Being Church: Outward Looking

Author: Chris Mabey Date: Sunday, March 5, 2017 Campus:


In this series we have looked at the supernatural, praying, generous Church…today we consider the outward looking church

I’m going to share an old story, a new story, a map and an assignment

SLIDE 2:   2 Kings 5  v1-6 [please display these verses]

What do we notice about Namaan…he was a powerful and successful commander. Note God had given him victory, little did he know it. He was also desperate to get well. Its not much fun being a highly visible celebrity if you have a skin disease.

The lets look at this unnamed girl who was in his household. She was a captive…what we today would call a victim of human trafficking. She was no older than 13. She was in a foreign land…Aram is now called Aleppo. She is wrenched from family and friends. She is is in the wrong job, in the wrong place,  with the wrong people with the wrong present and the wrong future.

Yet what is her reaction to the situation: “ If only my master  would see the prophet of Samaria. He would cure him of all his diseases.” What an amazing reaction. It would have been so easy, so natural for her to keep her head down, to be resentful, to be self-pitying….but no, in this simple statement she was demonstrating both love and faith. She wanted the best for her employer and she was willing to put her faith on the line by promising healing.

And look how much God can do with so little. A young girl with no name in a place she didn’t want to be.

Lets pick up the story..

SLIDE 3:  2 Kings 5 v 13-15 [please display these verses]

Probably the most stunning thing about this story is that Namaan goes! Why would a powerful, highly regarded leader take notice of a servant girl? If we read between the lines, I think she had been in his household long enough for him to notice something about her, she had somehow earned his respect. Why else would he go to the king of Aram to seek dispensation to visit the King of Israel? Why else would he have loaded his caravan of camels with a huge gift offering?

Anyway he goes and the King of Israel is initially disinterested, but Elisha – the resident prophet - gets to hear about it and ask to see him. I love the next bit. There is this great kerfuffle outside Elisha’s house as the train of camels comes to a halt in a cloud of dust, shekels of gold and talents of silver clanking under the hot sun. And Elisha doesn’t even greet him, he sends a message for Namaan to wash seven times in the Jordan. Well Namman wrestles with his ego for a while but finally does as he is told and the miracle is wrought…

V 15 he and his attendants stand before Elisha and he declares: “Now I know that there is no God in all the world except in Israel”.

We may feel small, we may feel we are in the wrong place, we may feel that things are not working out for us, but look what God can do when we are motivated by love and we take a step of faith!


As Mark Greene puts it : “What if the bit of God’s earth that we’re in is the bit God wants us to help tend and steward into burgeoning life? Who knows what God might do through us?”

So that’s the old story and an up-to-date story. Lets now look at the map.


Here is a map of Milton Keynes. It’s a natural map, it’s a geographical map, and if we looked at Google earth we could see a topographical map.

But let me show you how God sees it

SLIDE 5 :  MK STATION  Visual 2

This is a super- natural map. This is a Kingdom map. Researchers from the University of Virginia call it a ‘human ecological map’.  The reason they use this fancy phrase is actually quite important. They argue that cities are not collections of autonomous individuals and discrete problem areas hermetically sealed off from one another; nor do cities behave like mechanical systems , like cogs, or in the case of MK, like roundabout in a vast grid system. They talk about thriving cities as being comprised of interlocking endowments…when these work well they result in community health and well-being.

Let me explain these a little and, as I do so, be asking yourself where you are currently or which ones do you naturally gravitate towards.

SLIDE 5: VISUAL 3 OF CIRCLES [please reveal one by one…as below]

The TRUE : this is the realm of human knowledge and learning, so would comprise universities, libraries, public schools, book shops, training centres and the like

The GOOD is the realm of social and moral formation, so covers important work like parenting, religious and volunteering organizations, community and sports centres, social services

The BEAUTIFUL is the realm of aesthetics, anything to do with the built environment, city planning, public arts and festivals, cultural events, restaurants, public spaces

The PROSPEROUS concerns the realm of economic life…businesses, the use of technology, job training, innovation centres and the like

The JUST and WELL-ORDERED is the realm of civic and political life and covers all kinds of civic engagement, law and order, local government, community centres, public transport

The SUSTAINABLE: the realm of the natural environment: how energy and land is managed,  green infrastructure, cycle ways, hospitals and clinics

I like their use of the word helps us see that our home , our city and our work space through God’s eyes …as a gift for us to manage, as resources for us to steward and that as we work together we can see our community thrive

SLIDE  6: ISAIAH 58 v 12 “Your people  will rebuild the ancient ruins, they will raise up the age-old foundations, you will be called Repairer of Broken Walls, Restorer of Streets with Dwelling”

So now we move on to THE ASSIGNMENT

SLIDE 7: MATTHEW 28 v 18-20 please display these verses

Notice what Jesus commands us as his followers in this final instruction…not to bring people to Christ (although that is great), not to plant churches (although that may well follow), but to MAKE DISCIPLES

I want to make three brief comments ..three hallmarks of DISCIPLESHIP

  1. A discipleship relationship implies a close, open, honest and trusting relationship where you share life together. This isn’t an occasional spiritual download or some kind of training course.

When we were at a SSBC, a couple came to ask if they could be married at the Horsefair Green church…

One of the delightful things about baptisms, is that they often point to strong friendships

eg at the last baptism service we held, we saw Colin, Hardus and Phil in the water baptising those they had discipled or fathered…and Martin told us on Tuesday about the pleasure of baptising his son Gareth…and I had that same treat of baptising our eldest daughter


  1. Discipleship is caught not taught…if I think back to those who have been influential in my life, one person I think of is Gene (short for Eugene). I was a young believer and I can still remember meeting up with him and another guy to study scripture …it was Hebrews, and his love of the WORD was infectious. I used to love those times. I studied sociology and Gene cottoned on to this and used to pass on books  about the counterculture in the US


  1. We cannot take people further than we have gone ourselves. So the stimulus of discipling others is that we need to be sure we are walking in the light, we are hungry for scripture, that we are taking steps of faith, that we growing in intimacy with our heavenly Father



The bit of God’s earth where you are now, is where He wants you and where he wants to do some transforming stuff through you.

  • Which of the endowments inspire you…as I went through them, where did your heart race a little, where did you spine tingle. Maybe that’s the Holy Spirit confirming something deep inside you.
  • Are you in a discipleship relationship where you are able to ask troubling questions, share doubts, confess and forgive sins, be accountable to one another , a place where you are drawing closer to God’s heart-beat?