If you weren’t at church on Sunday, this won’t make much sense. You can listen to the audio on our podcast or download it from the Resources section (Sermon Categories > Vision and Values > “What is a Mature Christian?”) If you were at church, this better make sense. Let the conversation begin …
(TIP: Click on the image to bring it up in a new window so you can see the text)
*Gospel-centered missional Community (The Heart of Things)
The Kingdom of Light:
Gospel – Salvation in Jesus
Community – Fellowship with one another
Mission – In the world so others may see and believe
Discipleship to Jesus:
Ongoing belief and application of His reemptive work → Personal transformation
Commitment to His body → Community restoration
Obedience to His mission → Kingdom expansion
“Drop Your Nets” → New identity, new community, new purpose
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In case the title throws you off, our unofficial name for this diagram is “US-71” because Will thought of it while he was driving down US highway 71 (somewhere near Joplin, Missouri). His phone call to me went something like, “Hey, get out a piece of paper and write this down for me… I just thought of a good illustration, but I can’t write it out because I’m driving.”
I haven’t had the chance to listen to yesterday’s sermon, so forgive me if I am speaking out of place. I think that this illustration hits the heart of how the gospel is in relationship with the larger spiritual transformation picture. But also this causes tension with last weeks’ sermon of how mission should be at the core of our being and not just another add-on to our daily to-do list.
Listen to the sermon and see if it helps you connect the two. This grid definitely puts mission at the center of everything, the same way we talked about last week.
I love this diagram, and was totally at the Cru Fall Retreat Will claimed was the first place he’d ever used it. It was also used greatly at DWC. It really puts some things into perspective we don’t tend to see.
I would have to say that the diagram does still hold true when looking through the view of mission at the core. I was making the mistake pre-sermon of looking at the white space included in the mission circle(the ‘activities’ that we associate with mission that WE try to do on our own apart from God to an extent). But to get to the heart of God’s desire for mankind incorporates these functional groups(along with a few other things like confession of sins) and mission IS at the center of that. Mission simply shares the center with community and gospel in equalibrium.
My anti-corporate sensibilities are rebelling at the glossy tidiness with which this graphic encompasses the messy reality of existence. This isn’t a criticism, it’s a confession. I’m missing the point because of the packaging, and I’m repenting… but could we get a little dirt up in here?
Lane, do not mistake simple for easy. I think the direction of where we are going, and the vision of discipleship to Jesus is somewhat simple. It’s the pursuit of the vision that is hard and messy. In other words, we are the dirt.
That said, I want to be clear that I am not married to this diagram. I’m not even trying to defend it. It is fluid in my mind, and is not two dimensional as we have drawn it, but 4-d and multi-faceteded. It’s not the whole picture of life, but rather an attempt to think about life more holistically than we often do.
So I asked Walker: if you’re not “married” to this diagram… if you’re “not even trying to defend it…” then why should the rest of us pay attention to it? Come on, be more assertive about how good it is.
To which he responded: “I think it represents the Bible’s teaching as far as I understand it to this point in my life.” So that’s a good, confident statement that preserves an appropriate level of humility.
“We are the dirt.” Classic.
Is there any way to get the diagram to reflect the fact that the gospel is the thing that defines what community and mission should look like? I understand that when you “push down” into community and mission those things will direct you to a need for the gospel, but I think that they are still fundamentally dependent on the gospel. The academic truths and basic knowledge that can be found in the “white space” of the gospel still have an important role in defining mission and communinty, whereas the worldly concepts in the “white space” of community and mission do not define the gospel. To restate our core values in a somewhat different way: the gospel is second only to God in its primacy because it changes everything, even mission and community.
From what I can gather so far, this diagram is trying to drive home the point that a life lived out of a real belief in the Gospel will be a life lived in the center of the diagram. With that in mind, would the diagram still work if we changed Gospel to “The Bible” or “Biblical Truth” or something that references the mere academic precepts of the Bible? Maybe the “heart of things” could be changed to “the Gospel” and “living in the Gospel” could come to be defined as Bible-centered Missional Community. I think this change might reflect the idea that mental assent to Biblical truth can exist outside of mission and community, but the reality of the gospel can not.
As far as I can tell, the greatest weakness that I can see in my proposal is the fact that I have such a hard time living anywhere near the “Heart of Things.” I believe that I love the gospel and want to live it out, but I would hate to have a conception of the gospel that kept me so far from it most of my life.
Regardless of what I just said, I do like the sound of “Gospel-centered Missional Community” and “The Heart of Things” better. Those terms seem to carry more subjective meaning for me than “Bible-centered.”
I hope that this comment at least gives you some good target practice. Ready…Aim…
The gospel is on top to reflect its centrality in defining the other two. I am with you on that. The thing with any diagram is that it isn’t meant to tell the whole story. It is a visual starting point from which you can relate passages and stories and other concepts. So what you are saying about the importance of the goe gospel is good. I just think it may be something you have to say.
Your second paragraph interests me , but I don’t know what to do with it yet.
One thing I did not mention in the sermon — an important thing — is that the middle is not some unattainable destination. It is a reality, like the kingdom, that we move in and out of — in by faith and repentance and obedience, and out by self-absorption, self-rightesouness, self-promotion, and the like.
I do experience gospel centered missional community, and I don’t.
Back to your thoughts about the gospel, and where it goes on teh diagram, I wonder if the hurdle is still the way you are defining the gospel. To me, it’s not that different than “The Bible”, because the Bible is the story of God and man and Jesus. Our gospel presentations are merely a distilliation of the whole story. They are not a bad place to start, but I would not say the gospel ends there.
So, the gospel being on top in this “US-71” diagram is an important aspect? I was coming at it with all the circles as equal importance and that didn’t seem to jive with my understanding of the gospel. The way I’ve been thinking about it is that everything must flow from the gospel. In simple not well nuanced statements: Mission is preaching the gospel and community is living the gospel. Of course part of mission is living the gospel and part of community is preaching it, but you get my drift right? 🙂
So, the location of the gospel circle is on top because everything flows from the gospel? Or is it that all the circles have the same importance and need to all fit together and have equal importance in our lives in order to mature as a Christian?
If the second idea is the correct understandng, then I think I would agree with Nick. I think I prefer the gospel circle to be labeled something different. Like knowledge or something.
I dunno, but I did graduate from a private Christian college so I’m probably smarter than you so…wait, did I say that out loud!? Sh..I mean…crap! hahaha
(Please, no one take the above line seriously. It is a joke that stems from my own insecurities of what people might think of me or how I portray myself)
Technicalities of a diagram aside, you struck a chord in me Will when you talked about people talking a lot about things but not doing much about it. I definitely tend to lean that way and it drives me nuts when I see it in me.