Church, Theology

What the journey looks like

At Grace we have a simple vision:

Creating environments where people encounter Jesus and journey together.

We’ve defined encountering Jesus pretty well. He is Savior, Master and Model. But I’ve struggled with the idea of the journey. What does it look like?

Finally, I might stumbled on the biblical answer. The journey is embodied in two Greek words that Paul uses a lot koinonia and diakonia.

The first is fellowship and “having all things in common.” It is our journey with other believers.

The second is service and it is our journey with those who are not believers. It is our love for our enemies, our compassion for the poor and needy. We journey with them, and take them on our journey just as the Samaritan did in Jesus’ parable about neighbors.

Put another way, the disciples were in koinonia Jesus and one another when Jesus was teaching them. They were in diakonia when he commissione them to do stuff for people outside their group.

Greg Jones, one of our elders added this:

In reading your blog today, I think you may be on to something . . .

It occurred to me, however, that diakonia really has an inward component as well as a service to those outside.

There is a Swedish organization named “Diakonia” that focuses on serving the needs of those on the outside. They follow through pretty well as far as I can see with that mission. They also have a really GREAT slogan: “We believe in Life before Death” (wish I had thought of that one!) , , ,
It points out the need and desirability to meet needs in the here-and-now (though not neglecting the soul).
But diakonia is not simply service to those outside the congregation. Acts 6:1-ff. Nor is it limited simply to mundane tasks such as servicing tables. E.g., the apostles concentrate on the ministry (th diakonia tou logou ) of the word.
2 Cor. 9:1 -“As touching the ministering to the saints…”
Eph. 4:11-12 –“He gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers; for the perfecting of the saints for the work of the ministry [diakonia].”

Understanding that diakonia includes both inward and outward components, I believe our Journey can be well conceived as you say, as koinonia + diakonia.
It further occurs to me that these two aspects are the mark of a living church . . .

The DNA of the living Church: Koinonia + Diakonia

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2 thoughts on “What the journey looks like”

  1. I agree. Jesus spent alot of time doing koinonia with His disciples:

    1. Teaching. Jesus taught and explained His mission and purpose to them repeatedly. Explaining parables about the kingdom, how to pray, emphasizing the importance of the scriptures were things that He taught.
    2. Modeling. He modeled His personal relationship with the Father. Jesus allowed His disciples to see Him struggle with His commitment toward the cross, before they fell asleep! He modeled how to do ministry (having compassion for those who needed it; dealing with the woman at the well for example). They saw Him be courageous when He confronted the religious people and stick with the truth.
    Diakonia:
    1. Exposure to ministry. Jesus exposed them to Christian ministry by sending them out. They learned how to care (John wanted to call down lightning on those who didn’t believe!) By doing ministry, disciples learn how much of it depends on God, draws them closer to the scriptures and prayer).
    2. Exposure to ministry TOGETHER. I can’t say for sure but I will go out on a limb to say that ministry is rarely effectively done alone. We are a body, the scriptures say that we need each other so that the sum total. By being committed to doing ministry outside ourselves, we are more committed to working out our own differences (unity) for the greater good and reach our peak fruitfulness.

    Not said the best, but yes, I agree with you!

  2. I agree with you. When I did my little study on discipleship I came up with some conclusions about it. You offer a nice frame work for me to expand on.

    koinonia:
    Teaching: Jesus spent time teaching the disciples about their relationship with the Father and the Spirit (John 14 – 16), about the ultimate mission as they were almost always with Him and about the importance of prayer and the scriptures.
    Modeling: Jesus modeled a good relationship with His Father; that He was always at peace because He did His will. He also showed them how He dealt with human struggles like submission to His Father’s will at Gethsemane, His grief over the death of Lazarus, His way of interacting with people. He showed them how to do ministry and relate with people while always pointing them to Himself.

    Diakonia:
    What I think is true from the scriptures is that effective ministry is rarely accomplished by one individual. The explosion of church growth was the result of Spirit infected lives that were being orchestrated by the Holy Spirit having an impact on the people outside the church. God has given gifts to each individual for the greater good. I am getting a greater appreciation for the body of Christ and the power of unity and love to impact those who are not yet in the kingdom. People at church need to be exposed to ministry, because when they do, they will by necessity pray more, be more devoted to the scriptures and to one another. And it has to be okay to fail so that people will learn. By being outwardly focused, it keeps us on track mission wise while at the same time being more willing to work together and iron out differences amongst ourselves (because we have a higher calling).

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