Coram Deo’s Launch Team participated in the Lord’s Supper together for the first time on Sunday, August 28, 2005. Though we’re not a fully functioning, publicly meeting church yet, we are a bona fide local expression of the body of Christ… and this sacrament unites us to the rest of the body – past, present, and future.

Much yet to be done… but so much already done for us by Christ!!!

We’ve been talking a lot about engaging culture and being missional. I fear that some of us are wearing this calling like a burden, saddled with a narrow definition of culture – as if going to a bar or an art show is the only way to really engage the world around us. While we do need to move outside our usual circles of comfort, it’s also true that mission is all around us. Engaging culture happens down the street, around the corner, in the front yard. It happens anytime we move outside of ‘cultural Christianity’ to truly love and serve people around us in the name of Christ.

My wife is a stay-at-home mom, trying to raise and disciple 3 kids. If we’re trying to plant a church that’s hip to the down-towny arts scene, she’s not a prime player. But since Coram Deo is about engaging the culture where you are, even a mom at home with kids can live on mission.

Yesterday she went to the park with another mom from Coram Deo. As they were watching the kids play, they noticed an Asian woman with her boys playing nearby. Since we’re in the process of adopting a baby from China, my wife struck up a conversation to find out where this woman was from. Turns out – you guessed it – she’s Chinese. She has 3 boys. Her husband works in research at the Med Center. And the prospect of adopting a Chinese baby girl provided a natural bridge for interaction. Could it be that a sovereign God is at work in this situation?

No idea where this woman is spiritually. Maybe she’s atheistic, like most Chinese. Maybe she’s Mormon – she did live in Utah for a year! Maybe we’ll have a chance to bless this woman by talking about the gospel of Christ. But even if that’s a long time coming, she’ll bless us by helping us understand the Chinese culture a little more fully. We’re hoping that a friendship will be created, and that perhaps through that friendship, the gospel will travel.

Life is mission. Don’t get sucked into thinking you have to do something drastically different. Just open your eyes to where you are, and start living intentionally!

What if there was a missional church, gathering in the heart of the city to renew covenant with God and celebrate his grace, and fanning out from there to live the Coram Deo life in neighborhoods and workplaces and schools all over the city? This building may be God’s provision for this vision to become reality…

What if there was a missional church, gathering in the heart of the city to renew covenant with God and celebrate his grace, and fanning out from there to live the Coram Deo life in neighborhoods and workplaces and schools all over the city? This building may be God’s provision for this vision to become reality…

Last night’s living-room discussion raised an interesting issue that deserves more elucidation and discussion here on the blog. The question is: how do you measure what it looks like to be a follower of Jesus?

Many churches choose to measure the boundary markers. The language is dichotomous: believer/unbeliever, member/non-member, in/out. And the boundary markers tend to be things that are external and easy to measure: behavior, attendance, signing off on a particular creed, dressing a certain way, doing the things that the “in” people do. If you do these things, you’re considered a “member” or insider. If you don’t do them, you’re an outsider.

Now certainly there are elements of truth in this model. We cannot entirely lose the language of believer/unbeliever, because Jesus makes it clear that those categories matter. But the problems with this model are obvious: externals become the main thing, rather than true heart transformation.

Instead of focusing on the boundaries, we want to put the focus on the center. What does it look like to passionately follow Jesus? Is your life reflecting the transformation that comes from His Spirit? Do you love people like He did? Are you living in light of the gospel more this week than last week? Is God more primary in your life today than yesterday? Is Christ everything to you?

When our focus is on the center, the boundaries become fuzzier. Some people will start to follow Jesus, and it won’t be totally clear when they “crossed the boundary.” Others will take longer to break patterns of sin in their life, but will truly be experiencing the knowledge of the grace of God in their souls. But the center is the main thing. The boundaries are peripheral.

This also means that for those of us on the preparation team, the bar is higher. Because “membership” in Coram Deo (whatever that comes to mean) isn’t about signing off on a doctrinal statement or taking a membership class or reciting the Apostles’ Creed while standing on one leg. It’s about whether there is evidence in your life that Christ is the center, and that the values of Coram Deo are your values. That’s both more subjective and more reliable than checking the boundary markers. Because you can fake the external stuff; but the heart has a way of showing itself.

To quote Jesus, “Out of the overflow of the heart the mouth speaks.” “These people honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me.” “Make the tree good, and its fruit will be good; make the tree bad, and its fruit will be bad.” The reason Jesus was so bothersome to the Pharisees is that he had a centered-set view of the kingdom of God. The Pharisees were busy marking the boundaries; Jesus was busy dealing with people’s hearts. That’s what we want to do, too.