Well, this week I got to sit down with one of my heroes of the faith — Dallas Willard at USC and talk about life, ministry, church, etc. — it was an amazing time. He seemed to have all the time in the world for me, offered to connect again anytime, and even come up to Kairos in Hollywood this fall for some talks with the church. What a blessing he is.
I have been re-reading his book, Renovation of the Heart and here are some quotes that really struck me afresh…
“If spiritual formation is to be the central focus of the local congregation, the group must be possessed by the vision of apprenticeship to Jesus in kingdom living as the central reality of salvation and as the basic good news, and they must have formed the clear intention to be disciples and to make disciples, as the central project of their group” (p. 244)
“It is, I gently suggest, a serious error to make “outreach” a primary goal of the local congregation, and especially so when those who are already “with us” have not become clear-headed and devoted apprentices of Jesus, and are not, for the most part, solidly progressing along the path. Outreach is one essential task of Christ’s people, and among them there will always be those especially gifted for evangelism. But the most successful world of outreach would be the work of inreach that turns people, wherever they are, into lights in the darkened world.” (p.244)
“A simple goal for the leaders of a particular group would be to bring all those in attendance to understand clearly what it means to be a disciple of Jesus and to be solidly committed to discipleship in their whole life. That is, when asked who they are, the first words out of their mouth would be, “I am an apprentice of Jesus Christ.” This goal would have to be approached very gently and lovingly and patiently with existing groups, where the people involved have not understood this to be a part of their membership commitment.”
(p. 241-2 – These too are matters in which we are to be constantly learning how Jesus would lead our lives if he were we. He would do those things if he were we.)