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Category Archives: Missional

For the Overlooked, Ignored, and Misunderstood

We’ve never seen an episode. We couldn’t name all the cast members. We don’t even get A&E on our U-Verse TV package.

siWe have friends who believe Phil Robertson “said what needed to be said.” We have friends who believe Phil Robertson engaged in “hate speech.” We have friends who believe in what Phil Robertson said but not in the way he said it. We have friends who do not believe in either. We have friends who believe Phil Robertson hung the moon. We have friends who believe Phil Robertson to be an idiot.

However, in the midst of this cultural (and very personal) cyclone, what will be the response of Heidi Toole Chappotin and me? Just like the disastrous typhoon in the Philippines and the unfortunate accidental backyard flash fire that burned four Burleson teens, we’re asking ourselves: “How can we helpfully respond?”

To me (Chris Chappotin), much of the “Pro Phil” rhetoric focuses on and challenges Christians to “stand up for what we believe in.” Perhaps I am guilty of a gross generalization; however, I’ve read too many FB and Twitter posts encouraging Christians to boycott A&E, utilize social media to “speak out” on Phil’s behalf, or join him in critiquing homosexuality to conclude otherwise.

Therefore, we’d like to lovingly challenge this language by suggesting something ALL of us, Christian or otherwise, could do with the wages we receive for our first day of work in 2014.

money giftIf we really want to “stand up for what we believe in,” rather than writing a blog post, turning off our favorite TV show, or participating in social media banter, let’s commit to giving away the wages from our first work day in 2014 to someone we know personally who needs the money more than we do.

To be candid, I (Chris) make a little over $200/day, and without trying, I’ve already had 2 friends come to mind who would be enormously blessed to receive that amount. What’s holding me back from freely giving it to them?

We realize that for most of us, this will hurt. For most of us, after we count down the days to Christmas, we count down the days to that first January paycheck. We contend that, if for no other reason, we should give away 2014′s first-days wages because of this reality.

Will you join us? Please don’t “accept” this event invitation if you are not committing to participate. Once you give away your first-days wages of 2014, we invite you to post about your experience on the Facebook Event Timeline. We would love to spend February 1 reading countless stories about how the Holy Spirit worked through our mutual submission to each other and to the overlooked, ignored, and misunderstood people (and potential friends) around us.

The actions or lack thereof of Christians provide fodder for hot-button cultural conversations, and the 24-hour news cycle makes certain that the fervor and emotionally-charged dynamics of the conversations do not fade.

volunteering-and-givingTherefore, once again, let me be clear: We are asking you to join us in giving away all of the wages you will earn for your first day of work in 2014. If possible, please give to someone you know personally. Then, upon completion, post about your experience on the Timeline for this Event.

With subversiveness and savvy, let’s use this reality to our advantage. We follow a Savior, Lord, and Messiah who “stood up for what he believed in” by freely giving his life for the sake of others…even (and especially) the very people who were clamoring for his execution. Let us be known for doing the same.

If you have any questions or suggestions, tweet me. If you would like to join this Event on Facebook, click here.

Will you join us?

Still learning,

 
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Posted by on December 21, 2013 in Missional

 

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7 Ridiculously Easy and Difficult Steps for Starting a Missional Community

I’m 1,200 words into a more in-depth post on these matters. For now, let’s dialogue through the Cliff Notes.

communityStep #1: Pray for Ezekiel 2:2 over and over and over again. How else are you going to get off the ground? Literally.

Step #2: Ezekiel 37:1-14. The Holy Spirit’s filling leads you into ministry. Look for the Lord’s leading into ministry…and respond. In other words, the Lord led you into a valley of dry bones. Prophesy.

*Plan a dessert night to meet your neighbors.
*Serve in the Parent-Teacher Organization of the local elementary school.
*Pray with your friend over the phone.
*Donate your best to a benevolence ministry.
*Host a free cookout for an apartment complex.
*Invite friends to join you in picking up trash at a park.
*Purposely strike up conversations with people at garage sales.
*Ask someone if they are having trouble paying bills.
*Take your kids to offer cold water bottles to people living on the streets.
*Pool money with friends to adopt a ministry project in another country.
*Bake unexpected cookies for your neighbors.
*Listen for the opportunity to initiate or join a spiritual conversation with a coworker. *Advocate for a person living on the margins.
*Huddle with emerging leaders.
*Regularly spend on-purpose time at a restaurant, neighborhood park, or coffee shop.
*Invite parents on your kids’ little league team into your home.
*Begin a “theology night” at a local pub.
*Prayer-walk your neighborhood on a weekly basis.

The Lord filled you and led you into a valley of dry bones. Prophesy.

Step #3: Isaiah 6:7. As he fills you and as you go, leave your inadequacies, failures, and uncleanliness at the altar over and over and over again. Who will go for us? You will go for us, so remember “oh, how he loves us.”

HandsWorldStep #4: Isaiah 40:9. As he fills you and as you go and as you continually confess, bring good news. No, really, bring good news. We suffer from a lack of good news, and you have it…lots of it, so bring it. Don’t be afraid. Say (with your words and your life): “Here is your God!”

Step #5: Acts 2:42-27. As he fills you and as you go and as you continually confess and as you bring good news, embody, incarnate…put-on that good news. Devote yourselves to the Word and the word. Devote yourselves to hanging out with people, letting people leave crumbs under your table, and prayer. Devote yourselves to asking for, expecting, and celebrating wonders and signs. Sell your stuff, and give the money to anyone with a need. Meet daily. Share food with each other. Praise God.

Step #6: John 21:15-17. As he fills you and as you go and as you continually confess and as you bring good news and as you slip into the Gospel, let Him love and restore you and your community over and over and over again…for the sake of others.

Step #7: Repeat.

Still learning,

 
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Posted by on July 2, 2013 in Missional

 

Searching for a Constructive Way Forward

We want a king.

We want a king who will “rule us and lead us and fight our battles.” (1 Samuel 8.20, The Message) Contemporized, we want religious beliefs validated by governmental action. We want governmental stamps of approval on our perspectives. Prove, propagate, and enforce that we are right, oh king.

Tonight, it’s abortion. Yesterday, it was prayer in schools. Tomorrow, it’ll be marriage equality.

We want a king who will “rule us and lead us and fight our battles” by “standing up” (In tonight’s case, literally…) for our point of view. Whether it’s the President, SCOTUS, a state senator, or the local mayor, we want to trust that “right beliefs” will be upheld and governmental action reinforcing “right beliefs” will be enacted.

photoFor example, last night as I perused my local Twitter trends at 10:44pm CST, #sb5, #standwithwendy, and “Sen. Davis” were all trending. Earlier tonight, #wendydavis was in the mix, too. Some believe Texas Senator Wendy Davis to be “standing up” for women’s rights by filibustering Senate Bill 5, and others believe that more restrictive abortion laws are required.

I am not proposing a debate on the issue. Again, I am not proposing a debate on the issue.

We’ve done enough debating. Perhaps, that’s why, according to UnChristian: What a New Generation Really Thinks about Christianity…and Why It Matters by David Kinnaman and Gabe Lyons, 90+% of 18-29 year-olds in the United States perceive Christians as “hypocritical.”

despairwomanblackwhiteInstead, tonight, I’m thinking about friends who have had abortions. They were (and for some…still are) devastated. What was presented as necessary, quick, and just another procedure became haunting, depressive, and regretful. How does a filibuster help them?

Instead, tonight, I’m thinking about babies forming inside mothers…”For You shaped me, inside and out. You knitted me together in my mother’s womb long before I took my first breath.” (Psalm 139.13, The Voice) No development. No opportunities. No voice. How are bumper stickers, bullying, and Bible-waving helping them?

We want a king. A king to tell us that abortion is okay. It’s our body, our right, and our choice.

We want a king. A king to tell us abortion is not okay. God created us in the womb, and we are taking his place in deciding when life begins and ends.

We want a king.

System Default Settings
Christians seem most at home when defaulting to colonization. We’re in town. Everything’s going to be okay as long as you do what we tell you how we tell you. It does not flow off the tongue or sound like a sweet mind-symphony when reading, and it tasted like a stale potato chip to type; however, I feel the perspective has some traction. We like to be in charge and under control. We like to know what to expect.

What do I mean by colonization? Here’s a story I heard originally told in a podcast by David Fitch that I hope illustrates what I’m getting at.

30+ years ago, a United States-based Christian denomination sent missionaries to a foreign country. Upon arriving in the foreign country, the missionaries quickly discovered that polygamy was the accepted and primary marital practice in the culture. Consequently, as part of their gospel presentations, the missionaries began teaching against the marital practice of polygamy. Polygamy was not God’s plan. Therefore, to practice polygamy was wrong, an affront to God, and egregious sin. In order to become a Christian, they preached, one must renounce the practice, divorce all but one wife, and refrain from engaging in polygamy going forward.

Whether or not you agree with polygamy or the missionaries decision on how to engage a polygamous culture is not the point. The point is that this story was shared by Fitch as an example of colonization. Conform to us in thought and practice, and it will go well with you. Do what we say how we say, and do not sway from the blueprint.

So, what happened?

As told by David Fitch, divorced women were put out of the household. Oftentimes, they had no where to go, so they ended up begging and living on the streets. As a result, the female homeless population grew drastically. Also, Christianity became known as a pro-divorce religion. Obviously, neither were outcomes the missionaries expected, hoped for, or desired to perpetuate.

So, what happened?

With support from the United States-based Christian denomination, the missionaries changed their position. They engaged the polygamist culture as missionaries determined to walk alongside people to nurture their relational journeys toward Jesus. This meant the missionaries no longer required belief (and the subsequent divorces) before belonging. They worked within the culture to lead people to Christ. Instead of colonizers, they were missionaries.

A Missionary God. A Missionary People. A Missionary Culture.
Colonies must reflect the thoughts, actions, and loyalties of the mothership. Unchecked insubordination is not to be tolerated, because the system will breakdown. How do you keep colonies from revolting? Primarily, a strong government (i.e. king) that puts (and keeps) them in their place.

We want a king. Regardless of the issue, we want to win people to our position and keep them there. With a king (we tend to believe), this can be accomplished. The more people that gravitate toward our side due to our king’s influence, the better off we will be, because we’re right and they’re wrong. On a side note, perhaps this is the same reason sports stars are selected for television commercials, but that’s another blog for another time.

The problem is colonialism is dead. Well…I don’t know if colonialism is dead or not, but it sure seems like North American culture is post-colonial. In other words, the growing cultural sentiment seems unreceptive to the message of Christianity. In such a cultural context, colonizing proves futile, disconnected, and really hard work. It should not still be news to us, but we (Christians) are not at the center of North American culture; and as a result, we don’t get to make the rules (anymore). Colonizing has no traction when the colonizers are not the dominate societal, cultural, political, and/or religious voices.

So then, if we are colonialists no longer, what are we? Ready? We are…missionaries. We are missions_world_childrens_handsforeigners pushed to the margins of our own culture. However, we are not tasked with resisting or fighting our way back to the center. Instead, from the periphery, we sow and water gospel seeds in cultural soils praying that God gives the increase. With creativity, we tell and live the compelling story of Jesus: healing in brokenness, peace in anxiety, and hope in despair. We embrace the same challenge Jesus gave his disciples, “As the Father has sent me, I am sending you.” (John 20.21, NIV) Like Paul, we are sent into the culture as missionaries “to open their eyes and turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan to God, so that they may receive forgiveness of sins and a place among those who are sanctified by faith in [Jesus].” (Acts 26.18, NIV) And ultimately, they’ll know we follow Jesus by our love.

A Constructive Way Forward
With all this in mind, if we are to embrace this new-to-us role as missionaries, should we #standwithwendy or Rick Perry? Rephrased, should we tighten abortion laws or tighten women’s rights to choose for themselves? What’s a constructive way forward?

FootwashingMissionaries do not ask questions of cultural dominance, propagation, and perpetuation. Instead, missionaries ask questions of cultural understanding, relevance, and service.

How can we plant multiplying mustard seeds in the prevailing cultural context? How can we be little Jesuses in the prevailing cultural context? How can we be known by our love in the prevailing cultural context? Again, what’s a way forward?

I’ll offer three suggestions:

1) With postures of humility, teachability, and shalom, connect with, learn from, and serve a local group seeking to walk alongside women. In my community, it’s the Burleson Pregnancy Aid Center.

2) Prayerfully consider rescuing a baby from abortion through adoption. I am unaware as to all the particulars of how this works, but God powerfully reveals himself when followers of Jesus are about his risky kingdom business. If we (Christians) really want to impact lives for the kingdom of God, laying down our own lives by offering to pick up babies who may be otherwise be aborted seems like something we should willfully explore.

3) Share a meal with a woman or man effected by abortion. Sit with her/him. Hear the story of her/him. Learn from her/him. Encourage her/him. Pray with her/him. And discern where the Spirit’s wind is blowing.

What would you add?

Jockeying for a “more-right” position on social/cultural issues is a great adventure in missing the point…especially for Christians. Putting on skin and moving into the neighborhood…living in the world in ways that are not of the world…now that’s compelling and could possibly grow into something.

They will not know we follow Jesus by our political rallies and affiliations. They will not know we follow Jesus by our hash tags and blog posts (this one included). They will not know we follow Jesus by our pledges of allegiance.

We already have a king, and they’ll know we follow him by our love.

Still learning,

 
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Posted by on June 25, 2013 in Missional

 

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The Most Important Lesson I’ve Learned From a 3-Year Old

Welcome. This is part 2 of a series entitled: “Why Not?” To read part 1, click here.
————————-
batmanmaskI have two sons. The older one thinks he’s Yu Darvish. The younger one thinks he’s Batman. No seriously. Batman.

Not two weeks ago, we hosted a party at our house. A friend of mine introduced himself to my 3-year old:

“Hi little man. I’m Steve.”

His response? “Hey, I’m Batman.”

batmancostumesHe has two costumes: one imitating more of a 1960s TV show Batman, and the other imitating Christopher Nolan’s Dark Knight. Not a day goes by that I’m walking across the living room or down the hall in our home, and Batman comes darting through from behind a couch, door, or underneath a table. In fact, our homeschool room has two half-walls each with two columns extending from the top of the half-wall to the ceiling. Anyway, it is not uncommon for “Batman” to be found scaling and jumping from the top of a half-wall in order to rescue Gotham from imminent destruction.

Did I mention that I have a 16-month old girl, too, and the first three words she spoke were: “Daddy,” “Momma,” and “Batman?” Not. Even. Making that one up.

2012-07-08 16.57.27My 3-year old boy does most things with a scowl, too. Maybe it’s the Batman in him; but oftentimes, he has this edgy, tough-guy look to him. To me, it’s a look of determination. He strives for independence, and does not wait around expecting stuff to be done for him. In fact, just this morning, I caught him at the kitchen table eating peanut butter out of the jar with his fingers for breakfast. He’d climbed up on the counter, opened the appropriate cabinet, and proceeded to sit at the kitchen table and chow down. At least he was at the table and not on the living room floor!

I tell you all of this as background to this afternoon’s BIG event. Yesterday, with a scowl of course, the kid fiercely purported quite an ostensible declaration: “Mom…Dad…I want to ride my bike without training wheels.”

“Are you sure, Buddy?” we gently responded.

“Yes. I’m ready.” he retorted matter-of-factly.

And this afternoon, he did it. He took off across my wife’s grandparents backyard without training wheels. He peddled, leaned into a fence, fell, steered, braced himself before colliding with a storage shed, fell again, avoided a sideswipe attempt from his big brother, and fell again. But he did it. With that scowl of determination, he kept getting off the ground, kept putting himself back on the bike, and kept charting a course into a new adventure.
Why not? What’s he gonna do: fall? Scrape a knee? Kiss a fence? Twist an ankle? Eat dirt? Yup…count on it. But he’s also going to learn how to apply the brakes, how to maneuver a corner, when to speed up, how to maintain balance, and when to keep peddling even though he feels like he’s about to fall.

So again, I ask: why not?

Why not act on tremendous Spirit-initated, Kingdom-advancing, life-altering ideas? Why not join God in his mission through risky endeavors that are going to cost you something for sure?

Take this important lesson shared by a 3-year old and…

You and your community just start, act, launch, go, jump, begin, commence, create, inaugurate, originate, establish, break ground, initiate, embark on, get after it, plunge into, move, pursue, and go get em!

Why not?

Still learning,

 
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Posted by on June 23, 2013 in Missional

 

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Why Not?

Why not?
What’s stopping you? What’s stopping your community? Are the situational possibilities too risky for action, or are the possible situations from your inaction too risky? In other what-if-and-why-notwords, as a result of you and your community doing nothing, will housing, academics, and parent/child relationships actually improve at the elementary school down the road? What about the elderly singles in your neighborhood? What about the unacknowledged, ever-growing, and complicated dilemma of underaged drinking? I could go on, but you get the point.

Problems. Everywhere. Brokenness. Everywhere. Evil. Everywhere. Hidden, lurking, and aggressive. But remember: tomb. empty! I am going to write that one more time: TOMB. EMPTY!

Farewell, Jesus
Remember when Jesus vanished, and the disciples were “looking intently up into the sky” with deer-in-the-headlights eyes and drool rushing out the left side of their mouths? “…suddenly, two men dressed in white stood beside them. ‘Men of Galilee,’ they said, ‘why do you stand here looking into the sky?’”

Consider this blog another form of the same question. This time…for and to us…the 21st century church. Why are many of us standing here looking into the sky? These disciples walked with the King, and so are we. Why are we, oftentimes, paralyzed, down right slow, or just sitting around waiting for Jesus to come back?

Bursting through Hell’s Gates
Let me go at this another way. I know many talented, creative, encouraging, compassionate, dependable, gentle, resourceful, patient, sincere, responsible, alert, benevolent, enduring, cooperative, and generous followers of Jesus. These friends love God, love the church, and generally want to be like Jesus. They have tremendous ideas, and could really initiate an advancement for the Kingdom of God; however, when face-to-face with challenge and invitation to act on their ideas, they seem content to stare into the sky hoping that everyone else will forget about them and simply walk back into the status quo.

To me, that’s a problem. Maybe I’m the only one; however, I cannot help but consider all the compelling and enticing life that could abundantly sprout from the ideas, risks, and vitality of these gifted and empowered Jesus-following friends of mine. So, that’s what this is about.

My friend, Lisa Schwarz, is a stay-at-home, homeschooling mother of 6. Her life was stable, healthy, and admirable until she acted upon an idea given her by the Lord. What about the unrecognized, lost, and forgotten women in her quaint and family-friendly suburban community? Girlfriends kicked to the streets by angry boyfriends? Mothers prostituting themselves to feed their children? Women jumping from man to man in search of identity, belonging, and purpose?

Who is advocating for them? Who is pursuing them? Who is rescuing them?

c8mLisa responded to the Lord’s calling; and consequently, he sent her back into her own city. In March 2013, Crazy 8 Ministries celebrated 2 years of counseling, discipling, conferencing, teaching, and providing. Crazy 8 offers seasons of respite and restoration, biblical counseling, life skills, and benevolence help, and two warm, inviting, and safe homes where they come alongside (formerly) homeless women and children. They are connecting the disconnected to Christ, family, and healing.

Speaking of Crazy 8, one day last summer, Lisa called me, because she needed temporary living space for a new family. Back then, there was only one warm, inviting, and safe home; however, remodeling was in-progress on the structure that would become the second Crazy 8 home. At the time, we did not have room, so I called my friend, Gilberto (aka Gibby).

“Hey dude. Here’s the situtation. Could you take in a mother and her two teen-aged children for ‘a couple weeks?’” I asked.
“Well, we do have an extra bedroom. Let me consult with my wife and call you back.” he responded.

Less than 5 minutes later, Gibby called me agreeing to take in three people he had never met for “a couple weeks.” If I remember correctly, I think “a couple weeks” actually turned out to be four weeks. Regardless, Gibby and his wife were presented with an idea, and instead of retorting with a multitude of reasons as to why the situation would not work for them, they embraced and acted on the idea with a simple “yes.”

Speaking of purposely forging new relationships with unknown people, I have a friend who lives in a nice neighborhood, the kind where hedges are trimmed flawlessly and home-owners associations foam at the mouth for a chance to write corrective letters to residents. One problem though: my friend and his wife abruptly realized they’d lived in this neighborhood for a while, but did not know any of their neighbors. So, they purposely set out to meet and begin relationships with their neighbors by having more of a family front yard presence.

Eventually, they would see a neighbor out picking up the mail, mowing grass, or walking the dog, and conversations would begin. Eventually, they not only learned their neighbors names, but began understanding their likes and dislikes and hearing stories about their lives. Eventually, they invited the neighbors from across the street over for dinner.

breaking-bread2Hospitality. Invitation. Sharing. You are welcome in my home. You are welcome to sit with me at my table. You are valuable enough to me that I am willing to clean my house, craft you a meal, and lock up the dog so he doesn’t bite you on the ankle.

When Jesus lived on earth, table fellowship was a big deal. To recline at the table and share a meal with someone meant something. This description by Mark Moore contains the depth necessary to understand what was happening when Jesus ate with people:

In a social atmosphere that stressed the importance of exclusivism and purity, and in a cultural climate that stressed these invaluables were to be attained through eating, Jesus chose to dine with the most unlikely folk–those outside the community of salvation. He disregarded the laws that governed Israel’s community, which were to bring about Israel’s ultimate hope, and made his own rules. Through his table fellowship, Jesus revealed that forgiveness of sins and readmission into God’s people was attainable through him, not through the traditional, national channels. He also revealed that, on the basis of his own authority, those who ate with him would indeed be accepted by God and invited into his kingdom. In short, Jesus’ table fellowship was an acted parable of renewed Israel.

Somewhere…in the midst of children picking up toys, spaghetti sauce simmering on the stove, and brewing a cup of coffee during dessert, through simple, freely offered table fellowship, my friend and his wife were, as Alan Hirsch describes, “little Jesuses” to their neighbors.

Go Get ‘Em!
Okay, I went on a story-tangent, but for good reason. I’m trying to nail a point, so listen here, my talented, creative, and idea-generating friends. Don’t lose the forest for the trees. I have no idea what that means, but I have always wanted to use it.

leap-of-faith-490x326If you act on your idea, some of you will start non-profits. Some of you will allow strangers to live in your home. Some of you will invite another over dinner. Some of you will do something else that’s equally amazing like anonymously paying for someone’s meal, helping a 3rd grader memorize multiplication facts, starting a prison ministry, organizing weekly prayer walks of your neighborhood, or starting a church in your living room.

Whatever…lay the reasons not to and the results before the Lord.

You and your community just start, act, launch, go, jump, begin, commence, create, inaugurate, originate, establish, break ground, initiate, embark on, get after it, plunge into, move, pursue, and go get em!

Why not?

Still learning,

 
1 Comment

Posted by on June 20, 2013 in Missional

 
 
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