We are constantly declaring what we actually believe it means to be disciples who follow Jesus and gather as a church.
Every time we make a move, every time we make a decision, every time we gather, every time we speak and every time we are silent, we do so.
Every day, all the time, 24/7, we are demonstrating what the good news of the gospel looks like in flesh and blood.
The sum total of our actions, inactions, attitudes, espoused beliefs, organizational processes and even property management are our declaration of discipleship and church.
It’s like in everything we do, we are saying to God, “Here, O God, is our best effort at being your disciples and being church together.”
At the same time, we are making a very similar statement to the world around us: “Here is our understanding of what it means to be salt and light in the spirit of Jesus Christ on this planet at this point in history.”
On the one hand, readers may be thinking this is so obvious it’s not worth stating. While the other hand reminds us that we Christ-followers often move through our days as if we have no awareness that we are being the church in everything we do.
So, given the world in which we live, it’s time to raise our awareness about our identities and calling.
The Jesus-shaped church can no longer ignore or neglect our calling and expect to be remotely relevant to our cultural milieu. A highly aware church is dramatically needed.
One would think that Christian disciples would move through life with such a high awareness of their role (salt and light) in God’s mission.
Yet, looking back, many of us are aware of our neglect around our callings. It’s like we develop spiritual Alzheimer’s – forgetting who we are and what we are about as we move through our days.
The way we interact with others, engage our communities, choose to act or not act, and post on social media are all statements to the world about what it means to be disciples of Jesus Christ.
It is important for us to regularly assess how well we demonstrate what it looks like to be disciples who are the church. Thank God for grace that redeems and then pushes us out the door to try again.
Here’s the beauty of what increased awareness of our role in Christ’s calling does – we are inspired to rise to the occasion.
Does this world need more people motivated by love, seeking the common good?
Where are the communities of people who care about each other so much they can tolerate different opinions and remain in community with each other?
Where are the churches who are shining examples of community in a world where community breakdown is the norm?
Raised awareness about our identities and role in God’s movement positions us to actually be salt and light.
So, here’s a practical application: As you begin your next lay leadership team, committee, ministry team or staff meeting, pause to do two things:
1. Declare to yourselves that what you are about to do is declare and demonstrate what it means to be a disciple of Jesus Christ.
2. Remind yourselves that your collective activity, decisions and outcomes from this particular meeting are your statement to the world about what it means to be church.
In so doing, business as usual would be far less probable or even possible.
Mark Tidsworth is president of Pinnacle Leadership Associates. A version of this article first appeared on Pinnacle’s blog and is used with permission. His writings can also be found on his personal blog.
Mark Tidsworth is president of Pinnacle Leadership Associates.