T4A Pre-Conference with Tim Chester Session 1

The Together for Adoption conference starts tomorrow, but kicked off today with a pre-conference with Tim Chester. Tim is a church planter with The Crowded House. He is the author of Total Church, A Meal with Jesus and You can Change, three books that should be required reading for every Christian and church leader.

In this pre-conference, he is covering The Story of God’s people, The Story of God’s mission, and The Story of God’s kingdom. Much of the material came from his book Delighting in the Trinity.The main point of the first session is The story of God’s people, who we are as followers of Jesus is rooted in the Biblical story and our identity is given to us by God. Who we are drives what we do, not the other way around. Too many churches and Christians focus on what they do, instead of who they are.

Here are some notes:

  • The missional church does not come from a cultural analysis, a rejection of the traditional church or looking for a better way of doing church. The missional church starts with the story of the Bible as one unified story.
  • There are 3 central themes in the Bible story and how that affects the identity of Christians and how those 3 identities are rooted in the character of the Trinity.
  • Who we are drives what we do. Our identity drives our action, not the other way around.
  • Our identities: family, servant, learner and missionary are not identities we achieve, but identities given to us by the Father.
  • Discipleship begins with who we are in Christ, not action.
  • The gospel story makes us who we are, not what we do as followers of Jesus.
The Story of God’s people
  • The story of the Bible starts with God and moves into his relationship with us as his people.
  • At the heart of the Bible story is the story of community.
  • God makes humans through relationships, we are human because of relationships.
  • Our western culture rejects this because our culture says the individual is king.
  • Human beings made in the image of God are person’s in relationship.
  • What makes us unique is the relationships we have, no one else has the relationships I have. My identity is being who I am through relationships.
  • We often define ourselves through what makes us different from other people instead of relationships.
  • The account of humanity’s creation shows how important relationships are.
  • We are made to exist in community, for community.
  • We were made for community with God, but after the fall, we seek to isolate ourselves from God and he becomes our enemy. We seek to hide from God.
  • In Genesis 12, God gives us the destination of the Bible story.
  • Central to the promise in Genesis 12 is the promise of a people, offspring.
  • Abraham will become a family, a family will become a nation.
  • Both Abraham and Sarah laugh at the idea of having a child because of their age (Genesis 18 & 19). When Isaac is born, his name means “laughter” as if he’s the punchline to the joke.
  • Exodus 1, the promise of a people is fulfilled. The family has become a nation.
  • God fulfills his promise to Abraham by not just saving from slavery, but saving them to something.
  • After the Exodus, the question comes, “How can a holy God live among a sinful people?” and the book of Leviticus provides the answer.
  • At the start of 1 Kings, we see that the people of Israel have numbered greatly and we are seeing the promise of Abraham fulfilled again.
  • God’s people are to be a people who know God, but the people refuse this relationship.
  • Zechariah 13 describes a faithful remnant of God’s people who will be God’s people.
How Jesus fulfills what it means to be God’s people
  • In Jesus, we see “God with us.” Walking with humanity as God walked with Adam and Eve.
  • Jesus is not only God with us, he is God’s people. In Jesus, God’s people are fully faithful.
  • He is God among us, but he is truly the people of God.
  • In Zechariah 13, God’s faithful are 1/3 of Israel, but that isn’t the end of the story. In fact, in Matthew 26:31 Jesus quotes Zechariah 13 showing that God’s faithful people have now become one person, the Lord Jesus Christ.
  • The faithfulness of Jesus to the very end is the epitome of what faithful people will be.
  • The climax of the story of the new creation is the new humanity, reconciled to God through the sacrifice of Jesus.
What about the church?
  • When we share the gospel, if we invite people into the people of God, we invite them to be a part of the family of the church.
  • We often invite people individually, go to heaven alone and then wonder why they don’t want to be a part of the family of God.
  • We model and embody God’s love for one another.
  • I belong to the body of Christ, each member belongs to one another (Romans 12:5).
  • Missional community is not a fad, it is rooted in the Bible story. It is who we are.
  • The creation of the people of God is at the heart of the mission of God.
  • When sharing the gospel, we must make a distinction in our culture between the church as an institution and the church as the family of God, which is a more biblical picture of the church.
  • People are often attracted to the Christian community before they are attracted to the Christian message.
  • In the New Testament, community is never abstract, it is always presented in a concrete way.
  • The people in your small group, Christ has chosen them and fitted them together. You have not come together accidentally.
  • You can’t do the one-another’s in the New Testament without a deep commitment and a deep involvement in the lives of other Christians.
  • In a missional community, the Bible is central to the time, but it is more than a Bible study. It is about a shared life beyond that one meeting time during the week. It is also not insular, it is not about them or just caring for the members of the church much like a support group.
  • The church will never outperform the show culture can put on, but there is nothing like the community life of the church.
  • It’s about shared life.
  • Community should affect our decision making, it is not just about individuals.
  • You are not a person on your own anymore, you are part of the family of God. You need to think differently in terms of your life choices because of the commitment to be a part of the family of God.
This session was a great start to the day looking at Scripture to see who the people of God are, how that shapes us as Christians and churches.

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