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An Excellent Book

Some of you who read a copy of my “Annotated Bibliography” a few years back will remember that Jerry Cook’s first book, Love, Acceptance, and Forgiveness, was on my all time Top Ten list. It’s still there, and it’s now been joined by it’s sequel, Monday Morning Church.

MMC is one of those books that made me say, “Yes, this is what I’ve been trying to communicate to the church!” Of course, Cook’s thoughts are cogent and persuasive, while mine rattle around my head like the last two Milk-Duds in the box…

The book is about what it means to “be the church” in the world we live in, rather than “going to church” in a building.

Here’s an excerpt that I hope will whet your appetite:

Everyday Evangelism: Christ in You
You are called not so much to do great things, as to be a great person–and that person is Jesus Christ. The Church is the resident presence of Jesus in the world.

No matter how big church attendance is on Sunday, it will never penetrate the culture with Jesus. The reason is clear: The church on Sunday is experienced by the church community; it is only observed by the unbelieving community.

However, Monday through Saturday, the church operates in the experience of non-believers. It lives on their turf, moves in their society, and operates in their culture. On Monday Jesus becomes incarnate through you. And because He can be seen and touched, He can be received or rejected. True evangelism is possible.

Your Strategic Placement

Most Christians have been trained quite well to be the church on Sunday. But what does it take to be the church on Monday?

The first step is to recognize your strategic placement. “Strategic placement” means this: each redeemed, Spirit-filled Christian has been strategically placed by Jesus, the Lord of the church. Where each believing man or woman lives and works is part of that strategy. Christians are people of destiny, purposely placed deep in our culture. We are God’s points of penetration. Because of us Jesus is present at the very heart of society. And it is this strategic presence of Christ that opens the door for his revelation as Savior to man.

Incarnational Christianity doesn’t try to get people to God. Many men and women don’t want to get to God. Others are unaware there is a God to get to! The incarnation was God coming to us; in a similar way, incarnational Christianity brings Jesus to man.

That’s the basis for true evangelism: in the believer the presence of Christ reaches out to others. It’s also the basis for true discipleship: in the believer the presence of Christ walks alongside the new believer. Thus, the two main activities of the church–conversion and discipling–are wed, as they were meant to be. The Great Commission, after all is not simply to go into all the world and make converts; we are to go and make disciples.

Jesus said simply, “I am the way. If you have found me, you have found God.” Unfortunately, the church often adds a debilitating step to the divine program. We say, “Jesus is the way to God, and the church is the way to Jesus. Come to the church and find Jesus, then Jesus will take you to God.” We must never allow the church institution to be the way to God. Jesus himself is the Way. The goal of the church on Monday is to make the Way present and visible in the world.

Open for Business

Of course, it does no good to have a strategic force in place if the people don’t know they are strategic, don’t know they are a force, and don’t know they are in place.

Most Christians give mental assent to this idea of strategic placement, but they have no concept of its implications. Some think of inviting hurting people to a church program, others think of using some type of soul-winning gimmick to make a convert. Most, however, don’t do anything with the idea at all. It simply floats around, untapped, in the background of their experience. They’re strategically placed, but they’re not “open for business.”

“Christ in you, the hope of glory” (Col. 1:27) means you are filled with the Holy Spirit and Jesus is present wherever you go. You are capable of responding to the needs of others exactly the way Jesus would. The gifts of the Spirit are how Jesus works through you to touch people’s lives.

Our time on earth is about being Jesus in our world. Jesus didn’t come to our planet on vacation; He came on assignment. Likewise, you and I have not been born here and now accidentally. We don’t just happen to bump into hurting people. There’s divine strategy at work. You are where you are because God strategically placed you there.

I’m convinced that if more Christians were open for business, then more business would show up. Evangelism as a primary goal is often artificial and powerless. But when it’s a serendipity of spirit-filled believers being Jesus in their world, it is natural and unstoppable!

–Excerpted from The Monday Morning Church by Jerry Cook. Reprinted with permission from http://www.jerrycook.org.

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