I have had a few very interesting conversations with some men whom I respect, both men are significantly older than I am. I should also say I have a high regard for their opinions as well. During the course of two different conversations on separate dates I brought up the idea of legacy. I was astonished at how quickly each man reacted, as if I had called them a name. ”What is so bad about legacy, I asked?”
Man one, “it’s arrogant and self serving.”
Man two, “I’m not looking for recognition for the things i do.”
On both occasions I was certain they had completely missed the point. Their angst saddened me and awakened in me a need to redefine legacy, perhaps that will be mine. I can’t blame either man, the idea of legacy has been tainted. Most often these days it’s a word used when discussing money. People request buildings to be named after them, as legacy. People have their names stamped on pews of churches as legacy. Non-profits refer to legacy donations, which is a donation committed in a will… like one you give after you die. This sounds very much like an arrogant display or people looking for recognition. It usually results in things like the sunday school classroom with the nice furniture I was never allowed to take teenagers into.
We must redefine legacy, mainly because my generation needs the benefit of it so desperately. In the simplest terms, I would say to the men and women who are moving into retirement age, “keep your money and tell us your stories.” Legacy is not about tangible things. Legacy is pouring our lives into the next generation so that they might live with the integrity of the past generation. Legacy is not about money.
Right after college I had the opportunity to serve in a great church downtown in Houston. Like most young youth pastors I was fired up. One of the first request I received was from a parent who asked if I would mentor their son. He had gotten into some trouble early in high school, had been sent off to military school, and then landed back in Houston for his senior year. He told me that while he was at military school he gave his life to Christ. I was thrilled to be a part of this guys life and to disciple him, he too was fired up.
One morning I rolled into work around 10AM, that’s the official start time for most youth pastors. I walked into my office and was surprised to find my “disciple” sitting on the couch. I asked him, “why aren’t you in school?” He looked me right in the eyes, with no shame, and said, “I got suspended.” Now I am thinking, “great i have already failed, my first disciple is suspended.” He explained what happened, “Man, I was walking down the hall of my school today and this guy took the Lord’s name in vain… so I punched him in the face.”
Wow! Talk about not getting it, right? Well actually, I have thought about that story a hundred times and after giving it some thought I think he may be closer to to who we should be than I am most days. I am not suggesting we start throwing punches but I am wondering if we should at least throw over some tables. Let’s face it the church surrenders more of it’s culture shaping influence every day. If we are going to change the system it’s going to take leaders who are willing to stand up for Jesus.
This past Sunday I preached out of the gospel of Mark, Chapter 2:23 through 3:12. As I was reading through the passages I made sure everyone noticed the punctuation. Jesus is clearly angry, it actually says He was. When he calls up the man with a withered hand the sentence ends with an exclamation. Too often, we picture Jesus as a withdrawn emotionless character. On more than one occasion, recorded in the Gospels, He was visibly angry. Not only do we see raw emotion but in other places we can see His transparency. Whether he is weeping over the death of his cousin or lamenting the path Jerusalem chose, Jesus was forthright about how he was feeling.
This should be an example to all of us as we prepare to preach this coming Sunday. Preach Naked. I have heard it said that when the people in our church hear us preach the very worst part of them is listening to the very best of us. Everyone brings baggage into church and everyone assumes they are the only one with baggage. As communicators we have the opportunity to open our hearts and at times spill our guts. When we are transparent others respond. We create a sacred space where it’s okay for everyone to admit they are messed up. Consider your message this coming Sunday and ask how will you let the people in your church see how real you really are?
Go out and train everyone you meet, far and near, in this way of life, marking them by baptism in the threefold name: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. —Matthew 28:19-20 (The Message)
Historically Christians have done a lot of stressing out about the above passage, especially Christians who have to figure out how to follow God and keep their day job. If you aren’t in a place to sell your possesions and move to Africa, the idea of evangelism can seem frustrating, not inspiring. I was recently reminded by a simple conversation that evangelism is a lifestlye of simply knowing the people God places in your path every day. My wife had an idea one evening to walk over to our neighbors house to say, “Hi.” They have a son just a little older than ours. We have occasionally hung out, but for the most part live separate lives. After returning from the neighbors house, Shannon informed me that just a couple of months back his wife left him and his four-year-old son. He was struggling to make ends meet and trying to figure out how to parent a four-year-old through a nasty divorce. I was instantly convicted, my neigbor’s life was falling apart and the pastor next door was completly oblivious.
The opening two words of this verse say it all: “Go out.” The recent encounter Shannon had with our neighbor reminded me before we fly to the ends of the earth to share the good news of Christ, there are people in our direct circle of influence who desparately need people of faith to just ask them how their lives are doing.
There are three people we all need to meet: Our neighbor, our barista, and our coworker/classmates. Everyday we drive past our neighbors homes, we take coffee from our barista (that’s the people in the coffee shop. If you don’t drink coffee consider the people you buy stuff from on a regular basis.), and we sit next to coworkers and classmates. Instead of flying half way around the world to make an impact, try taking two minutes to introduce yourself to these people. God has ordered our steps. The people you see everyday are a great place to start in living out the commands in Matthew 28.
By the way, my Barista’s name is Carlos.
Behold, I will do something new, Now it will spring forth; Will you not be aware of it? I will even make a roadway in the wilderness, Rivers in the desert. -Isaiah 43:19
God is doing a “new thing” in our city. Amongst the great churches in San Antonio we are planning to launch a new one. We are blessed to have been given the support of Community Bible Church as we launch out to gather this new community. The journey begins today for The Park Community Church.
Does San Antonio need another church?
Without question! As we can see the churches in the city are doing an awesome job and serve as a light to the city but we are all to aware of darkness that still exist. Our prayer is that God will bless our community to stand among so many others to speak the truth of God into a lost world.
The Park DNA is comprised of three building blocks: Passion, Compassion, & Wisdom
- The Passionate Pursuit of God. Each of us is hard wired by God to long for spirituality, to ask the question is there more? We believe the pursuit of God is a life long quest, one we are individually called to. In Christ we find God, but the journey continues as we daily try to know more of the heart of God.
- Overflowing Compassion for People. There is something deep inside of us that knows we need to be connected to other people. Even more, we know we are called to make a difference in the world. Our prayer is, as a church, we would extend daily compassion to one another and as a community we would be known for overflowing compassion to the social injustices of our world.
- Godly wisdom in every day decisions.
Our attention is often divided between what seems to be wise and what the scriptures outline as actual wisdom. We trust in God as the author of creation and; therefore, believe He offers us the very best way to live. As we apply the scriptures to our daily lives our faith becomes alive.
We are asking 5 things of everyone we know, and anyone we can meet…
- Pray for us. Our dream is to gather a community whose calling is the passionate pursuit of God, overflowing compassion for people, and Godly wisdom.
- Network For us. We are willing and ready to grab a cup of coffee, or a meal, and tell anyone about our vision. Connect us.
- Support us. We have committed our time and money to this new church. We are asking you to do the same.
- Join us. We will begin meeting soon, if you want to join us then e-mail me email@example.com and we will keep you up to date.
- Lead with us. Our passion is to build a leadership culture sending people into the city for ministry. If you think God may be calling you to leadership in this new church then let me know your heart. e-mail me… firstname.lastname@example.org
As we build steam we are looking forward to a citywide launch service on Easter Sunday, April 4 at Orsinger Park. It’s going to be an amazing journey, you are invited to join us.