SteComp 08-04-47  

Compelled by Love

The Most Excellent Way to Missional Living



Ed Stetzer and Philip Nation

New Hope Publishers, 2008, 220 pp., ISBN  978-1-59669-227-5



Ed Stetzer is director of Research at LifeWay Christian Resources.  He has planted churches, trained pastors and church planters, and taught in seminaries.  Philip Nation is a church planter in north Metro Atlanta and the author of two books on missional churches.


Several years ago, before I knew about the missional church movement, a pastor asked me how missionaries are trained.  He said he wanted to train his whole congregation to be missionaries.  I was thinking of "missionary' in terms of crossing cultures.  He was thinking of individuals totally committed to living for Christ and loving and reaching the lost.  I believe this is what the authors mean by "missional." [dlm]


"I teach Christians to see themselves as though they were in a missionary setting, even if they never leave their neighborhoods.  I exert effort to help believers understand what it means to have a missional lifestyle: every day we encounter people who need to know Jesus; and if we think like missionaries, then we're more likely to reach them.' (Preface, italics mine, dlm)


Chapter 1. Compelled by Love - The Most Excellent Way

Hollywood has reduced love to feel-good emotions.  But this is far short of "the full expression of love that is God's nature (I John 4:16).  Most notably, God's love includes sacrifice, in fact, the two--love and sacrifice--cannot be separated.  God's version of compelling love intertwines Christ's love with Christ's death." (15)


"Through His sacrificial love, God brings us into an intimate relationship with Him through salvation.  He then compels us to love others as Christ loves us--first." (15)  We are "to imitate His sacrifice as we serve others on His behalf." (15)


"It is a foundational truth for all Christians--Christ's love compels us to display love through our actions….  And Paul says we're compelled by this love in order to persuade others to the gospel, a key purpose of the missional life." (16)  "Why do we work to persuade people of the truth?  Because God loves them and compels us to do the same." (17)


"We cannot be loving and live for self.  Love does not operate selfishly.  Love changes us." (23-24)  "Christians should be the most loving and forgiving people on earth." (24)


Chapter 2.  Searching Love - The Father's Heart for Us

"Missional ministry can only be accomplished provided there is a sure foundation for all we do.  We begin with the knowledge of God because the mission originates in His heart.  Otherwise, we will find ourselves doing many of the good things possible in this world, but never accomplishing the one great thing the kingdom God had in store for us." (32)  "God seeks the lost, and He reminds us that He expects us to do the same." (34)


"God's searching love is one that ends in joy.  Humans often seek only a sense of relief." (34)


"God does not want us distracted.  He does not want our loyalties to be divided.  Our allegiances are to be His alone.  He loves us that intensely."  "Do we have the jealous love for others that God has for them?" (38)


"I fear the church rejoices over things different than what causes God to rejoice.  We have trained ourselves to rejoice, using the same measures Wall Street uses: number of clients and level of income." (43)  "We should rejoice in the salvation of the lost and a repentant attitude among the saved." (44)


Chapter 3  Dying Love - Love in the Life of Christ

"The Bible reminds us of what is of first importance: the gospel expressed in the Cross." (51) 


"When we assume the gospel, we assume too much."  "The gospel is this: Our incarnated God died for our sins so we might be reconciled to Him and glorify Him eternally." (52)


"We can never show the love of Christ until we understand the love of Christ.  And we can never understand the love of Christ until we understand His death.  And we can never understand the death of Christ until we understand why He died.  And we can never understand why He died until we understand His holiness and our sin." (53)


"'We love because he first loved us.'"  (I John 4:19 NIV)  "As Christians, we should be the most loving people in the world."  "Unfortunately, that isn't everyone's experience.  Many people are losing faith in the church.  They don't see the church as a place of love but of judgment.  Perhaps it's not because the lost misperceive us but because we don't love them enough." (56)


"The desire for Christ's glory and gospel must be the foremost passion in us, in such a way that all other desires fade." (58)  "Will my life be marked by the love that comes because of what Christ has done on the Cross?"  "Love is different.  We learn to love by dying." (60)


Chapter 4.  Indwelling Love - The Spirit's Living Love

"Our gospel message is the most important message in human history because it brings hope, salvation, and peace." (67)


"My intelligence isn't required for sharing the gospel. It's an eternal message with eternal consequence; it's only by the work of the Spirit that a human soul is convinced."  "No one comes to saving knowledge of Christ apart from the presence of God's Spirit." (68)


"People without hope are everywhere, and our role is to glorify God by offering hope through the message of the gospel."  (69)


"We must remember, His missional role is to convict; our missional role is simply to go.  Love is the place where our going and His convicting converge."  "His desire for an intimate love relationship for us is so deep that He wants us to participate in His redeeming work." (69)


"What do we find ourselves speaking about most often?  It's fine to discuss family, hobbies, and the like.  However, when we fall into a rut where we find it awkward to talk about what the Spirit is teaching us, we should evaluate whether we are allowing Him to dominate our lives.  Since His love is great enough to indwell our feeble lives, we should respond to this love by applying the truth He reveals.  Communicating God's truth should be natural for missional believers.  His words are so overwhelming that we cannot help but talk about such wondrous messages of hope and joy.  But it must be done with respect for the truth (keeping it intact) and for the hearers (keeping them engaged.)  I have found that people want to hear about these things.  …our culture is sensitive to issues of spirituality."  (74) 


Chapter 5.  Identified by Love - Having a Mission That Shows

"Why is it that many unhappy people we meet are church people?  …some believers seem to think being unhappy and complaining is the mark of a mature Christian…." (82)


"God actually is love.  Therefore, the love born from His being is not earthly by nature; it isn't human or common: it is a divine love."  "The church is to be known as an extension of God's character: It is to be known as love." (84)


"The world sees the church as a minority with an agenda.  What the world should see is the love of God expressed through faithful missional living." (85)


"The [early] church enjoyed a growing group of believers primarily because they demonstrated love by living out the gospel."  (87)


"Much of our challenge is wrapped up in the dual responsibility of showing love and telling truth.  After all, telling the truth doesn't always breed popularity." (87)


"You can't love Jesus and hate His Bride.  You may become frustrated at a congregation, but you must love the church.  It is God's beloved.  He is her hero." (91)


"But we have missed the fact that entering the Christian life is not simply praying a prayer.  The Christian life is being transformed by the God to whom we pray. …when it is genuinely the intent of that person's heart to follow Christ, He changes him or her." (95)  [We must be changed.  Unchanged people cannot live missional lives nor reach unchanged people. As Kent Hughes said, "A church that is like the world can't reach the world." dlm]


Chapter 6. Commissioned by Love - Living with Jesus's Mission

"In response to His love, what is the church supposed to do?  The answer is to make disciples." (99)  "In the Great Commission, Jesus gives a command that is for all churches at all times and in all cultures." (100) [to disciple to all nations. dlm]


"Missional ministry is not about our abilities.  It is about presenting God's presence to the people of our world." (101)


"But here is the point: When we educate ourselves and the public to attend our church based on attention-grabbing events, we are also educating them to attend other churches, nonprofit organizations, and even cults based on the events they offer." (102)


The Great Commission begins with "Go."  "The command of Christ is to be up and moving."  "We are a sent people." (103)


"The central verb of Matthew 28:19 is 'make' disciples.  Everything else we do revolves around that." (105)  [More specifically the verb is 'disciple' the nations. dlm]


"The word missional should describe the normal mode of the believer's life; act as a missionary." (106)


"We believe the church's purpose is to glorify God, not to make people happy.  The church does not exist for believers or unbelievers; it exists for God's glory, for the equipping of believers, and the church is God's missionary in the world." (114)


Chapter 7.  Directed by Love - Giving Up on Our "Needs"

"Our approach, even stateside, should be like that of missionaries, where the essentials of our faith are never altered, but the how of ministry is adjusted according to the who, when, and where of the congregation." (119)


"Simply put, being missional does not mean doing things the way we like them.  It means to take the gospel into the context where we have been called…and to some degree, to let the church take the best shape it can in order to reach a specific culture." (120, quoting the authors in Breaking the Missional Code)


"Around the world, we teach missionaries to take the gospel into different cultures.  We train them to love people, to love the culture of those people, and to give themselves away to them." (120)


"We intentionally teach them how to understand a different culture and how to minister in this new setting.  And we celebrate when they do.  But, did you know missionaries want us to do the same, intentionally working to understand our current culture and learning how to minister in communities that have radically changed over the last few decades?" (122) 


"What would make a church change a hundred years of traditions?  The only answer is love." (124)


"We will not reach the North America of the twenty-first century for Christ if we continue to try to do so with the church methods that worked in the North America of the 1950s." (124-25)


"Imagine how different our churches would be if people asked, 'If we did this in our church, would Jesus get the glory and would others be reached?'" (128)


"We should encourage one another to find out what a biblically faithful and culturally relevant church would look like in our community, and be the first to say, 'Send me.'" (129)


Chapter 8.  Sent to Love - Delivering What the World Needs Most

"Lyle [Schaller] asks, 'What year is it here?'  Every church is living in some era." (132)


"Our mission must be tied into the mission of Jesus, to seek and save those who are lost!" (136)


"When we keep ministry personal, then love drives us to effective delivery systems."  This is 'close-quarter combat.' "We look into the eyes of people every day who are apathetic, and sometimes opposed, to the gospel."  "Love drives missional ministry to be incarnate, next door to people who need it so desperately." (138)


"The Scriptures call us to 'contend for the faith' (Jude 3 HCSB).  Contending is most decidedly an apt description.  It means we have to take seriously what the Bible teaches and live it out in our lives--and that is not always popular." (138)


"The Scriptures also call us to contextualize.  That means we are to live out the gospel in different contexts and that looks different from place to place."  "We are to contend on the one hand; we must contextualize on the other.  If we're going to live out a biblically faithful church, we need to do what the bible says, and it says we have to get into the context in a way that the gospel can be proclaimed and understood." (139)


Chapter 9.  Joined by Love - Loving the Church and Being Loved in Church

"Professing believers say and do disrespectful things about the Bride of Christ--the church.  And what they say often is far more serious.  You can't say you love Jesus and abuse His wife." (142)


"How can anyone give even a cursory read to the New Testament and miss the supreme importance given to the church by the One who is most Supreme?" (143)


"Paul was willing to take a beating for the church because Jesus submitted to a brutal murder 'to make her [the church] holy….'" "Fall in love with the church."(143) 


"Don't panic!  The church belongs to Jesus and He will protect His Bride!" (144) 


"The church is under constant assault, for it stands alone against the night.  It demands constant reinforcement and steadfast commitment.  The church is not simply the vanguard of kingdom advance; it is the entire assault force." (144-45 quoting James Emery White in Serious Times)


"…the church is not the center of God's plan--Jesus is.  But the church is central to God's plan." (145)


"The very marker of the church to the watching world is an obvious love for one another inside the church." (145)


Chapter 10. Obedient Love - Intersection of Two Ideals

"Love and obedience intersect."  "If you love Me, [then] you will keep My commandments' (John 14:15 HCSB)."  "From the earth, love is self-serving.  From heaven's view, it is obeying."  "Obedience and love intermingle throughout the Scriptures." (162)  "We know that we have come to know him if we obey his commands" (I John 2:3 NIV). (163)


"…seeking more knowledge of God is not the way to experience God's love.  Instead, it's a by-product of our obedience to God and a result of God initiating an intimate relationship with us. Yet we tend to think the opposite--that knowledge brings about obedience.  But that isn't so.  Knowledge without love is meaningless; what matters is how it is used." (1650


"Obedience provides the proper place for knowledge to reside." (165)


"One of the most effective tools to move us from 'nice' to 'love' is prayer.  We must learn to pray that our attitudes toward a person or a situation will change." (167)


"The church, on mission, should be constantly proving the reality of God's love by the way we care, comfort, and enjoy one another." (168)


Chapter 11.  Guided by Love - Seeking to Do the Will of the Father

"[Love] is not a blend of our emotions, but the choice of who we owe.  And we owe everyone love.  It's a debt with no expiration date." (177)


"Our lives are to be a memorial honoring what Christ has done for us.  His love poured out on our behalf activates our love for others." (177)


"Love has emotions, but love is the battleground where God rescues the soul."  (182) 


"When we talk about love, it is not a weak emotional portent to submission of life.  It is the strongest characteristic that can be in the human experience.  Love speaks of the death to self." (182)


Chapter 12.  Called to Love - Living a Missionary Passion for the Lost

"First, we can pray to see people as God sees them.  We must begin to see the people around us in terms of whether they have a relationship with God.  We must see those without this relationship, as God sees them--harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd (Matthew 9:36 NIV)." (203)



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