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When table-talk trumps pulpit...
For most of our years in Mexico, church happened in our house. As our gatherings grew, our Sunday routine would begin on Saturday. We had to get living room, kitchen and tiny bedrooms ready. The back bathroom became the dog’s meditation room. After morning Bible study and kids’ classes, it took the afternoon to make the house our house again.
“Intimate” is not strong enough to describe those Sunday mornings. They clarified and refined our focus on what really was the Lord’s work. They were the best of times!
We were learning: my amazing preaching wasn’t stirring people to get with the program. Their lives weren’t smoothing out simply by listening better.
We were learning: real disciple-making requires building relationships… and you don’t grow relationships from behind a pulpit.
Solid exposition of the Bible is requisite… somebody has to do it. But the pulpit comes with its own set of pitfalls and shortcomings. The main pitfall: undue authority resting on the shoulders of one man or leadership team (a subject worthy of it’s own post). The main shortcoming: the not so subtle shift away from investing in relationships… the kind needed to make new friends and nurture new disciples.
Every scribe who has been trained for the kingdom of heaven is like a master of a house, who brings out of his treasure what is new and what is old. (Matthew 13:52, ESV)
Rats… I was hoping for organized and efficient... like a how-to video on Youtube. Jesus saw it differently though.
Handling the treasure—the Word of God—requires we be appropriate every time we use it… the right words… in the right measure… at the right time.
To make an apt answer is a joy to a man, and a word in season, how good it is! (Proverbs 15:23, ESV)
So… our modus operandi—ordained by Jesus—is being intentionally flexible… subversive almost. It requires an eye for the endgame… a proactive searching for the Spirit’s leading… patience to lead by nudges… and a loving desire to preserve relationships.
Disciple-making is hard work. It humbles and stretches the disciple-maker in ways that preaching a sermon will not. And it’s so worth it! There is nothing more exciting than watching people enjoy discovering Jesus… and making life-altering decisions—even in the face of resistance from friends and family.
Sobremesa (sobre=over; mesa=table)—It’s our time to shine! Do you have a table? A couple of chairs? A coffee pot? A Bible? A neighbor who needs God?
Let’s plan some coffee dates! Let’s pray about the next after-meal table talk!