Category Archives: missional monks
And yet, we could look back to the beginning of the Bible and notice that God’s command to the first people was, “be fruitful and multiply.” I think a case could be made that while that text is speaking about the need for Adam and Eve to have children and populate the earth, it is also a prophetic text speaking forward to the mission of God’s people (don’t be satisfied keeping the blessing of relationship with God to yourselves – invite others into this life with you).
However, if we choose to stick with the claim that we should first pursue faithfulness rather than fruitfulness, we must be careful not to create a false dichotomy. There’s no need to see these two matters in competition with one another. Indeed it is God who brings the growth, and both scripture and experience testify that God is quite interested in bringing about this growth. If we are faithful we should expect to see fruit. We’ll see it in our own lives and the lives of those with whom we come into contact – Jesus said that fruit is the evidence of a healthy organism (whether its a fig tree, a disciple or a community of disciples).
Remember Jesus’ statement in Luke 10 – the harvest is plentiful, pray to the Lord of the harvest to send out workers into his field.
For the church, fruit and harvest represent BOTH continually maturing lives of discipleship among the faithful AND introducing new people to the life of faith (those whose hearts the Holy Spirit is already at work preparing). If new people are “joining” the church but discipleship isn’t taking root in their (and our) lives, this should be an enormous red flag for the community of faith. However, we should also be concerned when months and years pass while the same group of people sits around looking at each other wondering (or not even thinking about) why nobody else seems drawn the message we’re proclaiming.
This week our prayers focus on the harvest and bearing fruit. I am convinced that if we are committed to living out the matters we’ve spent the last 6 weeks praying; if we live with gratitude, wisdom, faithfulness, courage, intent on discipleship, seeking partners, focused on God’s mission, then God WILL bring about fruit and growth in our lives and in our community. If we turn our attention to these matters in the church, in our local community, in the global community, among the poor as well as in our own lives, the Holy Spirit WILL bring us into contact with people who are searching for God even if they aren’t aware of it yet.
Certainly it is possible to put the cart before the horse in regards to “growth.” That is part of the reason we saved the theme of harvest and fruit for last in this season of prayer. However, in both our church planting work and in the ministry of Intentional People, we are engaged in serving others because of the work of Christ – the work of remaking creation and inviting all people to take their place around the table with Jesus.
Lord of the Harvest, we praise you for your concern and compassion for all people. We rejoice that you have done all these things so that people everywhere may seek you and find you, though you are not far from any one of us. Lord, we give you thanks for the ways in which you have brought about growth in our lives and in our communities. God, we pray that we will continue to live fruitful, productive lives as your disciples; that our love for one another, for you and for our neighbors will be evident to all. We desire these things, O Lord, because we have seen them first in you. You are the God of steadfast love, you are the Holy One who has not stayed far off, you are the Lord of the Harvest. Father, we pray that you will continue to work in us and conform us more fully into your image. You are the only one who is worthy of emulation and you are the only one who brings about new life.
We began this season of prayer by focusing on gratitude and joy for what God has been doing, and we begin this final week with gratitude for the fruit and harvest that God has already brought. So…where have you already seen evidence of God bringing about growth in your life? For what do you need to express gratitude to God as we begin this week?
22 News of this reached the church in Jerusalem, and they sent Barnabas to Antioch. 23 When he arrived and saw what the grace of God had done, he was glad and encouraged them all to remain true to the Lord with all their hearts. 24 He was a good man, full of the Holy Spirit and faith, and a great number of people were brought to the Lord.
25 Then Barnabas went to Tarsus to look for Saul, 26 and when he found him, he brought him to Antioch. So for a whole year Barnabas and Saul met with the church and taught great numbers of people. The disciples were called Christians first at Antioch.
What does it mean to be satisfied with enough? Are there areas in your life where you need to learn to be content in God’s enough? Are there ways in which your abundance could be simplified to share with those who go without? These questions can be a mere intellectual activity…or they can lead to real, meaningful action. The choice is ours.
1 And Saul approved of their killing him.
On that day a great persecution broke out against the church in Jerusalem, and all except the apostles were scattered throughout Judea and Samaria. 2 Godly men buried Stephen and mourned deeply for him. 3 But Saul began to destroy the church. Going from house to house, he dragged off both men and women and put them in prison.
4 Those who had been scattered preached the word wherever they went. 5 Philip went down to a city in Samaria and proclaimed the Messiah there. 6 When the crowds heard Philip and saw the signs he performed, they all paid close attention to what he said. 7 For with shrieks, impure spirits came out of many, and many who were paralyzed or lame were healed. 8 So there was great joy in that city.
I know this is something I’ve called us to previously…it seems worthy of repeating. As you go about your normal routines today, keep your eyes open to places in your community where God is already at work around you and consider how you can join in God’s mission. Also be on the lookout for strongholds of darkness where the life, light and hope of God needs to break in…how can you be an instrument for God’s kingdom in those places? If you’ve already identified some of these places, share with us! And…what ways are you already (or planning to) joining God in those places?
Acts 6:1-10 (New International Version)
Partners and Community for Ourselves
God, Community of Love, you have created us to live in community rather than isolation. We pray, for our own continued health, that you will surround each of us with friends and family committed to a shared vision of following you together. We pray for the leadership of Intentional People, that these families will continue to cultivate trust and friendship, so that each will be nurtured and encouraged to continue serving others. We pray for our new church plant, that relationships will be strengthened and cultivated so that we will continue to move forward in discipleship with joy and passion. In both of these endeavors we continue to pray for those you are raising up to partner together in different ways. Grant us wisdom and discerning hearts to protect one another from those who would do us harm and guide us forward in cultivating community in the places where you have placed us.
Back on Sunday, we asked you to be praying for financial, prayer and ministry partners for both Intentional People and our church planting efforts. Has God put any names on your heart? If so, would you consider speaking with them about these ministries? Please also feel free to contact us with names of these potential partners. Are there ways in which God may be laying it on your own heart to join with us in some way or to take the next step toward deeper connection? Again, we are extremely grateful to you for joining us in this season of prayer. We thank God for your partnership in the gospel.
Cultivating Community with The Poor and Oppressed
God, Community of Love, we want to follow in the footsteps of Jesus. We want to be known as “friends of sinners,” we desire to show solidarity with and developing community among the poor, the overlooked, forgotten and oppressed. Open our eyes to see these people which our society tries so hard to ignore and open our hearts to see them instead as you see them, as your beloved children. God we pray not only for opportunities to extend hospitality to the poor, but also for the grace to receive it. Grant us the honor of affirming the dignity of your image bearers who may have, this very day, been denied that birthright. God we acknowledge that among impoverished communities there is much darkness, sin and violence. We pray that you will bring light, repentance and peace to these places and that you will use us as your cracked and humble vessels in doing so.
Today, would you ask God to reveal ways in which Intentional People can serve as an encouragement to the poor and oppressed? We pray for partners and a growing community of people working together to eradicate the darkness around us through the Light of God that is within us. We have been blessed as part of Christ Journey to serve the poor in this area, and have cultivated some lasting friendships. We pray that this will continue as we launch out with our new church planting work as well.
Cultivating Community in the Global Community
God, Community of Love, we are citizens of your kingdom which transcends national and ethnic boundaries. Teach us, Lord of Light, to see this world through your eyes and not be blinded by narrow, nationalistic thinking. Holy God, we pray that Intentional People will serve as a resource for inspiring those whom you are preparing to serve in various ways throughout the global community. We place our hands, our talents and our lives at your service to bless and encourage others wherever you may send them. In the same way, Father, we pray that our local church planting work will not lose sight of your love and concern for all people everywhere. Guide us in loving and caring for those who live across the street and together with them, in being mindful of those who live across the oceans. As citizens of your vast empire, God, Community of Love, erase from us any selfish desires or agendas for building empires of our own. We confess Jesus the Christ as both our savior and our Lord, to the glory of the Father and through the power of the Holy Spirit.
Do you know someone who is working to build community or bring hope amidst the global community? If so, we would love to connect with them and perhaps even interview them for the Intentional People Video Project or the Missional Monks podcast. As we pray together, we invite you to think about and approach God with us regarding those we can partner with to inspire others.