The Cost of the ‘Tune in Drop Out Revolution’

I blame people like Barna for ruining my life… I have tuned in and dropped out. I have been in the ‘ministry’ now for some time and as I reflect on those years, I wonder how could I have been so wrong on so many things?

In all of those years I experienced a degree of discontent within ministry, with churches I led, with ministries I was involved in, with my life. But I didn’t ever consider that discontent was God telling me ‘tune in and drop out’.

I have undergone a revolution of epic propotions. I am no longer that interested in how many turn up on a Sunday, nor how much money is given in the plate, or how many people are involved in small groups, or how trendy and professional the worship is. Actually it is even more than that… My sense of security, self worth, and even significance is no longer wrapped up in the things I do… Something. Has. Happened.

And it has ruined my ignorance.

It is no longer “my ministry, my church, my preaching” and therefore I’m not the one who brings about change. It is God’s words, it is God’s work, it is God’s love, His Spirit, His gospel which is the power.

So yes, I have tuned in and dropped out. I have dropped out of the rat race of ministry and have tuned into God and now I am letting Him do the work! Novel idea, hey?

I no longer try to be an evangelist. I no longer do evangelism and have just started to invite people into my life, a life which I share with the King.

Now I know some might say I’ve taken the easy way out, that I’ve given up on ‘the work’ just so I don’t have to do the things which need to be done… valid things like pastoral care, evangelism and let’s not forget to mention the other things like whipping people into a tithing frenzy or just plain old being involved in things like teaching sunday school.

I even teach a thing called ‘posture evangelism’ with the same degree of determination as I teach ‘proclamation evangelism’.

But I’ve noticed a very disturbing trend… a trend which needs to be addressed and fast!

Some of the people who have known me have taken what I’ve said about posture evangelism and have used those things as permission to do exactely what I was talking about before. They have given up altogether with doing things. They have taken the easy way out. It would seem that some have used this talk of a revolution as nothing more than an excuse to complain and whinge about someone or something, and an excuse for not putting in the hard yards.

Part of what I’m trying to articulate has been discussed before in the argument of ‘living a missional life’ as opposed to doing ‘evangelism’. I recently twittered the saying the other day ‘that evangelism exists because we do not live a missional life’… the reaction was gold!

So I want to balance the ledger a little. While I have said many times ‘I suggest we stop doing ‘evangelism’ and start living a life worthy of inviting people into’, this is only part of it.

Tuning in and dropping out is very costly, as I see it, but costly for all the right reasons. If a person does tune in and drop it is in fact a much harder, much more costly life, and that person will pay the price for that decision. But in my mind the reward is a life driven by the primacy of the gospel and the subsequent natural outworking of the priority of evangelism.

You might ask, ‘How can posture evangelism or missional life as opposed to proclamation evangelism, be so difficult or even costly?’

First, personal experience indicates living a missional life is harder than you can imagine. It means being available at any time, particularly for those who you share your life with. When you want to spend a quiet night with your family, but you get a call to go out for dinner or a BBQ… which do you choose? A BBQ or dinner doesn’t sound like a costly thing, but when you weigh it up against spending time with your family it can be!

Second, missional living can be difficult when you realise you need to sacrifice your need to be right all the time in order to give others the best possible opportunity to see and understand Christ in you.  Sometimes we can give the right answer at the wrong time. Sometimes the right answer can not be appreciated because the other person hasn’t developed the relationship with you to such a degree that they are ready to hear the answer.

Third, it’s hard to live the missional life with people who don’t have the same circumstances as you. Now this is a tricky one to explain and it’s not often spoken about (maybe in case others might think less of us? Not sure). Sometimes we find ourselves in situations which will over stretch us.. in many areas. But take finance for example; sometimes we might have to surrender our three step plan for financial freedom just so we can be with the others we’ve invited into our lives. Sometimes the other person has no idea of the hardship it might place us under. However, this in itself can be a talking point and can be beneficial in helping the person see an even bigger issue.

Fourth, it is hard to live the missional life as opposed to doing evangelism or proclamation evangelism because we come under attack from those who should know better… sadly this is the hardest and most unnecessary hardship. We can become ostracised by those within the Kingdom. People who we may have once looked up to. People who are gospel people. People who are gifted at presenting the gospel. It is sometimes easy for them to think we have deserted the gospel when the reverse is often true.

If you’re living the kind of mission life I’ve described above, you have probably given up more than ever for the sake of the gospel! The security you once experienced in “going to church” will no longer be the security you now have. It is important if this is true for you that you first find security in the loving grace of God and you seek out like-minded believers to help you… even if it is simply to increase the size of the net you are fishing with!

I encourage you to pay the price of living a missional life and to be ready at all times to give an account of the gospel. Always look for opportunity!

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