I think the church does a poor job connecting people to the Father Heart of God. For how much Jesus talked about the Father, it seems Christians talk about him far less. Re-read the gospels with this view and I think you’ll be surprised. I think about the disciples saying, “If we can just see the Father, that will be enough.”
1. Many Christians would view their ‘saving’ as that they are saved from Hell. In fact, this becomes central to so many gospel messages to unbelievers that they need to believe in Jesus to be saved from Hell.
2. Many Christians view God the Father as displeased with them.
3. When people talk about heaven, they are more focused on the place and the absence of pain then being in God’s presence.
We miss a lot when we don’t focus on our relationship and connection to God the Father.
I imagine part of the problem is the failure of our fathers and the world’s systematic degrading the role of father in our culture. This Thanksgiving we had 23 hours of travel time to see my family. Over the drive my wife and I listed to a series by Found by your Father by Dave Patty. I was surprised to hear a way of thinking about God the Father and how my own childhood experience with my own family has shaped me. My wife and I wept at times as we prayed through parts of our own story and already I’ve found healing as we went through the process. I highly recommend you check these out.
We see God’s Father heart most clearly when we watch the perfect relationship he has with the Son. At the base, Patty states that Jesus experiences four streams of God’s Father heart and that each of us need that too.
1. Identity – John 5:16-19 Without identity from the Father you will be defined by the people and circumstances around you. This will be constantly changing and unstable.
You will be very vulnerable to your environment and not have a clear sense of self. You will constantly need to prove yourself or defend yourself.
2. Love – John 5:20 Without love, you will be constantly trying to gain love from those near you. Their love will never be enough, and you will be chronically disappointed. You may cope by turning off your emotions and becoming distant and cold.
3. Pleasure – John 5:30, 41-44 Without pleasure from the Father, you will become addicted to pleasing people and vulnerable to hedonism. You may cope by avoiding all possibility of failure or rejection.
4. Place – John 5:21-27 Without place, you will be constantly fighting to make a place for yourself. You will fear that your life has no significance and be easily threatened by
others. You may cope by scaling back your expectations and making a place that is small but defensible – like when people curl up in a ball, hide behind something, or retreat to a corner.
Use his Father mapping tools and see how you’ve experienced these four streams. Learn how these elements are fundamental to spiritual growth, our understanding the good news, our relationship with the Heavenly Father and how these things release us to bring the Father Heart of God to those around us.
Listen: Found by your Father by Dave Patty
This weekend I was thinking about why missional community life often feels broken. More specifically, why do people resist or fight against the call to be missional in community? As I’ve thought about my own experience and gathering from some of what I’ve learned as part of the GCM Collective, I thought of the idea of The 5-Dysfunctions of Missional Community. Agree? Disagree? I would love to hear your take on what I’m saying are the 5-Dysfunctions of Missional Community.
Working theory: Calling people to be missional or in a ‘missional community’, is the absolute wrong place to start. The very name puts the emphasis on the ‘results’ or fruit of the Christian life rather than who they are in Christ. (Aside: If I were to start over, I don’t think I’d call them Missional Communities.) Because, for many, the way of life of the missonal community is so foreign from their Christian/Church experience it ends up being a new law, or way of living they try to perform in their desire to please God. The issue becomes one of needing foundational discipleship for people in order for them to move to a place where living life on mission is a joyful result of a transformed life.
What common dysfunctions cause the mission to be derailed? Here’s what I’ve been toying with called the 5-Dysfunctions of Missional Community. The pyramid on the left represents the corresponding areas of discipleship that would need focus on. The right upside down pyramid represents the ‘right-side’ errors that that need to addressed. (Another set of errors around licentiousness exist).
So what should we do to address these potential dysfunctions? Go after the 5 truths needed that lead to a life of fruitful mission. I’ll unpack these from the bottom, up.
Identity: At the foundation, people’s identity needs to change. First and foremost this begins at conversion, but continues where people see the idea of ‘adoption’ into the family of God as Sons is critical. Often believers struggle with one foot in the world (eg. consumers) versus finding their identity as the Kingdom of Priests. Without this identity changing, it is difficult to move upward. (Part of the reason that I wrote Going Deeper: Preaching the Gospel & Your Identity)
Gospel: After the identity change, people’s motivations come into play. If they are not adopted sons, the legalism/licentiousness errors creep in as people find motivation for acceptance on what they do (orphan mentality) rather than who they are and the grace that changes everything. If the gospel isn’t the motivation, mission will be short-lived.
Glory: Next, people have to see and behold God’s glory and fear him. This will be the beginning of wisdom and cause them to live as God commands.
Worship: Next as these come together an attitude of joyful “I get to” takes place. Rather than duty, mission becomes an act of worship because we are loved by God and love Him.
Spirit: Lastly, we see we cannot do this by our own power. It is only through prayer and seeking the Holy Spirit’s lead can we embark on mission. It is in our resting in God and His Spirit that spiritual fruit is produced.
So, right now my working theory is that we start at the bottom and work up as follows:
What foundational discipleship do you see necessary as you lead your people on mission?