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Q&A With Beth Wolff, Teaching Pastor from Clarksburg Church.

How Do I Live a “Sent” Life?

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What does the kingdom of God look like? Beth Wolff, Teaching Pastor at Clarksburg Church, shared that “the kingdom is ‘the way things should be.’ And the greatest piece of the gospel is that God made a way for the kingdom of God to be restored and experienced right now.”

The “Way Things Should Be,” is Not Reserved for Sundays.

The current sermon series, Imagining the Kingdom, has been a particularly challenging series. Each week the congregants of Clarksburg Chruch are encouraged to live beyond their comfort levels. Jesus demonstrated that “we have been sent to go to the people, not wait for them to come to us.” The kingdom of God is not reserved for church on Sunday. But when people in our lives are increasingly less aware of church, this can feel challenging.

Over the past week, there have been great conversations and questions about what it looks like to live missionally. How much of it is your responsibility vs. the church’s responsibility? How do you live a missional life without being offensive? Read the Q&A with Beth Wolff, Teaching Pastor, below:

Imagining the Kingdom Q&A with Beth Wolff, Teaching Pastor

  • Can you explain the m1-m4 groups and why they wouldn’t come to a church? I normally think of the people who don’t know God or Jesus as people living in other countries. Is that no longer true?
    • M0 are people who go to church. M1-M2 are people who know about God or the church in some form or fashion. This is a group of people who are likely to come to church if invited, even if they chose to leave the church at some point in their lives. M2-M4 are groups of people ranging from those who may have been or feel marginalized by Christianity, to people who have no clue about Christianity. The further away a person is from the concept of church culturally, the less likely they are to ever step foot inside the walls of a church. The population in the U.S. is increasingly defined by those in the M1-M4 categories. More and more people find themselves further and further away from the church. M2-M4 are not people in another country. They are our neighbors and coworkers. We are sent to serve and love them so they might experience the Kingdom of God.
  • When it comes to being sent across cultural boundaries, how much of the responsibility is mine? How much of the responsibility is on the church? 
    • I love this question. It shows that some real thinking is going on here! There is a common assumption that when it comes to being sent across cultural boundaries, the church, as an organization, holds all of the responsibility (make the plan, determine the people group, recruit the volunteers, etc.). It is true that as an organization, the church should have large-scale plans and efforts for the entire congregation to engage with. However, I would say that really only makes up 10% of your “sent life.” 90% of your “sent life” happens in the context of the places where you work, play, live. In these spaces, it is your responsibility to pay attention to who the people are. Listen to those needs and find ways to serve those specific individuals.
      This may sound like a challenge, but it actually makes living a sent life much easier and more accessible. You don’t have to schedule special service hours or go to special places in order to do 90% of the sent work we are called to do. Instead, it happens in the everyday moments of your life. You don’t have to move anywhere special, you don’t have to change jobs. You are living out this sent life all the time.
  • Don’t you think that part of what is hard about reaching people across cultural boundaries (m2-m4) is that they aren’t really open to hearing the gospel? 
    • Be careful you don’t confuse someone who is closed off to the gospel as someone who is closed off to you. While most in m2-m4 contexts are not interested in your belief system, however, they are interested in having a relationship with someone who is loving, humble, and concerned for their well-being. This is where your relationship needs to dwell for the time being. Just love them. You might be thinking, “but shouldn’t I be boldly telling them about Jesus?… isn’t that the most loving thing?” Beau Crosetto wrote a great book called Beyond Awkward. It describes that while we are to boldly share about Jesus when the door is open if the door is shut we are to stay patient and present while continuing to engage in a relationship with that person. Be bold, not pushy. Often times our long-term patient and present relationships communicate far more about the Character of God than we realize. And who knows, that can open far more doors.
  • My neighbor is Muslim and I know they are celebrating Ramadan right now. I want to continue to build a relationship with him and his family. An easy way to do that would be to bring a gift for them for Ramadam. But is that wrong? 
    • So, this is a great idea! Blessing those who we are sent to is a huge part of what it means to be sent. Consider this, if someone who held a different belief system brought you a gift for Christmas or Easter, you would receive it as a blessing regardless of their belief system.
      Maybe we feel it is wrong because we fear that by blessing someone through religious avenues they understand, we might be condoning those belief systems? I think this is a natural reaction, but consider this:
      This is akin to saying God would withhold His blessing until someone completely figured out his or her theology about God. But that simply isn’t true. God blesses us before we have everything figured out. In fact, He sent the ultimate blessing, Jesus, while we were still in rebellion. Blessing us even though we were far from God didn’t condone our rebellion, instead, it provided a way for us to be in a relationship with Him.
      If you are unfamiliar with holidays, ask about them. This is a great way to build a relationship and understand more of their perspective and background.
  • I’ve never considered loving my neighbors who are culturally different than myself as doing God’s work; it has always seemed much more difficult and scary. I have always imagined doing God’s work and sharing the gospel is like “hellfire and brimstone,” or if you don’t believe what I believe, then there’s no reason I should get to know you better. Are you really saying that being a good neighbor is what it looks like to do God’s work? If so, this is the easiest thing ever!
    • Yes! I am really saying that doing God’s work is as simple as being a good neighbor! I mean, when Jesus was asked to define the greatest commandment, it was a tie between, “Love God with all your heart, mind, and strength AND love your neighbor as yourself.” Sometimes we make God’s work so complicated that we end up with excuses as to why we aren’t obedient. It is fairly simple: who are the people around you? Love them! And make sure you aren’t just seeing the people who are easy to connect with.

Click here to watch the full sermon series, Imagining the Kingdom, led by Beth Wolff, Teaching Pastor for Clarksburg Church. If you have any additional questions or comments, or simply want to have a conversation, please email Clarksburg Chruch meets on Sunday mornings at 10:00 a.m.