The Forgotten Parts are the Most Important Parts

You know the Great Commission, right? Jesus said: 

Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. (Matthew 28:19-20a)

I've heard countless sermons and lessons on this important passage. It's hard to think of a more central command in Scripture than this one.

And we often leave out the most important parts, just like I did above. 

Here's the entire Great Commission, including the parts we often skip: 

And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”

This is so important that I can't overstate it. The Great Commission begins with the authority of Jesus and ends with the presence of Jesus. Our part (making disciples) makes no sense apart from these, nor is it anything I'd even try if they weren't true.

I'm banking everything on the fact that Jesus meant what he said. 

All authority in heaven and earth has been given to Jesus. As the risen Lord, he has absolute authority. He's in charge, not just over heaven but over earth as well. As Charles Simeon said, "He is enabled to overrule every thing for the accomplishment of his own purpose." Think you can make disciples apart from the authority of Jesus? Don't even try. But with his authority, we have everything we need.

He is with us always. As we carry out this command, no-one less than Jesus is with us.  Always. We have not been left alone to do this. A Companion is with us, and we can expect all the direction and support we need.

Again, Charles Simeon said, "Were it not for this encouragement, no man, possessed of reason, would presume to undertake [this command]: but depending on Christ’s promised aid, we do hope that our labour shall not be in vain in the Lord."

I wouldn't be doing what I'm doing apart from Jesus' promise of his authority and presence. I'm banking everything on the fact that he meant what he said. It's the only way that church planting and evangelism could ever make sense.

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Darryl Dash

Darryl Dash is a graduate of the University of Waterloo, Heritage Theological Seminary, and Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary. He’s married to Charlene, and has two children, Christina and Josiah. Darryl is currently planting Liberty Grace Church in Liberty Village, Toronto. He previously served as pastor of Richview Baptist Church and Park Lawn Baptist Church, both in west Toronto.

What's Good for the Advance of the Gospel?

I have a friend with a sunny disposition. It doesn't matter what happens to him; he smiles and finds something good to say. Coffee stain on his shirt? That color looks better anyway. A flat tire? What great timing! Tires are on sale this time of year. You can't get the guy down. 

I've never had the impression that the Apostle Paul had this type of personality. He seems to have been too realistic and too sarcastic to be accused of being the eternal optimist.

I'm struck, though, as I read the first chapter of Philippians, by Paul's outlook. Here's a rough summary of the three problems that Paul faced and his response to them:

  • Jail? Great! Paul gets to share the gospel among the imperial guard, and the Roman church is becoming more bold and confident as they watch his example.
  • Paul's reputation being sullied by fellow believers? Not a problem, as long as Christ's name is being made great. 
  • Possible death? Then Paul get to be with Jesus. However, Paul is ready to live and serve the Lord if that's what He wants.

The key to Paul's attitude is that he's stopped living for himself, and he's started living for a higher purpose: the advance of the gospel. The question has stopped being what is good for Paul. The question has become what is good for the advance of the gospel. And that makes all the difference in the world.

If we're living for ourselves, then suffering will be both inevitable and brutal. If we are living for the advance of the gospel, suffering will still be inevitable, but it will be for a purpose. Our greatest aspiration will be that the gospel is advanced in every circumstance. I'm praying that my heart will be consumed with this reality so that it matters more than my comfort, reputation, or even my life. 

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Darryl Dash

Darryl Dash is a graduate of the University of Waterloo, Heritage Theological Seminary, and Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary. He’s married to Charlene, and has two children, Christina and Josiah. Darryl is currently planting Liberty Grace Church in Liberty Village, Toronto. He previously served as pastor of Richview Baptist Church and Park Lawn Baptist Church, both in west Toronto.

Middleware and Models

Most of the books, conferences, and blogs available these days seem to fit into one of two categories:

  • Practical - I love reading about best practices. I want to learn from anyone I can, including business stuff. But the practical stuff doesn’t seem to go deep enough. I’ve attended entire Christian conferences, for instance, in which I can’t remember opening a Bible. It’s as if we believe we need to leave the Bible behind in order to be practical.
  • Theological - I love theology, and I love Scripture. But I’ve often been exposed to lots of material that is heady, but not translated into the life and ministry of the local church. It’s as if we think that we just need to get the doctrine right, and everything else will take care of itself.

This is a problem. It often feels like I’m bouncing between the pragmatic and theological, instead of applying theology to life and ministry.

We need two things:

Middleware - Tim Keller talks about this in his book Center Church. He calls this space between theological foundations and ministry models middleware. It's a theological vision that bridges the gap between our doctrinal foundation and the particular forms of ministry. He writes:

This is something more practical than just doctrinal beliefs but much more theological than “how-to steps” for carrying out a particular ministry. Once this vision is in place, with its emphases and values, it leads church leaders to make good decisions on how to worship, disciple, evangelize, serve, and engage culture in their field of ministry — whether in a city, suburb, or small town.

I’m convinced we need more books, conferences and blogs that dwell in this middle space, bridging the gap between theology and praxis.

Models - For a long time it seemed like all the people with good theology had unhealthy churches, and all the healthy churches had slightly wobbly theology. I had a hard time finding churches that were theologically thoughtful and effective in ministry. I’m sure it wasn’t really that way, but it sure seemed so. I’m grateful now for dozens of churches locally that model both. We need more models of good theology married to effective ministry.

We need more middleware and models. I’m praying to this end, and I hope you will too.

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Darryl Dash

Darryl Dash is a graduate of the University of Waterloo, Heritage Theological Seminary, and Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary. He’s married to Charlene, and has two children, Christina and Josiah. Darryl is currently planting Liberty Grace Church in Liberty Village, Toronto. He previously served as pastor of Richview Baptist Church and Park Lawn Baptist Church, both in west Toronto.

Learning Missional Community

A month or so ago, I met a couple of people who live in two condo units on the same floor in Toronto. They work together during the day at a Christian ministry, but on their evenings and weekends they’re living intentionally in the condominium to build relationships with neighbours.

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I’ve read and listened to a lot of material on missional community, but this is one of the first examples I’ve seen of people living this way in Toronto. Here’s some of what I’ve learned from this couple so far:

Pray. One of the two began praying about living in community and on mission ten years ago. It took nine years before God worked to make it possible. Don’t underemphasize the importance of praying that God will work in your life to make it possible for you to do this.

Don’t do it alone. One of them tried doing this alone, but it didn’t really work. It takes two or more together. People don’t need another friend; they need a community. If you are just one more friend, even a good one, then people see it as just being your personality. When two very different people live on mission together where they live, then people begin to understand that it’s God working in you. Besides, it can be a lot less creepy than if you try to initiate significant relationships alone.

Be intentional and be yourself. Living on mission together is not complicated, but it’s hard. It takes time, which is incredibly costly. Make deliberate decisions to build relationships with those around you, and be yourself. Be honest about your shortcomings and your own struggles.

Eat. Living on mission together, they say, is pretty much one meal after another. You see this in the gospels. You’re going to eat anyway, so use meals as a way to connect relationally with others.

Follow your interests. Use your passions to connect with others. This couple started a writer’s group. Use whatever hobbies or interests you have to build relationships with others.

Keep short accounts. You can’t live on mission together without working through relational issues. Deal with them before they impede God’s work. You will make mistakes; apologize quickly to those around you, both Christians and those who aren’t.

God works through imperfect people. This couple is far from perfect, as are all of us. Don’t wait until you arrive before you start to live on mission.

Trust the Word. One of the two runs a Bible study in the condo. It’s only one of the things they do as they build relationships, and not everybody is interested, but they strongly believe that God does his work as people encounter the power of God’s Word.

Expect small things. Don’t underestimate that God will work in significant ways through seemingly small things. You don’t know what God will do through the one person you love in Jesus’ name. Even if you only ever build deep relationships with six people, God can do a work through those.

This is just some of what I’ve been learning. For more on missional communities, check out some of the following:

Soma School Session Four: Building Missional Communities

Missional Community Resources by Todd Engstrom

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Darryl Dash

Darryl Dash is a graduate of the University of Waterloo, Heritage Theological Seminary, and Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary. He’s married to Charlene, and has two children, Christina and Josiah. Darryl is currently planting Liberty Grace Church in Liberty Village, Toronto. He previously served as pastor of Richview Baptist Church and Park Lawn Baptist Church, both in west Toronto.

More than Beautifully Packaged Garbage

For just $50, you can buy some authentic, hand-picked New York City Garbage. This is no April Fool's joke! Check it out yourself:

Justin Gignac is a New York City based artist and entrepreneur. He began selling garbage in 2001 after a co-worker challenged the importance of package design. To prove them wrong, he set out to find something that no one would ever buy, and package it to sell. Looking around the dirty streets of Times Square, garbage was the perfect answer. Twelve years later, over 1,400 NYC Garbage cubes have been sold and now reside in 30 countries around the world.

Who would think it was possible to sell trash off the street? It seems that marketing and packaging is everything. It seems that you can sell even garbage if it is packaged the right way. In fact, pretty much everything that's sold to us is a version of beautifully packaged garbage of one kind or another.

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It hit me today: that is what much of the world things we are selling too. Last week I spoke on Mark 15 and 16 to some university students. I made the point that Mark's gospel is either a complete load of rubbish, or it is true and changes everything. One young man looked at me and told me that he thinks there is a third alternative: that is not true, but it is beautiful nonetheless. He liked the beauty and depth of the Christian story while refusing to believe that it is true. He's wrong. If the gospel is only pretty trash, then it's a curiosity at best. It's hardly worth much of our time or attention.

We're not selling beautifully packaged garbage. If the gospel is true, and Jesus did rise from the dead, then that changes everything. I will devote my life to showing people the beauty of something that is not just beautiful but true, something that not only is pleasant to look at but that is also life- and cosmos- changing in scope.

Pretty much everything that the world sells is a version of beautifully packaged garbage. I'm so glad that Easter offers us more.

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Darryl Dash

Darryl Dash is a graduate of the University of Waterloo, Heritage Theological Seminary, and Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary. He’s married to Charlene, and has two children, Christina and Josiah. Darryl is currently planting Liberty Grace Church in Liberty Village, Toronto. He previously served as pastor of Richview Baptist Church and Park Lawn Baptist Church, both in west Toronto.