When is the last time your church set out on an adventure? Has your church recently tested its endurance and strength by learning new skills and stretching their current familiar conditions? What was the last thing your church did that really stretched them out of their comfort zone and caused them to have to trust God fully as they stepped out with courage and boldness?
This is not typically how we would describe the average church’s normal actions. Too often churches are fairly complacent and prefer to place it safe. We find ministries that are low-risk (i.e. don’t take us out of our comfort zone or cause us to act with blind faith) and are safe (no risk of internal relationships or cause us discomfort or dis-ease). We are very friendly and open to new folks coming to our facility on Sundays at 10:00 am as long as they like what we like. Afterall, change is difficult and many feel they have “earned” the right to their own preferences. For too many, membership apparently has privileges rather than responsibilities.
What if the church was called to set out on a new venture? Fear not! We are not suggesting a trip to a foreign country. No one will need a passport or vaccinations for travel. Packing a suitcase won’t even be necessary. Yet, this venture will be a new experience for many of us. This venture may cause us to flex muscles we haven’t used, learn new skills, act outside our comfort zone, stretch our ideas of what the church is and looks like, and will cause us to examine our own thoughts and beliefs about being a follower of Jesus.
The picture of this new adventure does not sound like a luxurious vacation at a high end resort that most anyone would sign up for in a hurry, right? Instead, it sounds pretty scary! Yet we are reminded that being a follower of Jesus is not meant to be a walk in the park, but it is also filled with blessings.
Then He said to everyone, “If anyone wants to be my follower, he should deny self [i.e., of always having its own way] and accept his cross [i.e., his responsibilities, with all their difficulties] everyday, and [then he can] become my follower. For whoever would [try to] save his life [i.e., by neglecting spiritual things] will lose it [i.e., miss out on the blessings of God]. Luke 9:23-24 Source
To be the church and to be a follower of Christ, it will take us into unchartered waters and new territories. These are not unchartered or new territories that are completely undiscovered by anyone before. Instead these are typically unchartered areas for us as individuals and as the church. Instead, they are simply venturing into the neighborhoods surrounding our church buildings. These ventures we are speaking of are not going blindly about serving our neighbors transactionally. The highstake ventures we are challenging churches to take are to invest relationally in truly and authentically getting to know the neighbors, serving the community with the neighbors, investing time to understand the neighborhood and their stories, spending time with the neighbors, and providing ministry that will bring about transformational kingdom impact throughout the neighborhood.
Is your church ready to boldly and courageously venture into your neighborhood that you are called to reach? We believe there is no greater adventure than traveling alongside someone on their discipleship journey. That’s why a group of thought leaders from around the country came together to build a ministry toolbox of resources for venture leaders who are ready to step out and discover new ministry pathways and reach new people. For more information on the Greatest Expedition Click Here.