Mission and Vision

Matthew 28:16-20

Then the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain where Jesus had told them to go. (Matthew 28:16)

When they saw him, they worshiped him; but some doubted. (Matthew 28:17)

Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. (Matthew 28:18)

Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, (Matthew 28:19)

and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” (Matthew 28:20)


So tonight, we’re setting out to answer this question: What are we doing here?

What is this all about, us coming together, us gathering groups and Bible studies? Ultimately what are we seeking to accomplish? So that’s what we set out to answer.

In order to answer that question, we’ve got to get a lot higher than the Outlet. We’ve got to get way beyond that because the Outlet should be in glad submission to other things.


Some messages are trying to get you to look inward, this message is trying to get you to look outward.

  • 1st: The gospel and the heart - how the gospel changes you.
  • 2nd: The gospel & the world - how we relate to the world and to each other.

So we set out trying to answer this question, a massive, philosophical, theological question. What’s God doing here? What’s the mission of God?

And from there we’re going to talk about the mission of God’s people

And finally, what is the unique piece that outlet has to play in that mission?


The Mission of God

Let me ask the question: What’s the Bible all about?

2 ways to answer: - 2 basic theological approaches.

1. A Topical Approach.

"The bible is a way to live."

This way of reading the Bible looks at different topics and asks what does the Bible say about this? For example what does the Bible say about marriage? What does the Bible say about sin?

So you ask the Bible a question, and the Bible spits out an answer.

And you can learn a ton like this.

But there’s a danger.

Centers on 'me'.

And so if you were to ask someone who sees the Bible in this way this question: “What’s the Bible about?”

Well they would say something like: “Well, there’s a God, but we sinned, but Jesus died on the cross, and so we have to believe, we’ll be saved and go to heaven.


2. A Single Story

I hope you can tell that that’s not how most people start reading the bible.

When you start reading it, it doesn’t look like a single story. It seems like tons of stories, and poems and laws and rules, and epistles.

And it’s kind of natural to start thinking “What the Bible teach about …” And you don’t see that there’s a single plot line happening.

But it IS a single plot line.


Mission of God

So what’s it about? - What’s the plotline?

Well the answer to that is found in the Hebrew Phrase "Tikkun Olam" "To repair the world."

We believe that that's found in Jesus. He's what God has sent to repair the world.

The Bible is the true story about God’s mission to heal the world.

  • Creation
  • Fall
  • Redemption

Or you could say:

  • God created us because he loved us
  • But lost us
  • But coming back for us.

And if you read the Bible like that, I’ll teach you a big word so you feel like you learned something, if you read the Bible diachronically instead of synchronically, that it instead of looking at single points, you’re looking at the story over the whole, —- you’ll see the Bible is about God, not about us.

It’s about how God is breaking into the world to heal it.

And not just about the individual, it’s about all of creation.

God is on a mission to renew the entire world.

So you could say it like this:

The entire bible is about God’s Mission. And what is that mission? To heal the world.

And if that’s true, then being a Christian is also all about mission.

Which brings us to…


The Mission of God’s People

The mission of God’s people is to join the mission of God. - To heal the world.

Our biblically informed mission is our participation, as God’s people, in God’s own mission which is the redemption of all creation.” (Christopher Wright - one of the leaders in talking about 'God's Mission')


And how do God’s people accomplish that mission? - By making disciples

“Disciple” is a bible word for someone who orients their life around Jesus and his Kingdom.

And the Kingdom of God is completely different than the way of the world.

For example:

  • The world is about power / The kingdom of God is about love.
  • The world is about conflict / The Kingdom of God is about reconciliation.
  • The world is about the sword / The kingdom of God is about the cross.

And so we help God with his mission to heal the world when we bring people into his way of doing things.

Which is what the great commission is all about.

Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, (Matthew 28:19)

and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” (Matthew 28:20)

My rough paraphrase : Go into every part of the world and make people who center their life around the father, the son, and the Holy Spirit. Teach them to live their lives centered around my teachings.


Often times when people hear the world ‘mission’ they think international mission. Or maybe evangelism, making Christian converts.

That's certainly true to a certain extent. But when that happens is it ends up putting missions into a particular compartment in your life.

Truth: Everything you do is about mission. Everything.

If you’re in ministry, or in business, or in school, or a stay at home mom, everything you do is about mission. Everything you do is to be part of God’s mission.

Mission is what your life's about, b/c it’s what God is about.

In fact, it’s what history is about. Mission is what your life is about, b/c it’s what God is about. In fact, it’s what history is about.

When Adam and Eve sinned, God could have just wiped them out and that would be it. But he didn’t. Why not? B/C of his mission. - To heal the world.


God’s plan is not just to save an individual soul and get it to heaven, but to renew the entire world.

So to be part of God’s mission is not JUST to do evangelism, where you’re asking people to receive Christ, of course that’s a huge part of it, but it has to include the reweaving of the material world.

So evangelism is partnered with:

  • Art
  • Music
  • Science
  • Peacemaking
  • Feeding the hungry
  • Caring for the sick

That’s all in support of the mission of God.



The Vision of Outlet

And so what is the unique piece that Outlet has to play in that mission? Well that leads us to Outlet’s specific vision. And this is not the same as other visions of other ministries.

We all share in the common mission which is to make followers of Jesus, but there’s different cultures, and giftings, and callings that make our part in that completely unique.

Building Bike while riding it. I’ve always tried to be really honest about the progress of Outlet, that in a lot of ways we were building the bike while we were riding it.

And I’ve spent the last 6 months or so really trying to put my finger on who outlet is, and what our unique part to play is. And so me and some of the other leaders have discussed, debated, and tried to figure out exactly the best way to put all this and after a lot of prayer, and a lot of meeting we’re ready to communicate it with you.


What is Outlet?

Outlet is an open community of honest seekers.

We’ve used this terminology before.

What is Outlet’s vision?

Reach the unchurched, the alienated, and the seeking in our city.


1. The Unchurched

50 years ago church ministry in America looked a lot different than does today. And the reason is this: 50 years ago, it was safe to assume that the vast majority of people considered themselves Christian.

Well that’s really changed.

Christianity in the WORLD is on the increase, Christianity in the NATION is on the fastest decline in the history of our nation.

Study NY Times

Religious Affiliation - 2007 to 2014

In America

Spans - All regions in the nation (including the bible belt) / Denominations. Between 2007 and 2014

During this time:

  • Atheists and agnostics doubled
  • Judaism / Islam / Hinduism - up.
  • Both protestant and catholic christianity is on the decline.

No other times in American history has Christian declined at anywhere near this rate.


And so it’s not just important, but it’s absolutely vital that we create church communities that reach unchurched people.

B/C having church service that just caters to already churched people doesn’t ultimately advance God’s mission.

So how do you become a community that reaches the unchurched?

1. We assume discourse

We avoid ever talking as if non-believing people are not present.

"If you speak as if the neighbors are there with you, along with the Christians, then eventually they’ll come. Otherwise, they won’t.” (Tim Keller)

2. Avoid tribal language

Tribal Language: Unnecessarily stylized evangelical pious jargon and archaic language that seeks to set a spiritual tone

For example: “We’re just really trusting that the spirit of the Lord is gonna give us a blessing." // “Come on, somebody give the King of Kings and the Lords of Lords some some praise in this place."

That kind of talk can be great for ministering to already churched people. But it hurts your witness to unchurched people, because it makes them feel like an Outsider.

So in Outlet, we talk like we talk in our real life, so that when unchurched people come in, we’re already talking to them.


2. The Alienated

A growing number of Americans feel wounded, alienated, and rejected by modern Christianity.

Churches that can’t admit that church has a tendency to hurt people are just crazy. - They’re singing songs on a sinking ship.

I know for a fact that there’s lots of people in this room tonight that have a very complex relationship with church b/c of being mistreated by church leadership.

And one thing I’m so proud of about Outlet is that we’ve heard many reports of people saying they never thought they’d step foot into a church ever again, only to find the Outlet community open, and accepting and even healing for them.

So how do you become a community that reaches the alienated? It has to be rooted in relationship. Where relationships are the most important thing. And we have to deliberately make space for people to process their complex relationships with the church.

And my hope is that we do that both from the stage but also one-on-one.


3. The Seeking

More and more Christian people are searching for a more authentic, honest, and intelligent Christianity.

Brennen Manning talks about the ‘The Second Journey’ and what he means by that is often times Christian people find themselves in a season of life where their:

Assumptions, conclusions, judgements - ≠ working.

Faith is incredibly open ended. It wasn't this thing with a nice pretty bow on top.

Realize: faith is both harder and messier than you thought.

And so they find themselves secure in their Christian faith, but still searching for something.

“I was halfway to ninety—midway through life—and I had reached a full-blown crisis. Call it garden variety mid-life crisis if you want, but it was something more. You might say it was a theological crisis, though that makes it sound too cerebral. The unease I felt came from a deeper place than a mental file labeled “theology.” I was wrestling with the uneasy feeling that the faith I had built my life around was somehow deficient. Not wrong, but lacking. It seemed watery, weak. In my most honest moments I couldn’t help but notice that the faith I knew seemed to lack the kind of robust authenticity that made Jesus so fascinating. And I had always been utterly fascinated by Jesus. What I knew was that the Jesus I believed in warranted a better Christianity than what I was familiar with. I was in Cana and the wine had run out. I needed Jesus to perform a miracle.” (Brian Zahnd, Water To Wine)

Most Christians - 2nd journey, 3rd, 4th…

We just believe that there’s a lot of beauty in that. That we don’t need to be afraid of seeking and asking questions.


Strategy

1. We’re present in people's lives

We live our lives in relationship with people in and outside the church walls. We eat meals, laugh, play, talk, and cry with people from all walks of life. 

Our mission includes our life and our secular vocation, not just church minisitry.

We believe that the great commission begins in your everyday life.

So whenever we’re at, we’re endeavoring to live in relationship with real people.

Outside of real relationship, Christians just look like they’re selling something.

“Hey I don’t know you, nor do I care to, but I want you to come to our church service."

That’s the old way. That’s working with the assumption that people believe in God and just need a placer to go to church. But in today’s culture, people’s lives and much more complex than that.

So step one is just being present in people’s lives. Not wanting something FROM someone, but just being present with them.

2. We invite people into our community

We courageously invite people into our community, believing that they will experience the presence of God and be changed by him. 

Outlet - amazing - done everything wrong. Outlet is amazing b/c we’ve essentially done everything wrong. And what I mean by that is, we don’t have membership classes, we don’t track visitors, we don’t have big events to keep the momentum going, we don’t advertise, we don’t do any of the stuff that a church growth book would tell you to do. But we’ve continued to grow and change in a beautiful way.

How has that happened? Simple. We’ve created a safe and open community and people have invited their friends. That’s the only reason people come here. Is because they were invited by someone.

That’s the piece we need from you. And that’s the piece we need from you. - I can work super hard to make these gatherings into this beautiful thing where people feel encouraged and challenged, but only you can bring YOUR neighbors. B/C I don’t know them.

So we both have a part to play. Which brings us to the 3rd part…


3. We create open and welcoming church gatherings

We create church gatherings where people from all walks of life feel safe, accepted, and loved so they can be encouraged and challenged to follow after Jesus. 

We really talked about this in the previous section, but the hope is that you’ll allow me to earn your trust in this. That if you bring someone from your real life, we’ll take good care of them. We won’t belittle their way of life, we won’t mock their viewpoint, but we’ll treat them delicately and respectfully.

You have to use the gospel to both solve people’s problems who are Christians as well as call people who aren’t Christians to believe. Both can be accomplished so long as both are considered.


So I hope you can see this partnership. You go and live your life with real people, you invite them into our community, and as the leadership of this community, we take great care to make them feel safe, accepted and loved.


Status Update

Outlet - stats and growth

  • 2015 - AVG 39
  • 2016 - AVG 66
  • 2017 - AVG - 101

66% growth every year -which is unbelievable and unsustainable, but really really great for a young ministry.


Begun to give.

Our only real weekly expense is the coffee.

Outreaches

ABBY - Outreaches that your money support.

In addition to the outreaches we’ve done as Outlet.

LoveABQ

  • Weekly - Feed the hungry
  • People who would come to us and need food. We’re constantly buying more food
  • 4x/year - mobile event where we go into low income neighborhoods and give away food.

Freedom House

  • Freedom House is a Transitional Housing Program for sexually trafficked women in New Mexico.

Cameron and Micaela Brice

  • In Nicaragua.
  • They’re there helping to plant and equip Christian churches there.

Daniel and Doina Matei

  • Worldwide Ministries
  • Romania and Ukraine
  • Plant churches I don’t remember how many but it’s like over 100.

Beautiful Dream Society - Lesotho, South Africa

  • Has official guardianship and care full-time for sixteen children, from ages 4-18. The children have lost their parents, mostly, b/c AIDS epidemic.

Thailand - Charley and Cathy Milbrodt

  • Living Word Ministries
  • 3 orphanages
  • Bible Colleges
  • Over 200 church plants.

A21

  • The largest non-profit organization fighting to end human sex trafficking.

Just wanted to say “thank you”, I’ve seen first hand how these outreaches have changed lives, etc etc.


What we're currently working on.

ARIANA - Organize the ministry - Volunteering

Place to volunteer:

  • Childcare
  • Host Team
  • Worship Team
  • Media Team - Slides/lights, sound
  • Room Setup

Come to me.

(Worship - Josh Davis)

And often as weekly as rarely as once every couple months. Something nice about how we all make a ministry like this possible.

(Foyer and Room expansion)

Directly affect Outlet


Invite You

Take on the vision of outlet as your own.


1. Give

We’ve never been a ministry that heavily emphasizes money, and we never will be, so there’s never any pressure, but if you’d LIKE to give us help us, that’s so awesome, you can drop cash or checks into that box as always, or you can give online and even set up a recurring deal on believerscenter.com (http://believerscenter.com) (just make sure to select Outlet from the drop-down menu, that helps us out and let’s the pastors know that this ministry is worthwhile and helping people.)


2. Volunteer

Ariana / Josh Davis - Worship


3. Invite

Invite your loved ones into our community and believe that they will experience the presence of God here.

At the end of the day, this is what really matters. Reaching the unchurched, the alienated, and the seeking.