Do You Feel, Think & Speak Insider or Outsider?

Living out the church’s Great Commission / Great Commmandment calling requires that passion for Jesus and His gospel be lived out with thoughtful intentionality.            Three key ideas must be coordinated. We have an authoritative, unchanging and nonnegotiable

                          +mission (make disciples of all nations);

engage in

                         +missions (following a glocal impulse for practical, servant-hearted involvement  in our neighborhoods and among the nations);

with the ultimate goal that each disciple will live a

                          +missional life (engaging in disciple-making in the normal traffic patterns of their life at home, school, work, play, etc.) 

Living missionally means that each member of a faith-family will interact in a gospel-centered way with those who have not yet trusted Christ, or the ones Paul refers to as outsiders.

 Walk in wisdom toward outsiders, making the best use of the time. Let your speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how you ought to answer each person. (Col. 4:5-6)

In another passage, Paul asserted his understanding that the gospel mandates our adjustment to various people groups “for the sake of the gospel.”  Listen:

For though I am free from all, I have made myself a servant to all, that I might win more of them. To the Jews I became as a Jew, in order to win Jews. To those under the law I became as one under the law (though not being myself under the law) that I might win those under the law. To those outside the law I became as one outside the law (not being outside the law of God but under the law of Christ) that I might win those outside the law. To the weak I became weak, that I might win the weak. I have become all things to all people, that by all means I might save some. I do it all for the sake of the gospel, that I may share with them in its blessings. (1 Cor.9:19-23)

So, one aspect of “walking in wisdom” is that we carefully gauge the attitudes  with which we approach those who have not yet trusted Christ.  This is especially challenging for those who have walked with Christ or been actively involved with a church for a long time. For most, the longer we are Christ-followers, the more time we spend at church and with Christians, and the fewer far-from-God friends we have and the less interaction we have with non-Christian environments.

We can demonstrate insider thinking and values (giving primary consideration those who have already trusted Christ and are connected with his church) or outsider thinking and values (giving primary consideration to those who have yet to trust Christ and are not connected with his church).  And the attitudes always lead to words and actions.

So, “walking wisely” means we think carefully and prayerfully about our attitudes that are (whether we realize it or not) shaping our interactions and ministries with precious people who don’t know Jesus.

See how you’re doing- and suggest additional categories in the comments.

Insider Thinking /Values                                Outsider Thinking/ Values church                                                                              community

me                                                                                        others

ours                                                                                      theirs

assumes (everybody already knows)                 anticipates (what they need to know)

language known (Christian-ese)                            language  translated (no dilution)

status quo / keep it the same           adjustment for mission                                      

protection of pet programs                               evaluation for mission effectiveness

budget maintains here                                       budget invests there

manage comfort for us                                       engage discomfort for them

my preference                                                      their need

safety                                                                        risk

come here                                                              go there

services received                                                service given

ownership / keeping                                          partnership / sharing

keep it clean                                                          make sure it’s used

value stuff & systems                                    treasure people & souls

real goal: nice church people                         real goal: lives transformed by Jesus

source: hard work & organization                source: desperate for Spirit’s power

now                                                                            eternity

mere religion                                                          Jesus’ gospel


2 responses

  1. […] Read about “insider” and “outsider” language in the church. […]

  2. Thanks for telling the plain truth, right on target. The transition from insider to outsider will determine the whole future of the church and the gospel in our culture. Not a simple or easy transition but desperately needed.

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