Beyond Me: Living You-First in a Me-First World
By: Kathi Macias
Published by: New Hope Publishers, Birmingham, Al 2008

Ever had mornings you don’t want to get out of bed, days you don’t feel like going to work? What do you do when the issue is obeying God? You love him; you are his child. Yet you still don’t want to obey, to allow yourself to transformed into his image through your obedience.

The heart of Kathi Macias’ new book Beyond Me – Living a You-First Life in a Me-First World balances tenuously on this question. When the honeymoon is over – What Then? Inspired by a cosmetic line marketed as “It Is All About Me,” Kathi digs deeply into her 30 year personal Christian history to grapple with the issue of discipleship.

“Jesus didn’t call us to make converts,” Kathi said during our interview. “We aren’t called to sit and listen to teaching, or (passively) expect to be blessed. He called us to make disciples. . . When you are all wrapped up in yourself, you make a pretty small package.” According to Kathi, making disciples is about modeling a changed life. When we become a Christian, we learn how to live for Christ. The next step is modeling a changed life, living you-first in a me-first world.

As Kathi and I talked for nearly 30 minutes, she returned to a number of themes which are woven throughout the text. As people, we often have layers of emotional issues, learned habits which run counter to a discipled, disciplined Christian lifestyle. Living ‘you-first’ means allowing Christ to remove the layers in order to reveal the person he has called and equipped you to become.

As Americans, we often hold onto an “I can do it, and have to do it myself” kind of attitude. Yet Jesus calls us to participate with him. WE have the choice to allow Him to participate in our lives. When we do, we build his kingdom, not our own.

A third theme is that Christians expect that they are now members of God’s “Bless Me Club.” Too often Kathi has seen that Christians’ thoughts and prayers revolve in a fixed orbit around our own desires. Kathi’s book is an encouragement, and a challenge to take the message of the gospel and make it personal. It’s not about being served, but serving others.

Toward the end of our interview, I asked Kathi what she believed opened the door to this kind of lifestyle. I have often heard these words from a church podium, yet not taken up the charge to change? She responded, “The bottom line to every sin, everything that takes us away from God’s call on our life is a broken relationship with Him.” The external sermon becomes an internal motivation when we understand God’s heart toward us. He takes upon himself the shame of sin, he doesn’t give it. He reaches and forgives rather than standing aloof and demanding of us. For Kathi, as she writes in this book, God so loved that he gave. He calls us to do the same.

I want to thank Kathi for writing this book, and highly recommend it for anyone tired of living an average Christian life. We aren’t called to be average. we are called to be disciples, to live you-first in a me-first world. You can find more about Kathi, and her writing and speaking ministry at http://www.kathimacias.com/

Posted by:

Timothy Burns, Associate Editor Ministry in Motion Blog
Author, Forged in the Fire – Shaped by the Master
http://www.timothyburns.com

Evangelizing the Churched

Evangelizing the Churched
by: Timothy Burns

The challenge for every generation of Christian evangelicals is to communicate the gospel message in a way that is relevant to their culture and community. In a way, we are all missionaries. Our message never changes, but our methods must constantly evolve if we are to connect in a relevant way with our neighbors and cities, friends and communities.

The following is the conclusion of a survey undertaken by the Barna Research group. The entire article is online, and available from the link in the footnote. Here is Barna’s conclusion.

“The data provide a distinct image of each faith group,” Barna commented. “Evangelicals are intensely driven by their faith: their life is substantially influenced by their beliefs and their lifestyle choices and aspirations reflect the centrality of their spirituality. Non-evangelical born again adults consider faith to be important but it is not the defining aspect of their existence; it is influential but not the determining factor. Notional Christians treat faith as just one of many dimensions of their life that serves a purpose, but it is not a driving force at all. Skeptics have replaced faith with a passion for healthy longevity and personal pleasure gained through world travel, sexual experiences, and obtaining knowledge. They are substantially less focused on relationships and legacy than are other groups. They tend to be less concerned about finding or pursuing a purpose in life because a majority of them believe life has no purpose beyond comfort and pleasure.” (1)

How long has it been since you objectively evaluated the composition of your mission field. Who is in your community? Who comes through the doors of your church? Who doesn’t?

Barna continues:

“It is intriguing to study the ebb and flow of spirituality in a person’s life,” he noted. “Those who fall into the evangelical stream have determined that life is all about the pursuit of God and the development of a life-altering faith. Atheists and agnostics, who slightly outnumber evangelicals, have arrived at exactly the opposite conclusion. And then there are the 80% or so who are at every other conceivable point along the continuum in between those two extremes. (2)

Barna adds that further research shows the evangelical church losing influence in the world. Instead, teens are on their way to constructing their own moral codes, as are many other societal segments. In the absence of relevant, influential moral and spiritual leadership from the Church who carries this responsibility, “Everyone did what was right in their own eyes.” (Judges 17.6)

Reading deeply into the conclusion above, Barna’s research highlights the solution for those willing to respond. Eighty percent of our population falls on a continuous line stretching between atheist and evangelical, and most have been exposed to a Christian influence, evidenced by their use of that exposure to create their own spiritual manifesto. Evangelicals’ task, it would seem, is not preaching the message anew, but communicating the message in a relevant way that encourages and equips the nominally committed to take steps along that continuum toward the “development of a life-altering faith.”

What does that look like? What would it look like in your church?



(1) Taken from: “Survey Reveals the Life Christians Desire” www.barna.org, July 21, 2008, Retrieved Sept 13, 2008

(2) Ibid, as quoted from Revolution; Barna, George; Tyndale House Publ; 2006


Without Rules


Published author Tim Burns shares his take on the modernday Christian Coffeehouse…

In the 1960’s, coffeehouses didn’t sell pricey designer latte’s and iced cappuccinos. The 60’s altered the country’s culture, and significant population segment wanted a place to hang out, unbound from cultural norms. The coffeehouse was born without rules, a counter-culture haven. They were called ‘Hippies,’ and wanted to be ‘cool,’ ‘far out’ and ‘hang loose.’ A new generation wanted a place to call their own. The Coffeehouse was born.

Following the turbulent 60’s, a sovereign movement of God birthed the Jesus people, street Christians. They, or should I say we, also wanted a place to kick back, without the uptight rules of traditional churches and their people who didn’t “understand where we were coming from.” Christian coffeehouses were an intersection of these two new generational forces, counter culture and born again Christianity. Coffeehouses were a place where we felt accepted, welcomed, even loved. The coffeehouse was also a place to evangelize – preach the gospel in the street’s language. The new generation wanted to hear the gospel, and it had to be in their language.

Letters to Street Christians (Zondervan Publishing House, 1971) sits on my bookshelf; one of my last artifacts of this era. The tattered pages retell a 60’s street slang version of Paul’s epistles, – reminders that Christ and the gospel are meant to be communicated to the people in their language, not expounded from elevated podiums surrounded by stain glass.

What does this have to do with today’s coffeehouse?

Our culture is again segmented, fractured. Multicultural ideologues have separated us, and again we face significant communi-chasms. Neighbors don’t know how to talk to each other when we share little in common.

The coffeehouse is again a place to invite churched and non-churched alike. Seekers, pre-believers, suspicious, churched and backslider can come with their questions. The coffeehouse meets the unchurched person’s need as a place to interact, where their genuine questions can be met with love, understanding and biblical answers. A coffeehouse MUST BE a place for everyone, steeped in an ethos where seekers can express unpolished thoughts, or emotional hurts and still be accepted for who they are. Like the woman who washed Jesus feet with her tears – acceptance will open the doors to their hearts, enabling steps toward a new life.

To be effective, a coffeehouse ministry should be organized by believers who have a desire to communicate the gospel with unchurched and pre-believers who may have deep questions. Christ followers who staff a Christian coffeehouse need to be equipped with an Ephesians 4.11-15 ministry mindset. Each Christian has something to contribute – an ability to minister out of what God has given them.

From God’s point of view, the coffeehouse exists as a bridge between the Christ follower and the seeker. Traditional church rules don’t fit here. If a coffeehouse forgets this purpose, or tries to become church-like, it will sidestep God’s purpose, and slide toward spiritual irrelevance.

If a coffeehouse is to prosper, those leading it must be willing to take a dangerous step outside of Christian-ese and convention. The first coffeehouses existed without cultural rules in order to attract those outside social norms. No Rules, except maybe this one:

I pray that you be active in sharing your faith, so that you may come to know all the good things Christ has for you.
(Philemon 6 NIV)

Teena Stewart, Editor DreamBuilders Ministry in Motion Blog

Author, Successful Small Groups from Concept to Practice

http://www.ministryinmotion.net/teena_stewart.html