Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Church according to Gordon and Mary Cosby

Church according to Gordon and Mary Cosby

Recently I read a Sojourners' interview of Gordon and Mary Cosby. This Washington DC ministry couple struck me as one of the most sho'nuff, effective pastoral teams today. In particular, I gleaned four lessons from reading their interview. I will post the four lessons in succession, one lesson per post. Enjoy!

1. The Inward-Outward Journey

Mr. Cosby remarked that cell groups (small clusters of church members meeting on a regular basis) never turn into mission. While this may not always prove true, many cell groups - at least the ones I have seen - focus exclusively on the inward aspects of prayer, devotional bible reading, and encouraging one's fellow cell group members. This inward focus is necessary - but discipleship is also about the outward journey. Discipleship means deepening the inner life, as well as doing acts of mercy with the poor and pleading the cause of society's vulnerable with our votes and vocations. It also means being willing to follow Jesus into the Samarias of our world. The places where we would rather not go, are precisely the places we must go, I am suggesting, in order to faithfully walk the outward journey of discipleship.

As a child, I immersed myself in Bible study, worship services, and ministry to my peers. This immersion, in turn, set my feet on the inward journey of discipleship. Yet it was not until I likewise immersed myself in service with the poor, and travel experiences that showed me another side of globalization, on another side of the globe in China (I am from Atlanta), that I grasped the outward journey of discipleship.

The inward journey revolves around loving God with all of our heart, mind, soul, and strength; the outward journey centers on loving our neighbor as we love ourselves (Matt. 22:37-40). But the true insight is to realize, as did Gordon and Mary Cosby, that these two journeys are not two seperate walkways, but one path, that peculiar lifestyle that the book of Acts calls the Way.

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