The Joys (and not so much) Of Underwater Photography

Any new and brilliant idea is met with resistance.  Innovators make up a piddly 2.5% of the population, while strong resistors make up about 50%.  Such was my burden in attempting a new and different kind of family photograph to grace our Christmas card this year.  I like to capture our annual photo during study break.  This year I wanted an underwater portrait.  When’s the last time you’ve seen one of those come through your holiday mail?   An underwater photo would definitely stand out among all those other boring cards and faces that stare at you in December.   Tell that to some some ornery members of my family.

I had some convincing to do,  and so I created the obvious problem.  We haven’t sent out a family Christmas card in two years, and so this year’s has really got to be good!  I had minimal buy in.  I cast vision for being trail blazers in visual rendering of familial sub cultures.  Nothin’ doing.  I convinced a few early adopters to join my cause.  Statistically they make up 13.5% of our population.  Practically, that’s not quite one whole Scott.

Take a look at the picture posted.  Who do you think embraced this wonderful idea immediately? Who is absolutely having a blast?  Who went through the ordeal just to get it over with?  Which one do think had to die to themselves so that I could fully live my dream?  Who is struggling but hanging in there, and who is still upset with my attempt at creative leadership… and I have to take her out for breakfast tomorrow morning just so I can make it all up to her?  Hmmm.

This morning I got stuck on James 1:1.  James, the brother of Jesus, has turned from sibling skeptic to Kingdom servant.  The Apostle Paul said he was a servant, and set apart for the gospel (Romans 1:1).  James, a part of the gathered Jerusalem church, also served the scattered church with practical application of the good news of Jesus.  He was, however, a late adopter to all of this.  James would have hated having his picture taken underwater.

I started reading my third study break book,  “On The Verge” by Alan Hirsch & Dave Ferguson.  The authors write, “… one of it’s (20th century church) sad legacies was the growing schism between missiology and ecclesiology.  This has led to a missionless church and a churchless mission.”

At Cumberland, we’ve taken the past several years to shift our paradigm and coded thinking from only attractional (they come to us) to more missional (let’s go to them).  We’ve done a great job at becoming a church for our community and not just in our community.  We’re serving great at a macro, larger level.  Four to five times a year we close down Sunday morning shop, and serve with our highly motivated army.   This has been such a great and healthy thing for CCC.

Now, and this is very confirmed by “On The Verge,” God’s next push and challenge for His Bride at Cumberland is to own things on a micro, smaller level.  As much as CCC has placed her roots in the community of Smyrna, individuals must do the same with the gospel of Jesus in a regular, “as we go,” integrated way.  The challenge for community groups will be to become missional communities that live out the gospel through serving the needs in a hands-on way, independent of what Cumberland does corporately.  This is where our gathering and scattering will unite and grow us even further.

Key to this imaginative thinking is becoming gathered and scattered servants of the gospel.  Hirsch & Ferguson strongly suggest, “Everyone in a movement, and not just the so-called religious professionals, must be activated and thus play a vital role in extending Jesus’ mission on earth.”  With more disciples making disciples and becoming Christ-centered, scattered servants, we will synergistically move CCC from attractional, to missional, to movemental.  I prefer movement over institution any day of the week.  The organism of the Church demands it.

I can see it, but maybe I need to convince more that the current problem with church is there’s just got to be more to church.  I know there’s still more change coming.  I liken it to underwater fun.  There’s such opportunity for innovation and Jesus’ church to return to a place of great influence in our culture and desperate communities.   However, I know few will adopt such excited thinking early.  Many will endure, but all will have to die to themselves, again.  It’s in the dying that we’ll find even greater life, growth, purpose, and mission at a place many of us call Cumberland.

In my ipod this morning was “I Will Die For You” by Mercy Me.  It rang true with where God has my heart…

And I know that I can find You here
‘Cause You promised me You’ll always be there
Times like these, it’s hard to see
But somehow I have a peace, You’re near
And I pray that You will use my life
In whatever way Your name is glorified
Even if surrendering
Means leaving everything behind

My life has never been this clear
Now I know the reason why I’m here
You never know why You’re alive
Until you know what you would die for
I would die for You

And I know I don’t have much to give
But I promise You I will give You all there is
Can I possibly do less
When through Your own death I live?

No greater love is found
Than of those who lay their own lives down
As sure as I live and breathe
Now I know what it means to be free



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