At our church in Nashville, we have ideas – ideas which we believe come from God – about the purpose and trajectory of spiritual formation. The more invested and comprehensive we are in the various facets of ‘following Jesus,’ the more we will flourish in the world as children of God and kingdom contributors.
If you are not part of our church, I hope that this list can be as helpful to you as it has been to us as you consider Jesus’ call for you and for the community you are part of.
Scripture excerpts are in italics.
FOLLOWING JESUS INTO (AND OUT FROM) WORSHIP AND COMMUNITY
Following Jesus starts with worship and then leads to more worship, both personally and corporately. Just as faith without works is dead, good works separated from active trust in the person and work of Jesus, is also dead. Being about the mission of Jesus means first entering his rest…receiving his easy yoke and light burden of grace. To help encourage pursuit of this reality, we will:
- Remind our people often that the only way to become like Jesus is to prioritize being with Jesus daily. The most mundane, ordinary, and common spiritual practices like Bible reading, prayer, and life in transparent community are at the center of this. Apart from (Jesus) we can do nothing.
- Emphasize worshiping God with God’s other daughters and sons each Lord’s Day — encouraging our people to order the rest of their lives around worship, versus the other way around. Do not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encourage one another.
- Encourage life together among the people of Jesus — the kind that leads to mutual support, the sharing of goods and space, confession and accountability, and participating in one another’s encouragement and character growth.
FOLLOWING JESUS INTO THE WORLD THROUGH PUBLIC FAITH
Our life in the world is meant to be an expression and extension of our worship. In other words, worship moves out from Sunday into our Monday through Saturday lives as well. As carriers of heaven’s DNA and the aroma of Jesus in his world, we want to carry his grace, truth, and beauty into all of the places where we live, work, and play — primarily through:
- Parties. We want to live hospitable, life-giving and celebratory lives by opening our church, homes, and lives in such a way that strangers become friends, and friends become family. We have to celebrate.
- Loving friends and neighbors well. We want to intentional, thoughtful, and creative about being the ‘first responders’ wherever opportunities exist to extend the kindness, love, support, and hope of Jesus to people who are hurting, lonely and alone, and feeling ashamed. Love your neighbor as yourself.
- Public forums and conversations (some church sponsored and others in living rooms and public spaces) about things that matter to us and also to friends and neighbors who do not believe as we do. Subjects of common interest like sexuality, race and class concerns, family-related issues, the arts, politics, loneliness, and anxiety / depression are a few examples of subject matter. Whether you eat, drink, or whatever you do, do it all to the glory of God, AND As some of your own poets have said…
FOLLOWING JESUS INTO THE WORLD THROUGH THE INTEGRATION OF FAITH AND WORK
Because so many people spend the majority of their waking hours working — whether as a volunteer or for hire – we want to help our people see that their work, whether for hire or voluntary, is a dignified calling from God. The workplace is a primary realm for following Jesus and loving the world. We express these truths by:
Affirming that all creative work — work that takes raw material and makes something new for the benefit of the world and the human community — is an expression of God’s creativity through people who bear his image. God created…and it was good.
- Affirming that all redemptive work — work that fights decay and seeks the restoration and healing of people, places, and things — is an expression of God’s redeeming grace, also through people who bear his image. All creation groans…eagerly awaiting freedom. Jesus is making all things new.
- Launching the Nashville Institute for Faith and Work.
FOLLOWING JESUS INTO THE WORLD THROUGH MERCY AND JUSTICE
Because the poor in spirit are called ‘blessed,’ and because Jesus gave special attention to the poor, the weak, the under-served, the overlooked, and those living on the margins, we too will dedicate time, energy, service, and a significant portion of our church’s financial resources to mercy and justice efforts. We will do this by:
- Repeatedly emphasizing the importance of the poor, the weak, the overlooked, and the under-served in the economy of God’s kingdom.
- Creating intentional, supportive space in our community for children and adults with special needs.
- Forming partnerships and providing financial support to Nashville’s ‘best in class’ mercy and justice organizations.
So there you have it!
What about you? What does following Jesus look like in your life and community?