Growing up we all heard our mother say, “What are you up to in there?” Clearly the sounds she was hearing were cause for concern. And, like all kids, we gave the classic reply: “Nothing.” Oh, we were so far from the truth, but with good reason. We were having the time of our lives and didn’t want to stop.
This story gets inverted when it comes to our relationship with God. We hear something going on in another church or ministry or city and ask God, “What are you up to over there?” And He answers, “Why don’t you check it out? I’d like for you to join the fun!”
God is “up to something.” The question is, Do we know God well enough to know what He’s up to? When I went to India in February 2012, I witnessed what God was “up to.” When I meet monthly with a group of local pastors for prayer, I’m not surprised to find that God is “up to” something in each of their lives and ministries. When I read from the various magazines and blogs I like, I see afresh what God is “up to.”
The effect this has is simple: I want to be a part of it. Don’t you? That’s why we need to regularly ask ourselves--individually and collectively—Are we up to what God is up to?
What has helped me and our church to grasp this better is to focus on God’s divine design for the body of Christ. Think of it as the DNA of the church. Leonard Sweet describes this well in his book, So Beautiful: Divine Design for Life and the Church. The Divine Design is MRI--Missional, Relational, and Incarnational.
You’ve heard it said that “What we treasure we measure.” Mission is where God’s head is at. Relationship is where God’s heart is. Incarnation is what God’s hands are up to. Sweet’s book is well worth the read. It has many practical applications for each believer and local church.
A great complementary read with So Beautiful is Reggie McNeal’s seminal book, Missional Renaissance. He describes three shifts we need to make in our thinking and behavior if we are going to be missional. They are (1) from internal to external in terms of ministry focus; (2) from program development to people development in terms of core activity; and (3) from church-based to Kingdom-based in terms of leadership agenda. He adds, “These are not destinations; they are compass settings. They point you into the new world.”
McNeal makes a simple claim: “Missional thinking and living change the game completely. The missional renaissance is altering both the character and the expression of the church in the world.”
Our church is daringly striving to be like Jesus. We are challenging and encouraging every person and each ministry to be Christ-centered. Not merely asking “What would Jesus do?” but also “Why would He do it?”
We are not a youth-centered ministry, or children’s-centered ministry, or worship-centered ministry, or mission-centered ministry. We are a Christ-centered ministry. Everything else should be properly affected and aligned when we keep Christ at the core of all we do.
Jesus declared, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life…” (John 14:6). The Way is Missional. The Truth is Relational. And the Life is Incarnational. Let’s live according to our Divine DNA Design. Let’s be up to what God is up to in 2013 and beyond.
Hank Lamb is senior pastor of Central Christian Church in Richardson.