Beyond opening his home to me and teaching me about Jesus, Steve took me all over Australia and even overseas to experience mission of the church firsthand. He taught me to talk to kids in the local high school about Jesus and to love those who were slowly finding their way back to God. He gave me my first opportunity to preach in a church—when I was 16.
I wanted to do what Steve did, so when I was 18, I became a pastor and got to work with him as his assistant youth pastor. When I was 20, Steve walked my wife down the aisle at our wedding (Maria's father had passed away several years before). When I was 24, we dreamed together and took the plunge into church planting as we started The Junction. We all knew it would be different because Steve is different, but we never knew how different it would be from your standard church plant.
The mentoring and discipleship that Steve gave me shaped my view of Jesus and how I should follow him. For the first part of our marriage, Maria and I poured ourselves into the lives of the young people at our local church, and then into the young adults and families of our new church plant. We opened our home and ate regularly with people. Whether it was refugees or newlyweds, we gave people time. We shared life with them. And this is how we live our life today.
More than a Friendly Church
When I came to the United States to lead Forge America and work with grassroots missionaries, megachurches, and multisite churches, I wanted to have the same posture. I don't want to belong to a friendly church that doesn't see life as something to be shared. I want the people of God to find and build friendships—lifelong ones. I value shared life.
This is one of the most intangible yet valuable postures of a missionary. It's discipleship in its simplest form. As Mike Breen, director of 3DM, says, the missional church will die without discipleship. Mike and his wife, Sally, lead their organization as if it were their family. That is the ethos of shared life we need in our churches and in our missional teams.
1. How much margin do I have in my life for this kind of shared life? What needs to go so I can create more margin?
2. As a leader, how much time and energy do I invest in relationships with group members where real life-on-life action takes place?
3. As a pastor, director, or coach, how can I share life with my leaders in this way?