Upward, Outward: Missional Community.


36 “Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?”37 Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. 38 This is the first and greatest commandment. 39 And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself. Matthew22:36-40NIV

Epidemic…
A friend of mine has traveled extensively and spoken to numerous pastors and church leaders. As a result, he’s discovered there is an epidemic. It seems there is a vacuum in many hearts; the vacuum is often discovered when believer’s feel / sense there must be more to life than what they are living. They may be encouraged to pray, worship, journal, read books, attend conferences, attend church or meditate upon scripture to fill their void. In reality, the vacuum they are sensing may be a purpose deficit.

All inflow, with no outflow, creates a sick heart. You and I were created to flow outward, to do good works.

Eph 2: 8-10NIV
  For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast. 10 For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do. 

We are saved by grace through faith not by works. However, we are His handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works.

Good works don’t save us, good works reveal us. 

If you and I are not giving our lives away by serving others… somewhere we, at our core, are purpose impaired.

The below diagram illustrates:

                                                                                                                                                            

Upward:Give. Upward:Receive. 
Everything in life flows from our connective relationship to Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Everything. He is the source of our identity. Knowing Whose we are enables us to draw near with confidence.

In Him, we live and move and have our being. Our heart connection is so important. We draw near, and He draws near to us. His promise is true. 

All life flows from our relationship with Him. We draw near to give: to give our hearts, to give our lives, to give our worship. 

I give my worship because He is so worthy, so gracious, so loving, so forgiving. 

It’s amazing… as we give, we often receive. (I personally believe we receive more than we are aware when we spend time in His  presence.) 

What we receive is a by-product of our worshipful giving. I give my time, I give my life as worship. He, in turn, pours His love and grace into my heart. When we receive, we then have something to give. Knowing Him, I can then make Him known. (I John 1:1-9)
                                                                                                                                                                 
Outward:Give. Outward:Receive. 
The great Investor invests into our lives so that we are built up, and have something to give away to others. 

He gives us love, joy, hope, faith, grace, power, talents, giftings, gifts, and passions for others. 

As I make Him known, through active love and service, He in turn, gives something back… a sense of destiny, a sense of purpose, a sense of fulfillment.

It’s in the very act of giving, laying our lives down for others we receive. We receive encouragement when someone is genuinely encouraged and cared for through our service. We also can sense God’s favor as we give away what we have received. When we bless others, we are blessed.

“The best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others.”

My friend Shana has a new photography business. She decided to dedicate 10% of what she earns to help people in need. Yesterday, she went shopping for groceries and toiletries. She then headed up to Trotwood to deliver the groceries and supplies to women in crisis. She stayed awhile encouraging the women and children. 

                                                                                                                                                                       
Here is a snippet of her story.
 “There are days when my envy for what others have makes it hard to breathe and others when my heart aches for what others do not. Every day I work hard to be a humble servant, putting others ahead of myself in my relationships and in my business. All the money in the world would mean nothing to me if I couldn’t help others.
Today was hard and beautiful all in the same, I was able to gift a car full of groceries to the Mustard Seed Foundation in Trotwood, a home for teenage mothers. These girls are facing challenges on so many levels and I am so thankful this home exists. I was greeted with warm smiles and big hearts and I left behind a little goodness and grace.” 

Her passion intersects with God’s purpose.  

Her passion:To care for people. Her purpose:Release her creative gifting to care for others, both in her chosen profession as a photographer and giving to people in need.

Guess where her tank is filled? Shana’s life passion is connected to her life purpose. She genuinely cares for her clients and for the people in need in her community.

My wife teaches literacy enrichment.  
Her passion:Child development. Her purpose:Teaching literacy. 
She wants to love the kids as Jesus loves. She has done this well. She is loving, creative, joyful, kind and open hearted. Guess what? Kids love being with her. Her love for Jesus overflows in creative teaching.


  Note: Both are not “full time” church workers. They are full-time Jesus followers.

Where does your passion intersect with God’s purpose?

                                                                                                                                                               
Together:A Missional Community.

When we, together, worship, love, serve and care for others we become a missional community; a community on mission. 

I’ve heard it stated, “If you pursue community you may develop community, but you may not be on mission. However, if you(all ya all), as a group of people, pursue mission you will form a community.”

Upward:Give. Upward:Receive.

Outward:Give. Outward:Receive. 

Upward:Give. Give thanks and praise for what He did in you and through you and through… all ya all. Community on Mission=Missional Community.

The power of Kindness.

Serve others, good deeds a lifestyle value.

The focused power of God’s love expressed through our acts of kindness often opens hearts to the good news. Our good deeds reflect God’s love for an individual and for our community in a tangible way. 

Good deeds, create good will, that opens hearts to the good news. 
Rusaw, Swanson The Externally Focused Church


Jesus went about doing good. His nature was reflected by His action. 

I can never imagine Jesus as someone who was continually angry or grumpy or had a fixed scowl upon His face. Nor can I see Him as being self promoting or self seeking. These attitudes are against the very nature and character of God.
 

I understand Jesus is a generous person who has an infectious sense of humor. It is certainly clear people wanted to be around Jesus. He reflected a life which was characterized by grace, peace, kindness, love, joy and spiritual power. 

He was the most friendly open-hearted person on the planet! His life was attractive. He was known as a friend of sinners.

Believers are also called to reflect God’s nature toward others. We are called to be friendly open-hearted people.

We live this out through our attitudes and our actions, by being generous people who are rich in good deeds. 

Believers are servants who are committed to serve others just as Jesus served. 
John stated,
“Whoever claims to live in him, must walk as Jesus did.” (1 John 2:6, NIV

Evangelism is more than developing a certain method,
it’s more about developing spiritual sensitivity to the Holy Spirit.

Reaching others is about seeking to know what He is doing, and what He wants to do in the life of the person we are talking to. 
 

We had planned an outreach for our Dayton Supernatural School of Ministry students and made some simple bags filled with granola bars, peanuts, peanut butter crackers, Cracker Jacks, breath mints. The bags were a bridge to help us connect with the people we about to encounter.


When the students returned. Most had amazing stories. 

At the end of our time together Pattie and I grabbed a couple of friends and headed to Olive Garden for a late lunch. We took two gift bags to give to the waitress at the end of our meal. 

We arrived and began to talk to the waitress and ordered. During the time I leaned into the Holy Spirit expecting to receive a prophetic encouragement for the waitress. Nothing. No sense of anything to say. I continued to wait, observe and look for a sign or a prompt. Nothing. I remember thinking, “This is a supernatural school outreach. I’m supposed to be able to hear, see, or receive a God prompt for people. I‘m leading and I’m receiving nada, zero, nothing.

At the end of our meal we told the waitress we had a gift for her and her team. We gave her our gift bags and thanked her for being such a pleasant, joyful person. When she received the bags suddenly she began to become visibly excited, thanked us, went around the table and hugged each of us and exclaimed, “This is the nicest thing I have ever experienced!” I questioned, “Really this is the nicest thing you have ever experienced?” She exclaimed, “Yes! Here at work. Yes! This is the nicest thing.” 

She then turned and quickly to give gifts to all of the people working on her shift. She returned and said, “The prep chef says, “Thank you so much for the granola bar!” 

I was stunned. I pondered what just transpired. I asked Jesus, “What just happened? I was ready to pray for healing, or to receive a word of encouragement and I received nothing. What are you doing?” 

In an instant I heard, “Im showing you the power of kindness in action.” 

We tipped big; thanked the waitress and headed home. 

Lesson learned. There is power in an act of kindness. Small things done with great love can change our world. Tip: Practice kindness in action.

Begin from where you are with what you have.

    Question: How much power do we need before we go?
    I’m all for more power of the Spirit and believe me, I pray almost every day to be empowered. However, I have been around long enough to know I have to be willing to begin to take steps of risk, steps of faith now, in this present time, in order to enter into the power of the Holy Spirit. 


    I’ve learned I often have to be faithful in the small things, and take small steps, before the greater is realized.
   

   Beginning in the natural often helps us to move toward releasing the supernatural. It’s bringing heaven to earth, as we reach out to people of our earth—our sphere of influence. 

    The power often comes when I’m living life, facing great need, and I sense my lack. It is in the very awareness of my lack, that propels me to reach out for more of His power. However, my lack of power does not keep me from reaching out and encouraging the people in sphere of influence.
    

     If I feel weak and small, I still push through my weakness and smallness. I still serve, I still love, and I still pray and declare.
    

     Sometimes I feel / I sense no power when I pray for people, yet amazing things happen.
    One lady recently came up to our group and said, “When Steve prayed for me I received not one job but two jobs. I was so grateful he took the time and listened to me and prayed for me. I just wanted to thank you all for being out here caring and serving us.” I wanted to say, “Woman. I who am speaking to you am he.” I remember praying with no fire-works, no great surge of assurance…I simply prayed.


    What was the power? Yes, there was an answered prayer. She received two jobs not one. However, this was not the only act of power she noticed. 


     “I was so grateful he took the time, and listened, and prayed for me.” The power, she defined was taking time, listening and praying. What did she notice? The power of love and care in action.
     Her excitement and her gratefulness encouraged me to keep on loving, keep going, keep serving, and to keep praying.
    

     Whether I’m aware of His power or not, good stuff still really does happen.

    The truth, as in most spiritual exercises, reaching others for Jesus begins as a spiritual discipline. A passion for outreach is often developed through our consistent practice. As we practice, outward focused-ness becomes a lifestyle.


    I often say, “You cannot begin to care, unless you first become aware. How do you become aware? By being out there.” 


    Study the great revivalists and healers of the past and present. Many began to serve, go, pray, heal, and reach people long before they had it all together or had received a greater measure of the Holy Spirit.


    Some of our hero’s of faith saw hundreds healed and hundreds come to Jesus long before their power encounter. Yes, the power, and their experience with the Holy Spirit propelled them further ahead, and yes, more people were brought near to the Kingdom, but they, just like everyone else,
had to begin from where they were with what they had, as they leaned in for more. 

Everyone, has to decide to begin with what they have, from where they are.

 
    Bethel Church, in Redding, California is an example of a great church which has consistently served and actively loved their community over many years. Their city is changing, and they are leading many people to Jesus. Why?     
     They are passionately in love with Jesus and seek to honor His Presence as a lifestyle. 

     They encourage people to release what they have received into the lives of the people of their community, in their sphere of influence. 

     They have been actively going, serving, praying and loving the people of their community for many, many years. They, like everyone else, had to decide to begin to go from where they were, with what they had.

The early disciples traveled with Jesus for three years before the Holy Spirit fell upon them.
    Before the day of Pentecost, they were involved in healing the sick, casting out demons, and preaching the Good News of the Kingdom of God effectively. Well, sometimes not so effectively.
    

     When the Spirit’s power came, they reached more and more people, and undoubtedly had greater success. Jesus knew this would happen and this is the reason He told the disciples to wait for the power of the Holy Spirit. However, the waiting for power did not nullify what they had experienced before their empowering. They began from where they were with what they had.

    We exist first and foremost to love Jesus, and to know and experience the presence of the Father’s love. We then learn to love what He loves. He has love for His world.
    We exist for His pleasure, for His Kingdom, and for the people of our world.
    As we are getting it together, we need to realize for whom we are getting it together—the people who are away from God’s presence. This is the will of the Father.
    
    The Church exists to reach our world.
    It exists to be a place where people can be added and discipled. The Church is where new believers learn to love and worship Jesus and where they learn to use their gifts to serve others. It’s where they can become conscious of His divine purpose. It’s where they receive power as they join others to reach out to their world.
    The Church exists to be a blessing to the Father, and to be a source of His love and power for His world. 

Excerpt from Go. Sow.

Papa’s got this…





Why?

Why we are transitioning.
Over the last few years we’ve had a stirring in our hearts to step into what we have been called to. Primarily our gifting is expressed through encouragement, equipping people in the practical how to’s of outward focus, and encouraging leaders. After long a season of hidden-ness we have emerged knowing we must fully embrace what He has given us and begin venturing beyond the Vineyard.

What? 
We will be heading out in June.
Equip, model, train and release people into everyday missional lifestyle. 

This would include developing and encouraging people for a lifestyle of practicing naturally / supernatural expressions: hearing God’s voice, prophetic insight( seeing differently / becoming aware), radically responding, healing-connected to loving well and how to develop bridges into a community.

Travel to encourage leaders, churches, organizations and missionaries, and to teach train, encourage, impart and activate outwardfocusedness.

How?
Build relationships with friends, leaders and organizations. Receive invitations, and / or travel to places of need.

Over the last few years we’ve tested the process. Leaders and missionaries in particular, really need to experience the Father’s care and love though a person.

I traveled to England, Scotland and Ireland. We also traveled to be with a few leaders and churches in the USA with the express purpose of encouraging leaders / staff with no other agenda than to spend time and bringing encouragement. 

Our investment in Brooksville FL, Vineyard Christian Church, was very encouraging both to the staff and the key leaders.


It’s amazing to watch what happens when a leader discovers they are the agenda, and then realize they are on the Fathers heart. 

I’ve also discovered that three to four days is about the right amount of time for the process to flow. 

During our time together we spend time with the leader / leaders, flow with their agenda, and allow space for encouragement. We speak on Sunday’s, or during a session with staff, or have a night or two of training. (This is optional and would only step into this arena if invited.) 

A couple of years ago I traveled to Costa Rica. On the plane I received a name. I later found out he was a key leader for South America.  His countenance visibly changed as he began to tell his miracle story as we walked through his church building.

If possible I will always travel with Pattie. I will travel with an intern or a leader.

Timing is everything

We are simply taking one step at a time.

Our transitional process has been interesting.  
See my post: http://stevebowen.blogspot.com/2016/02/im-noticing-current-common-thread.html


Transition is simply moving from one place to another, or shifting from one stage in life to a different stage, or leaving one season by stepping into another season.


Transition also inherently has moments of panic, belief, encouragement, let down, disappointment and faith. In the end, it’s all about trusting a good, good Father. He is in control. He is behind the scenes working His kind intention according the counsel of His will. 

His will, according to His kind intention…
 His purpose who works all things after the counsel of His will.
Eph 1:9;11 NASB  

How you can help?

Please pray with us as we move forward. Pray for a smooth transition off staff, and that the transition would be well received by the church. Give thanks for unlocked doors.


Believe for resources, and for key people would emerge who would travel with us. Most internal travel would cost around $1000 per trip for two. External travel would vary, ball park would be $2500 per trip taking another person. The funding is mainly for travel expenses and for blessing the leaders with meals, putting gas in their cars, leaving a monetary gift etc. We are seeking to be a blessing, not draining people’s energy, time and finances.


If you would like to support us financially for living expenses, or for travel you can give to Steve Bowen / Eyesoutward.

or you can give direct by Paypal see link top of sidebar..