How did Jesus reveal himself to you?

Christ in skyAs I work on my message for this Easter weekend I so desire for people to have a moment to consider the love of Jesus and what that means for their life.

I’m struck by all the ways that Jesus reveals himself to people and would love to hear your story of the first time you encountered the risen Lord.

When did it happen?  Where?  Were you on a spiritual quest or did he surprise you?

 

If you have yet to become a believer have you ever had a transcendent experience you could not explain?  Do you remember you experienced the presence of God?

Now Online: Immigration Transforum

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Recently Colorado Community Church gathered for a Transforum on immigration.

(What’s a Transforum?)

 

 

 

Watch

Responding to the Call of Micah 6.8

Do Justice:

Whose case can I plead?  How can I involve the person who caused the problem in the solution?  What common ground do I have with those also working on this issue?

Love Mercy

Who is sinning and needs forgiveness?  Who is suffering and needs relief?  What basic human need can God use me to meet?

Walk Humbly With God

What would it look like for God to show up?  What can I do?  What can only God do?

Action:  What is God calling you to do?

Click here to download the Immigration Transforum Tool box complete with statistics, organizations and action opportunities

 

(Click Here to Watch Previous Transforums)

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Cultivating Curiosity–The Making of a Multi-Ethnic Church (Conclusion)

As I look back over the last fifteen years of leading a multi-ethnic congregation I am more committed than ever to this beautiful expression of the gospel.  It is a joy to worship in a community that celebrates our God-given differences.

ae86271e9b7fe58dabce3a59b33be7e2Do You Taste Like Chocolate?

In the 1994 movie Corrina, Corrina, there’s a wonderful scene with two little girls that gives hope for what can be in multi-ethnic community.

Molly (a little white girl) says to Lizzie (a little black girl), “Do you taste like chocolate?”  Lizzie responds, “I don’t know, do you taste like vanilla?”

For the next few moments they proceed to lick each others cheeks!

Inquisitiveness is innate to children.  It’s normal for a child to wonder and ask probing questions of discovery.  Inquiry about skin tone and hair texture flows without inhibition. Then we grow up.  As adults we sense the barriers that society has set up and fear keeps us from getting close to them and each other.  Instead we rely on our self-made fig leaves and our shame keeps us from far from each other.  However, when we come to Christ together his grace clothes and opens up new realities.

Multi-ethnic community is about growing young in an environment where curiosity is cultivated as the norm for christian relationships.

(Read part 1, part 2, part 3, part 4, part 5, part 6)

A Jazz-Shaped Faith–The Making of a Multi-Ethnic Church (Part 6)

Depositphotos_11227702_xsMetaphors Matter

Metaphors matter immensely when we cast vision for a multi-ethnic congregation.

How do we communicate the kind of unity that the Spirit of God makes possible?  What image captures the kind of diversity we see at Pentecost?

E Pluribus Unum—from the many one—is the motto for our nation.  But we have had many bad metaphors to communicate this maxim.

For example, the melting pot requires that you give up your unique identity for the sake of the new culture; it’s more about the one than the many.  The salad bowl analogy allows for each part to remain distinct but then we are left to argue as to what our unifying “dressing” should be.  Ultimately it is more about the many than the one.

Ensemble Community

I’m grateful that we have an indigenous metaphor of unity without uniformity.  There is a product of our country that was born out of the tensions of E Pluribus Unum:  Jazz.

Ensemble community balances the individual and the group. Each person remains distinct while playing the same song. Everyone brings who they are to the experience as the Spirit calls out the song.  We live in concert with and for each other.

Click here for more information about Jazz Theology & my book, Finding the Groove:  Composing a Jazz-Shaped Faith 

(Read Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4, Part 5)

Put Your Money Where Your Mouth Is–The Making of a Multi-Ethnic Church (Part 5)

Fostering a Culture of Diversity

We need to distinguish between being multi-ethnic and diverse.  A diverse church moves beyond black and white.  Colorado Community Church is not just ethnically eclectic but we enjoy denominational, theological, political, age and spiritual diversity too.

This is fostered in two ways:  1) Our view of the larger body of Christ and 2) our approach giving.

hands symbol of diversity

Weaving a Fabric of Friendship:  We truly believe that Jesus only sees one church when he looks at our city–it just happens to meet in 1500 locations!  The Body of Christ spoken of in I Corinthians 12 is not about one local church but all the local expressions of the church in a particular city.  That being the case our desire is to play our role in relationship to the other expressions of Jesus’ church.

We recognize that we are only a small part of a larger whole and for our city to be reached we must seek to unify the church to serve the needs of our community.  It is imperative that we build kingdom partnerships with other ministries across racial, class and denominational lines.

Growing Fruit on Other’s Trees:  This is expressed most practically in our generosity.  In an attempt to live openhandedly with the blessings of God we ask every member to give generously to God but NOT to give it all to Colorado Community Church.  We budget based upon half of our people’s giving thus freeing them up to radically bless others.

WE CALL THIS 5 + 5:  Everyone is encouraged to give a least ten percent of their income to God; half  to the church and the other half they hold on to to give outside our walls to other churches and ministries.  This forces us to put our money where our mouth is when it comes to diversity.  Jesus taught us that our heart follows our treasure and we want our hearts connected with our brothers and sisters wherever they worship in our city.

Ultimately, this way of thinking only furthers the culture of diversity within our own congregation.

Dr. David Anderson, pastor of the vibrantly multi-ethnic Bridgeway Community Church, writes about the art of inclusion in his book Gracism.   He defines this new term saying, it is “the positive extension of favor on other humans based on color, class or culture.” Grace crosses all barriers, not just race.

Anderson says that one way gracism plays itself out is through grace-onomics:  “…the leveraging of financial and relational networks to help others succeed in their economic worlds…Grace-onomics are acts of gracism as they relate to money, class, opportunity and justice.  Such acts are at the heart of reconciliation”

(Read Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4)

“A” Value Not “The” Value–The Making of a Multi-Ethnic Church (Part 4)

“A” Value Not “The” Value

I believe we set ourselves up for failure when we make diversity “the” value instead of “a” value in a church.  When it is “the” value it is front and center and all we see.  When it is “a” value it is always on our radar screen but not the dominant priority.

??????????????????????????For us at Colorado Community Church becoming multi-ethnic was not the primary goal.  Our focus was our call to transform our city and beyond by connecting people to Christ, community and calling.  That is what is front and center for us.

As we live this out there are many convictions that guide us (nine to be exact). One of these is that we are inter-cultural thus we celebrate our God given differences in all aspects of ministry. Diversity is “a” value for us but not “the” value that is given precedence above all others.

(Read Part 1, Part 2, Part 3)

First and foremost the mission of the Church is to grow the saved, reach the lost and care for the downtrodden.  It is a gathering where Christ is worshipped; His Word is proclaimed; people are inspired, equipped and mobilized to serve Him; and where care, prayer and family are available to all.  Not being multi-ethnic can hinder this mission but we mustn’t think that it is the mission.

Horst and Greer say that there is an unspoken crisis facing leaders:  Mission Drift.  They write, “Without careful attention, [churches] will inevitably drift from their founding purpose and mission.  It’s that simple.  It will happen.”  Mission Drift is prevalent but not inevitable.  “Mission True organizations know why they exist and protect their core at all costs.”

Taste of Heaven–The Making of a Multi-Ethnic Church (Part 3)

hands symbol of diversityTaste of Heaven

As a Christian, the pursuit of a multi-ethnic worshipping community is a response to what we read and see in the scriptures.

We want to be the answer to Jesus’ prayer:  “May they be brought to complete unity to let the world know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me.”  (Jn. 17.23)

Martin Luther King Jr. had a dream but we serve the King who prayed for and paid for the dream to become a reality.

Jesus taught us to pray for life on earth to be “as it is” in heaven.  When John glimpsed eternity he saw, “every nation, tribe, people and language standing before the throne and in front of the lamb.” (Rev. 7.9)  That is so beautiful.  When heaven arrives and we receive our glorified bodies our ethnicity and nationality will still be distinguishable.

A multicultural church wants a taste of heaven now.  As followers of Christ we seek “as it is” moments.  Worshipping and serving as a multi-ethnic congregation is a preview of heaven.  It is one of those rare times that heaven and earth meet.

Efrem Smith in his book, The Post-Black & Post-White Church, reminds us that this was the goal of the civil rights movement.  Smith wrote, “The multi-ethnic and missional church as a Christ-centered community becomes the beloved community that Martin Luther King Jr. spoke of.”  The church remaining segregated was ultimately the source of King’s nightmare and the King of Kings heartache.

(Read part 1)

(Read part 2)

Join the conversation:  What do you think about the concept that your view of eternity should inform the kind of church you choose today?

40 Days of Mercy–Fasting and Feasting with Jesus

All aloneDuring lent we walk with Jesus in the desert as he fasted from food but feasted upon the word of God. (Lk. 4.1-13)  The goal of lent is not just to give something up but to replace it with substance that feeds our soul.

God’s mercy is sustenance for our soul because we all sin; suffer; suffer because of sin and sin to alleviate our suffering.

I love what the psalmist said when he cried out to God,

Turn to me and have mercy on me, as you always do to those who love your name.  Ps. 119.132

The cross is the greatest act of mercy in history and this season prepares us to celebrate that fact.  During Lent I’ll regularly post meditations on the mercy of God, verses to memorize and reflection questions to facilitate this process.

Let us feast upon the compassion and clemency of God.

Today, let’s begin by memorizing Ps. 119.132 together.