Thursday, February 7, 2013

Barefoot Church

After reading 7: An Experimental Mutiny Against Excess by Jen Hatmaker, I decided to read some of her husband's work.  I picked up Barefoot Church: Serving The Least In A Consumer Culture by Brandon Hatmaker.  Jen made several references to the church that she and her husband helped plant in Austin, Texas after leaving the megachurch that her husband had been pastoring.  I wanted to know more about this new church that was focused on service.

Three chapters into the book, I'd typed up so many awesome quotes that I decided it'd be more efficient to actually buy the book since I'd quoted practically everything.  I decided to mostly just read the rest of the book only writing down the most inspiring quotes.

The gist of the book--to step out of our nice comfortable church buildings and be the good news to the least of these.  The least being anyone who is hurting, poor in money, poor in spirit, poor in health, widowed, orphaned, imprisoned, etc.  Our job isn't the beat them over the head with the gospel, but to simply serve them.

At my prayer group meetings, we have heard many talks and words on stepping through the door to do mission.  That God is opening the door to mission, to get moving.  While I love the idea of doing mission and fully support it, I keep walking away wondering...what am I supposed to actually do?

Hatmaker sums my thoughts up exactly:

The Spirit is moving. When we act, the Spirit moves in us. So how should we act? What should we do? I recall being told to go out and be a “light.” I'd leave church all excited and feeling like, “Alright, here we go, be a light...uh...bright and shining...uh...what does that really mean?” It's the same thing with serving. We tell people to serve. Or maybe we're the ones told to serve, and we may even really want to, but our willpower is small, almost as small as our insight on where to start.  

This book tells the reader why we need to serve the widows, the orphans, the poor, the hungry, the needy, the lost.  Because God said so.

Learn to do right; seek justice. 
 Defend the oppressed. 
 Take up the cause of the fatherless; 
plead the case of the widow
 ~Isaiah 1:17

Hatmaker goes on to say: God couldn't have made this clearer. Throughout Scripture, he reminds Israel that his greatest indictment is their neglect of the poor and oppressed. And it's not just worship that's impacted. While Isaiah reminds us that serving the poor validates our worship (Is. 1) and fasting (Is. 58), James reminds us that it gives evidence of our faith (Jms 4), and Jesus reminds us that it is somehow linked to our eternity (Matt 25).

Service isn't just a really good idea.  It's not just a nice thing to do.  God demands it.  Of each of us.  Of me. How did I miss that?  


I've generally been pretty willing to serve within my prayer group, but rarely have I stepped outside the safe building and served.  Let alone made mission work my main focus.  That's messy.  Scary.  Maybe even dangerous.  

And yet, there it is.  God's command.  Do it anyway.  

For a while I didn't know where to start.  Mission work.  Right.  What mission work?  Even knowing that I'd like to serve, opportunities to do mission work haven't exactly been jumping up and down in front of me.  So I had to find something on my own.  I felt God leading me to do Meals on Wheels.  Tomorrow I go to the Meals on Wheels orientation so I can start serving the elderly.  I see this mostly as a launching pad.  A thing to do to get my feet wet before moving on to do something else.  Something harder and scarier.  

The past three weeks I have been doing an extended fast praying, among other things, that God would open my eyes to see the world as He sees it.  Well, God has broken my heart, but it's all been over far away places--refugees, children in poorer countries in need of sponsors, countries in need of safe drinking water, human trafficking.  All these things are over there.  I can't go over there.  I want to do more than give money--I want to give time and get involved in something bigger than me that shows mercy and fights for justice for people who live in my own city.

So during Lent, as part of my screen time fast, I will also be praying specifically for God to show me what local mission He is calling me to beyond Meals on Wheels.  That He would open my eyes to see where I can serve right here.  Something that I can do even with three little munchkins tagging along.  

If you want to be inspired to get off your couch, to step outside of your church doors, to do as Jesus commanded and serve others, read this book.  After God has finished convicting you, seek out a place where you can serve.  And then come back and share what God has led you to do.  It will both inspire us/me to action and will give us/me ideas of ways we can serve.

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