Mission, Community, Sabbath: Evangelical Neglect

In casting vision for Coram Deo, we’ve talked a lot about mission and community, and how much of evangelicalism has lost sight of them. Many churches are guided by comfort, not mission. And programs have replaced authentic community. Blah, blah, blah. This should be old hat by now.

But what about Sabbath? The idea of resting – worshipful resting – has also been lost by American Christianity. After all, we’re busy. Not just busy with life, but busy with church. Busy with ministry. Busy with trying to be missional! So busy that we’ve conveniently relegated the 4th Commandment to the Old Testament, as though God no longer cares that we rest and remember him. Ask any evangelical Christian about the Sabbath, and you’ll get hemming and hawing and stalling that resembles FEMA talking about Hurricane Katrina last week.

I’m finding that a community of believers modeled around spiritual formation and mission actually enhances Sabbath as well. (Could it be that God intended it to be so?) This past weekend was one of the most restful in recent memory. And I mean restful in a spiritual sense, not in a mind-numbing, entertain-yourself-to-death sense. On Sunday, we had a bunch of Coram Deo people over for a leisurely breakfast. We spent the morning talking and praying about what God was doing around us. Then we all went our separate ways, took naps, and headed downtown for the evening gathering. Afterward, I went down to Septemberfest with some more Coram Deo folks to watch Common Jones play some quality music.

On Labor Day, I took a walk with my family. Some people down the street got TP’d the night before, so we all pitched in to help them clean up. I played baseball with my son in the front yard. We grilled out with some more friends from Coram Deo, and they brought along a guy from their apartment complex that they’ve been reaching out to. He is a young follower of Christ, still trying to get his life together, and he spoke honestly about some of the challenges of overcoming his past. It was a great time. Then more naps and relaxation and hanging out as a family.

Then, after the kids went to bed, we spent 2 hours with some awesome friends who just got back from a year in India. We didn’t even begin to scratch the surface of all that God did in their hearts over that year, but it was great just to be with them. We closed the night in prayer about 11 PM, sharing with them the burden of transitioning back into a society where materialism and consumption are the norm, and where true community is abnormal. They have much to teach us about the other side of the world, about God, and about living simply.

Unplugging from the paranoid pace of evangelicalism and making space for community and mission makes true Sabbath possible. This way of doing church is good for the soul.

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