more on rhythms…

The last time that I posted, it was about establishing rhythms so that we could actually be placed around people who don’t have a connection with the church of Jesus.  And while it is nice to be able to write/read an article about rhythms, it is another thing to take it and implement it in your life. That is the challenging part of having missional rhythms.

The thing that I tend to do, and maybe you do the same, is to try and make massive leaps to change things right away. If I’m not working out at all, I’ll try to work out for an hour 4 or 5 times in a week. And in all honesty, that is just too much, too quick for me.  The better thing to do would be to introduce your body to just do something for 20 minutes a few times a week. If I’m drinking a lot of pop and eating candy. Then I want to automatically cut it all out cold turkey. That doesn’t always work. It works better to wean myself off those things so that it isn’t such a shock to my body.

bob5I believe that is how introducing new rhythms into your life should be. It shouldn’t be a total 180 because you’ll give up because it will be such a “shock to your system” of daily routines. Like Richard Dreyfuss said in “What About Bob?”, its about baby steps. Baby steps are easier to accomplish than massive leaps.

So, what are new rhythms that you can start to introduce into your life? How do you do that? What does it look like? All good questions, no easy answers. i think you kind of have to pick something and then just risk it and begin.

So, let’s say you like coffee, which a lot of people do. For someone who likes coffee this might be an easy and effective way to introduce a good rhythm for you. Find a coffee shop nearby to where you live and go there. Just go there. Be present. Say hi. Become a regular. Consistency. Meet the baristas. Find out their names. Tell them your name. Get to the point where they know that on Tuesdays and Thursdays at 7 am you will be there. They should expect it. Consistency. Buy a coffee and a muffin whenever you go in. Tip well. Be nice. Ask the Spirit what to do next. Soon enough you will see other regulars, meet them, share life with them when you ask questions, and be able to be friends. And when you are friends with people, and the Spirit will open up opportunities for gospel sowing to take place.

Okay, so you hate coffee, but you like running. Find a close by running trail where there is lots of running traffic. Go there whenever you run. Wave to those who you run by. Be consistent. Run there in the rain, snow and sunshine. Pick up trash when you see it. Walk your dog there too. And pick up his poop. Be consistent. Eat lunch there on the weekends in the sun. Ask the Spirit what to do next. Read a book there too. Make that place your hangout. Soon enough you’ll be able to see others who are regulars as well and talk to them while you are stretching, taking drink breaks, and bragging on your new kicks. Consistency. In time, the Spirit will blossom green sprouts from this new rhythm.

About 2 years ago I began frequenting a little dive bar a couple of blocks away from a house my family was renting. It began with me going in there, ordering a drink, and sitting. I met the bartenders, talked to them, invested myself in them, and tipped them. Then I came back, played the pinball machines, brought others with me, and stayed consistent. I asked the Spirit what in the world He had planned for me there. A few weeks later I was asked if I wanted to start barbacking there on the weekends. I did. That meant sacrificing my nights and early mornings to be there, but I did. They trusted me. I met some of the regular patrons, other barbacks, sound guys. We talk about life now when I see them. After a year I started to get texts from the bartender when he was gonna be gone on Thursdays nights because he knew on that night Jay will be here. He knew it. He could count on it. Thursday nights at this little bar has become a rhythm for me. It has taken awhile, but it has been good. And I believe that God is at work at this bar because of consistency, and believing that God has plans for the people there.

Rhythms have to be tried, tested, and committed to. What will your’s be?

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A Year of Reflection: Friends

It has been a year since my family and I came up to Kansas City to check out the community and work that Midtown Community Church was involved in.  We had come to the place at our church in Tulsa where we felt like it might be time to move on.

Funny thing is – we never even wanted to move back to KC.  I actually had told a church member weeks before we came up to KC that nothing in me wanted to move back to KC.  And now here we are back in KC doing ministry and loving it.  It is kind of like the young person who tells God that He can send her anywhere except for Africa, and sure enough, she ends up in Africa.

But I digress.  I grew up reading the Bible.  After I had grown up I continued to read the Bible.  And still to this day I read the Bible.  And in the course of me reading the Bible I read all the stories about Jesus interacting and hanging out with people who needed Him and weren’t what you would call your typical “church goer.”

I read about how He interacted with these people who were not His followers; how He had meals with them; healed them; spoke to them; gave them dignity.  He actually spent quite a bit of time with those who we might call “lost” today.  He actually sought them out – e.g. the woman at the well, Peter the disciple’s restoration, the little children, and Zacchaeus.

But for some reason when I was growing up – what seemed to be modeled for me by the traditional church was that we only need to make friends with those who like us – i.e. other christians; or maybe even go as far as to make friends with those who aren’t necessarily like us, but are more than willing to start living like us.

Over time I began to know in my mind that wasn’t right.  It wasn’t logical.  It didn’t seem legit when I looked at what people did in scripture.  Dan Kimball says that when someone becomes a christian they have lots of non-christian friends, but as time goes on the number of their non-christian friends seems to drop off until they are barely any.  That type of life really makes living out the Great Commission (“to make disciples”) pretty difficult if you ask me.

I am thankful for the gospel and the grace of Jesus because a year after we have been here I have way more un-saved/non-christian/not-yet-believing friends than I ever have before in my life.  In fact I simply know more people outside of the church now than I ever have before.  And I think that is a really good thing!  And I’m doing my best having Jesus help me out to make them some of His disciples.  I hope they make the jump someday.

The gospel has worked on me a lot to change my mindset to being one that wants to be friends and spend time with not yet believing people.  The past year has been good.