At some point in the New Testament, without much warning, the first followers are no longer considered to be disciples, or “learners.” They are called “apostles,” the ones who are sent out to live on mission for Jesus. In Matthew, the change happens in chapter 10, when they are sent out first to lost sheep of the “house of Israel.” In other words their discipleship and apostleship were one and the same. They learned from Jesus and went out in his name simultaneously, practicing their faith where they lived and worked. Each person saw himself as a missionary.
In the book of Acts, the early church shared their faith as they went from “house to house.” With no central meeting place, the earliest followers of the Way worshipped in households. Keep in mind this concept was much different than a modern family. Many people fit under the definition of a “household.” If you read Ephesians 5, Colossians 4, or 1 Peter 2-3 and other passages, a household sounds more like a large family business of today. Husband, wife, children, workers, associates, cousins, and next of kin could fall into a household.
When apostles started going to households, the Spirit moved. In Acts 16, for instance, a jailer converts and his entire “household” is saved. Paul found that Timothy had been trained by grandmother Lois and his mother Eunice.
This past year, we’ve been learning about Jesus and loving Tallahassee. Right around our church, we’ve opened doors for a cold night shelter for the homeless, scouted the city to see God’s work in our neighborhood. We are rebuilding a home in Griffin Heights and mentoring children at Sabal Palm Elementary. Now I want to invite you to go out from the immediate area around our church. In 2014, I challenge you to live as if you were sent by the great commission to your own household in your neighborhood, on your campus, in the city, or in the workplace.
To help you discover God’s mission for you in these places, our Connections Weekend Conference will focus on this theme. Our speaker will be Matt Reynolds, lead pastor of Grace Midtown Church near the Georgia Tech campus in Atlanta, a church composed of households on mission together in the city. The workshops will provide practical ways to live sent in each area of where God is working around us: neighborhoods, campuses, city, and the office. You can register now for the conference February 7-9.
Just as the wise men left Bethlehem and went “home by another way,” I pray that 2014 will be the year where you see the place where you live as the starting point for Jesus’ great commission to you. You are Jesus’ missionary right here in Tallahassee. Where will he send you this year?