generations.”
We are booking groups for the following weeks:
Ages 18 and up are welcome. Due to space limitations and the nature of the work we'll be doing, children are not allowed. Volunteers do not need to be part of any sort of organization. All skill sets are welcome-- we have plenty of general labor, as well as projects for mechanics, carpenters, plumbers, electricians, painters, artists, etc.
|walking and talking. giving some context for the work.|
Sun Ministries will house volunteers in our Leadership Center and provide meals through our Sun Cafe. Volunteers will arrive on Sunday, and dinner will be provided. We will provide 3 meals each day of the work week. Most days will be a mix of working and teaching, with free time scheduled in. Volunteers will leave Saturday, after breakfast. You are welcome to bring additional snacks and drinks (no alcohol).
Tools and safety gear will be provided, but you are welcome to bring your own safety gear (please leave your personal tools at home; we don't want them lost or damaged). Sturdy, closed-toe shoes are recommended. Come prepared to work outside in the heat (water bottles, hats, etc).
Sun Ministries will supply lodging and all meals for the trip.
Meals: $115 per person for food (total of 17 meals, and endless supplies of coffee)
Lodging: Lodging cost varies depending on how much personal space you want on your trip. We have several rooms in our Leadership Center and other options for lodging.
2 to a room - $75 per person
3 to a room - $60 per person
4 (or more) to a room - $50 per person
Sun Ministries might be hosting multiple groups and individuals in the same week. The largest single group we can accommodate is 12. The smallest is one (but the individual will share a room).
If you are interested, please contact Jason Calahan at 314-437-3861 or firstname.lastname@example.org
If you are interested, please contact Jason Calahan at 314-437-3861 or email@example.com
To learn more about Sun Ministries and our work, please look over our website and blog. You can also download our podcast, The ResistanceRadio Show.
Saturday, January 14, 2017
We have talked a lot about vision in our blog. It is essential to what we do. It is the “why behind the what,” as some people have said. It establishes our core values and directs all our decisions. It affects everything from how we run a business to how we interact with the homeless guy on the street.
So it's very important for vision to be clear. So what happens when you lose focus? Does the vision get blurry?
Ask any one of us, and we will likely agree that this past year has been rough. Our businesses have suffered, our health has suffered, we've had attacks on property and have lost much of our staff. In the midst of all that, we are still trying to run 6 businesses and keep the lights on in the middle of one of the most desolate areas of our city.
God started trying to get our attention about 6 months ago. He generally begins with restlessness – with a sense that something isn't quite right. Initially, we usually chalk that up to a failure to perform. Maybe there's just too much chaos with our employees, maybe we didn't plan well enough, maybe we need to manage better, maybe we forgot too much. But God kept applying pressure. Business would not turn around. Our personal interactions involved more friction. Our worship gatherings became lifeless.
As we became more aware something was wrong, we became more willing to listen to God's direction. He began to tell us that we had lost our focus. At first, it was the focus on spiritual warfare. So He turned our eyes back to the real spiritual battle that we are in every day, and the fact that we must be engaging it with great intentionality. And not just on our own, but together as a Body, as a united group of soldiers following one Lord into battle.
Through this, God was able to turn our eyes to other concerns. We had tried to escape the burden of constant physical tasks. Which is absurd, since God called us to start businesses so we could work next to those in need of hope. So He started showing us how to manage better and how to minister better in a work environment. Then He showed us that we had lost our first love – the making of disciples.
All the work of Sun Ministries began with a call to go outside the structured American church and make disciples that make disciples; to obey the Great Commission and set captives free. But this wasn't a call to add members to a church. This was a call to obey our Lord Jesus Christ, to walk in the same manner He did, to disciple people because that is God's design of reproduction. That's how He wants His church to bring transformation to others. It is a very costly form of relationship, but one that also creates life-giving environments. This seems to be God's pattern. “Give up everything so I can give you life more abundant.” We often fail to see how all the things we hold on to are small, temporal, and meaningless. The holy things of God are immense, eternal, and full of real goodness. Whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life because of Jesus will find it.
So what does disciple-making have to do with running a cafe in north city? Nothing, if your goal is to run a cafe in north city. But EVERYTHING if your goal is to bring any amount of lasting transformation. And this goes for anyone, whether they are a middle class college kid raised in the church, or a fifty-year-old homeless man who hasn't had a license in 15 years. God was intentional of His design for the church, and from the very beginning, Jesus was calling disciples. He then instructed His disciples to make disciples. And we see this play out in the midst of a church that was sharing all things, mourning and rejoicing together, and utilizing spiritual gifts together in order to build up the body in love.
Man has looked for many solutions to pain and evil. Conquest, Pax Romana, genocide, large-scale behavior modification, social welfare, education, fascism, socialism, communism, democracy, legislation, amendments, and a cornucopia of non-profit organizations. Though well-intentioned, these often disregard God's design for His creation. So what does this mean for us? Providing a job does not change a person's heart. Providing a space to live does not destroy the works of satan in their lives. Picking up trash, rehabbing houses, and publishing blogs does not transform areas long bound by oppression. And if you're just focused on trying to alleviate the chaos around you, you will do little to reform the church.
Discipleship is God's creation, His people, these little image bearers, taking the gifts they've been given and using them to help others come to know the Good Shepherd. It is laying down your life for your brother. Discipleship isn't a sunday school class, or a seminar, or weekend retreat. It is a way of life that unites you with others through the Spirit, and leads people to the goal of becoming Spirit-transformed followers of Christ.
Are you making a place for this in your life? Keep in mind that you are not meant to be alone. The Body needs to make a place for the “least of these”, to build each other up so that we can be united in the mission to make disciples and teach them what Christ has taught us.
As we move forward in 2017, we will be intentional to remain focused on the vision – to bring Good News to the afflicted, to share with them the good things the Father has given us, and to teach our disciples to obey Jesus and go and make disciples of their own.
If you'd like to know more about making disciples, you can download our free book (or order a physical copy), “The Disciple-Maker's Handbook” here.
Monday, December 19, 2016
Has the Gospel of Jesus caused you to sacrifice? In what ways?
Jesus is God. He lacks nothing. He has all power and authority. He has all this in ways we can't begin to understand. And He gave it all up. He humbled Himself. He let go of all of His rights and privilege, His immense power and transcendence, to appear here on earth as a baby. A baby born in poverty, in a stable, and laid in a feeding trough built for animals. Just after that, his family had to flee an abusive government murdering thousands of innocent children.
And then He had to grow up. And feel pain. And experience loss, frustration, disappointment. And we all know how His story ends. Ridiculed and challenged by authorities. Betrayed and abandoned by His closest friends. Humiliated, tortured, and executed.
His disciples had similar experiences. Ridicule, persecution, and martyrdom. Paul himself shares an impressive list of hardships that all came as a result of the Good News (for a quick pick-me-up, you can read it in 2 Corinthians 11:23-28).
And the Bible leaves us with daunting messages concerning our future and the sacrifices awaiting us:
“If the world hates you, be aware that it hated me first.”
“Do not be surprised, brethren, if the world hates you.”
“If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me.”
"If anyone comes to Me, and does not hate his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes, and even his own life, he cannot be My disciple. Whoever does not carry his own cross and come after Me cannot be my disciple.”
“...none of you can be My disciple who does not give up all his own possessions.”
“The one who says he abides in Him ought to himself walk in the same manner as He walked.”
So if we're walking the same path as Jesus, it's safe to assume our destinations will be similar.
The Good News of the Kingdom is inherently selfless. It removes our selves from the center of our universe, and replaces us with the will of God. The Good News is a message of giving up of your self for the sake of others. It is laying down status, rights, privilege, power, for the sake of those who have none of those things. For the sake of those who ignore you, mock you, abandon you, betray you, and persecute you. Like Jesus, we must remove our outer clothes, get down on our hands and knees, and wash the feet of Judas.
So, has the Gospel of Jesus caused you to sacrifice? In what ways? Please share in a comment below. This isn't an opportunity to pat yourself on the back, but to share your story with others so we may celebrate together how God is bringing Good News to the world.
Friday, December 16, 2016
In the beginning, God made mankind and said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth, and subdue it; and rule over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the sky and over every living thing that moves on the earth (Genesis 1:28).”
Does this still apply to you? If so, how do you do it?
Much later, after Jesus rose from the dead, He said to His disciples, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and I am with you always, even to the end of the age.”
Does this still apply to you? If so, how do you do it?
We see these two sets of instructions as being vitally linked. When God made man and set him in His good creation, He instructed them to increase in number and to steward creation. When the work of Jesus created the New Humanity, washed clean by His sacrifice and filled with the Holy Spirit, we are given new instructions for being fruitful and multiplying. Because this New Humanity is not simply one of flesh and blood, the result of human reproduction. This is a humanity united in the Spirit. Not simply sons of man, but children of God.
So how do these children “reproduce”?
Jesus made disciples. He did not plant a church. He instructed His disciples to make disciples, to teach them to obey Jesus, and to baptize them, and then reassured them that He would always be with them. We are to make disciples. But how? Have you been discipled? Have you made a disciple?
Discipleship is at the core of what we do and how we do it. We know that no amount of money or programming will change a person's life. But personal investment, a costly love, a real relationship, all directed at observing what Christ as commanded, will bring significant and lasting change.
Because this is so important to us, we have thought a lot about it, and written about it. The third book written by Dr. Terry Goodwin is “The Disciple-Maker's Handbook.” His first book, “Disciple Driven Church” could be summarized as “what not to do”, and the second book, “Being the Church” could be summarized as “what to do.” This book could be summarized as “how to do what to do.” It is a guide for how to prepare yourself to make a disciple, and teach that disciple to make a disciple. It realigns our focus concerning “church growth” away from increasing numbers of attendees, and puts it on to our responsibility to obey Christ's commands to make disciples, teach them, and baptize them.
You can download a free pdf of the book, or buy a physical copy, in our online store. What follows is an excerpt from the book.
What is the Christian Life? It appears that the farther we get from the death and resurrection of Jesus, the more difficult this question has become to answer. Modern teachers and evangelists have distorted and maligned the basic purpose of the work of Jesus on the cross. The work of Jesus stands as the means to reconcile man to God. There is no other way to make this happen. Jesus paid the price to repair what was broken.
Once we realize this and accept His sacrifice by faith, we obtain the right to become children of God - John 1:12. What is often missed in today's church circles is that God is building something that only He can build. God is building a bride for His son Jesus. This bride does not consist of those that attend a service on a set day of the week at a building we call the church. This bride is built through the power and presence of God's Spirit. This bride must operate by God's design. This bride must be built by God's design.
What is God's design for building the church, Christ's bride? God has given us ample instruction of how the church is designed to gather, function and be led. In today's modern organized religion, many rely on the structure of the organization to make disciples. No such structure is outlined in scripture and the responsibility for making disciples is only commanded of the disciples. When we delegate the task to others, we miss out on God's chief means by which He builds the bride of Christ, His church. Only by returning to God's design for making disciples and building the church will we ever participate in the goal of redemption.
We must study the Great Commission in order to understand this process and apply it to our lives. We will never accidentally make disciples. We must prepare ourselves to make disciples. We must discipline ourselves to make disciples. We must first learn to be a disciple if we want to make disciples. This can all sound like hard work and it may be. This might be why the modern religious institutions focus on making converts or church members. We are never commanded by Christ to make converts or church members.
In Matthew 23:15 Jesus condemns the Pharisees for making converts and teaching them to be like themselves. God wants us to make disciples His way. He has not given us the green light to teach them whatever we want. We are to teach disciples to seek and follow Jesus, not our leaders or ourselves.
In order to go and make disciples we must first "BE" a disciple. Whose disciple are you? Are you a disciple of Jesus or someone else? Many people have accepted Christ by faith but have never been discipled. You teach what you know but you reproduce what you are. Do not fall into the same trap the Pharisees fell into. Don't convince yourself that you are making disciples and end up making them into followers of man.
What does it take to be a disciple of Jesus? You must define what a disciple is before you can make one or even be one. The best place to find the definition of a disciple is by looking to the one that commanded you to make them. This is what Jesus said about being His disciple.
[Luke 14:26] "If anyone comes to Me, and does not hate his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes, and even his own life, he cannot be My disciple.
[Luke 14:27]27 "Whoever does not carry his own cross and come after Me cannot be My disciple. ...
[Luke 14:33] "So then, none of you can be My disciple who does not give up all his own possessions.
By Jesus' own words, we must love nothing above Him, even our own lives. We must be willing to suffer for His cause. We must also give up all of our own possessions. Do you meet His requirements? If you do then He says you will bear much fruit and prove to be His disciple - John 15:8.
In order to be a disciple of Jesus we must sacrifice. To become like Christ is to do what He did. Jesus had everything. He gave it all up to come here to people that had nothing and no hope. He served us and died for us so we could live forever with Him and share in everything. This is what Jesus did. We should do as He did. This is the Gospel.
The Goal of disciple-making is to bring believers to spiritual transformation and full maturity in Christ as they learn to follow Him in obedience and love. This must result in believers gathering together and living sacrificially together for others. These gathered disciples must learn to walk in both the physical and spiritual realms. This will result in the church being the supernatural, self-sacrificing, manifestation of God on earth. This is the bride that Jesus will return to claim! Disciples are meant to live like Christ, act like Christ, love like Christ and value what Christ valued. The church will display Christ to the world when this happens.
Before He ascended to the Father, Jesus gave a task to the remaining 11 disciples. This task is referred to as the Great Commission. In it, Jesus was giving instructions to His followers as to what they were to do after His departure. They are His final words to them and have great significance for us, especially as those who are called to continue their apostolic work (John 17:20-21). To study the Great Commission is to study the task to which we have been called by the Lord Jesus Christ.
Do you agree that the Great Commission is the mission of the Christ follower? Do you believe it is as relevant today as it was in the days in which He spoke it to the eleven?
If we really believe the Great Commission is the mission given to the Christ follower by our Lord and Savior, and if we believe it was not an option but a command, then we must commit ourselves to know it, understand it, own it, preach it, live it, and above all do it. Anything less dishonors it and the One Who gave it.
Therefore, a vital question to ask yourself as a Christ follower is: “Do I have a personal, specific, and intentional strategy to make disciples in my own life?”
Jesus not only laid down
the challenge of what we were supposed to do in order to win the
world, He lived it out personally.
Notice how He spent His three years of public ministry.
- He preached and ministered
to the crowds (the multitudes).
- He taught and deployed the
convinced (the “seventy”).
- He trained and challenged
the committed (the “twelve”).
- He focused on and mentored
the core (the “three”).
Jesus knew that though there was a time and place to teach and preach to the larger numbers of people, the success or failure of His movement would be in the hands of the smaller numbers. This strategic investment in individual people through organic, lifestyle discipleship was the key to the continuation of Jesus’ message and the establishment of His kingdom.
Question: If this was the strategy that Jesus used, commanded, empowered, and authorized, why would we use any other?
Saturday, December 10, 2016
So what do you do when your experience and observations of faith don't add up to what you see in Scripture, or what you hear about happening overseas, or on the “front lines” of ministry, or the stories involving “heroes” of the faith? We have found ourselves in that place at one time or another, which is what led us on the path of looking for something more. That path finally led us to living the Gospel (to the best of our ability) here in north St. Louis.
In answering the call to live by God's design, make disciples, and minister in broken places, our flesh has been challenged and our understanding stretched. We have come to the place where faith is necessary, where we are truly interdependent, where our reasonings and strength consistently prove to be insufficient. This is a good place to be. You can't accept a gospel of grace by striving to be good. You can't love if you are not humbled. You can't know an invisible God by memorizing His biography, but only by walking with Him, listening to His voice, and obeying.
While we know we don't know everything, we are sure that God has called us to this work, and that part of this work is rediscovering God's patterns for the church – this supernatural body present here on the earth. We've been trying to find ways to communicate this, and so we started writing books. Dr. Terry Goodwin, our executive director, has written three books. The first we've already covered. The second is called “Being the Church: Planting faith communities in a post-modern world.” While “Disciple Driven Church” is a book about history and a discussion of hurtful practices, “Being the Church” is a guide to what we can start doing. It is also a collection of stories and vision from living this out in a place that has long been abused and oppressed.
Below are some excerpts from the book. You can download it for free, or purchase a physical copy, in our online store.
There is a movement happening during our current age. Look around you. God is calling people out of the man made structure of religion that calls itself the church. The structured church organization maligns, labels and ridicules the movement. They don't see what God is doing. They call some of them the "Dones" and others are labeled as bitter or church haters. Don't be fooled by the name callers. This movement is a work of God. He is setting His children free from a religious system born out of pagan practices. He is returning them to their rightful place as stewards of His creation. It is in this position of God-given authority, working through God-given methods and power, that the church of God will once again transform the known world.
When the church functions by its design, it is the most powerful force on earth. It can correct every problem and thwart every kind of evil. The idea of a group of people laying down their lives for the common good of society may seem like fantasy. The truth is that even small groups of people throughout history have had huge impacts on society by living as Jesus did. The goal of every Christian should be to become more like Christ. You cannot do that if you do not follow God's design. Jesus knew this and communicated it in John 5:19 - "Therefore Jesus answered and was saying to them, "Truly, truly, I say to you, the Son can do nothing of Himself, unless it is something He sees the Father doing; for whatever the Father does, these things the Son also does in like manner."
I am a full believer in a simple Gospel of sola scriptura - sola fide - sola gracia. The truth I see in Scripture is that works are not required for our salvation. I also see the truth that our Salvation is not the only goal of the Gospel. There is a much bigger result desired by God. He designed the Gospel to produce His desired result. If we lose sight of the desired result, we will settle for a weaker, partial Gospel. God desires the Gospel to produce a royal priesthood zealous for good works. He desires the Gospel to produce a functioning body of believers that lives together by His design, set apart from the world and united by the Holy Spirit. This priesthood will fulfill the covenant of Adam as it is fruitful, multiplies, stewards and rules over God's creation.
In order to "Be the Church" we must be seeking the things of God. If we seek His ways we will find His ways. The hard part about finding God's ways is that He expects us to live his ways and obey His commands. Consecration is the process of setting ourselves apart from the things of the world and the ways of the world. One visible quality of the church should be that it lives differently than the rest of the world. It lives supernaturally. It does not live under the same priorities as the rest of the world. It does not seek the same things as the rest of the world. Its value system is God's value system. Jesus instructs His disciples to seek the Kingdom first. In order to "Be the Church" we must be set apart. The primary method that is outlined in scripture to accomplish this process is discipleship. If you go back to scripture you will see that we are never instructed to go and start churches. We are commanded to go and make disciples.
We didn't have to go start a church or grow a church. We had to Be the Church! We had to do for others what Jesus did for us. We had to give up everything and lay down our lives for others. What a great concept. Think of the greatness of this Gospel. As Jesus is proclaimed and people place their faith in Him, they will sell all they own, move to the desperate places and care for the oppressed. If you are the oppressed in this picture you will fully grasp the goodness of this news. Who else but God can compel people to do this?
We had no idea where we were supposed to do this thing God had called us to do. We began by seeking the Lord. We prayed and fasted and responded when God prompted us. It was a very strange experience when compared to how I had done things in the past. It was an exploration with God. In the end, God made it very clear where we were supposed to start. He prompted someone to give us a wood shop in the neighborhood He had been drawing us to for over a year. Once we were there, we continued to walk and pray and fast and listen. God had prepared a place for us to go and "Be the Church". I did not pick the place. In fact, I objected to His choice at first. I wanted to go somewhere else.
When we walk according to God's design we are powerful. We have the ability to change things. We can lift physical oppression through our own sacrifice and commitment. We can suffer and endure for others. We can intercede through prayer and fasting. We can use our spiritual gifts to bring to light the lies of the enemy. All of this is within our power.
Too often, we as Christians place our attention, time, resources, energy, dreams, gifts, and hopes on the growth of a church and doing things the church's way. When that is so, we face the danger that our focus will be on ourselves and we will use the community to grow our church instead of the church to bless our communities and show them how to follow God's ways. When we embrace God’s design to bless our communities and show them His ways, our focus will be outward rather than inward.
People are hungry for the supernatural things of God. They are leaving the institutional church by the thousands. God is preparing to receive this remnant by raising up groups of people that are dedicated to living by His design. The inner cities of America are prepared for revival and renewal. These places represent the worst of Satan's attacks on America. They are filled with neglect, racism, oppression and poverty. These places need God's people to come into them and live sacrificially for the sake of the residents that have suffered in them for generations.