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Lent 2013, Entry 20

I’m reading a book by an author I like, Matt Smay. It’s called Transcend: Beyond the Limits of Discipleship. The crux of the book is that many people feel like they’re “stuck” in their walk with Christ…or maybe have “plateaued” and there seems to be no more growth. To borrow a phrase from Dr. Suess, it’s mainly about “unslumping yourself” which is not easily done.

Anyway, I won’t re-hash his re-hash of the ineffectiveness of the American church’s difficulty in making and growing disciples of Christ (but if you’re not familiar with that and really believe the Church here is doing a bang-up job, then this would be a good introduction to it), but there are a few quotes that might get your brain engaged over the cup of joe this morning:

First, on the idea that one reason individuals plateau is that the “system” in place is basically bringing people to the church/professionals so they can explore the faith:

The problem with relying so heavily on church services and leaders to the the exposing is that it is inefficient. Much of what holds back the church is its inability to mobilize its most valuable resource–the people of God. I’m not talking about making everyone something they’re not. I’m talking about helping every follower of Jesus discover their identity and calling as people entrusted with the good news of the Gospel, living a lifestyle of love in relationship with those inside and outside the faith.

First, do you think we do rely heavily on bringing people to the main services to point them toward the faith, as well as letting the “professionals” handle that? What is your experience and/or observations with this idea?
Second, do you think most believers know their identify and calling and giftedness? If so, why wouldn’t they be using them? If not, why don’t they?
Finally, do you think most believers have many true relationships outside their faith? If not, why don’t they?

Piggy-backing on that line of thinking, like many other authors, Smay points to the idea that getting out of our comfort zones–running counter to the world system culture in the U.S.–to help us “unslump” ourselves:

We have embraced the idea of entitlement that implies we should never have to deal with discomfort of any type. We attempt to self-medicate it away with busyness, comfort, entertainment, drugs, alcohol, or money. All of the big promises leave us feeling empty.

God calls us to a different story. A story where He loves us more than words. A story in which He calls us into a Kingdom reality that has significance, meaning, and purpose beyond our own ambitions. When we choose to live God’s story and not our own, people notice. When we choose to love in a sacrificing and radical way, heads turn, and people are faced with the choice to embrace a bigger story of God in their life–a choice to join a loving relationship with the Creator of the Universe.

For us to feel discontent enough in our own life to make this choice, we must first see and experience the Kingdom lifestyle lived out.

First, if we know the “big promises leave us feeling empty,” why do we still choose the “comfort” they offer?
Second, can seemingly “normal” careers, occupations and hobbies be “sacrificing and radical?” If so, how do we make that happen?
Finally, what do you think Smay means by “seeing and experiencing the Kingdom lifestyle lived out?”

That ought to get you going today, patrons…