The work was done. All the groundwork had been laid, the only thing left to do was enjoy what was coming. I had been investing in a group of students on mission for a handful of weeks on campus and that investment was about to culminate into a gathering together. Weeks of work went into this one night. We were going to meet at a local coffee shop around this massive table that seats 12-15 people where we would talk, drink coffee, eat some dessert. I was excited at the prospect of a space being opened up for the gospel to flourish among this new group. 7:00 p.m. rolled around, 7:15…7:30…7:45…8:00.
Absolutely no one came.
I was devastated. So, what do you do when you fail (or feel like you failed) at the primary calling and objective Christ gave us as his followers to do: make disciples. One thing is certain when it comes to making disciples, it’s hard. The effort will be marked with failure. And not just failure in that aspect, but also in our own lives. We’re inconsistent broken people who need Jesus daily.
The truth is that in my heart, I think I see myself as that guy sitting at the table alone. When it comes to our failure, is there a better picture of how we feel than sitting at a massive table meant for all your friends and you’re by yourself? Life does this to us. Sin does this to us. Failure does this to us. This begs the question: Is that lonely seat at the table the final word on who we are? Is that lonely seat at the table the final word on our ability to make disciples?
I wasn’t at the table alone, and I never had to see myself that way again.
This is precisely the point of where our mission to one another can shine brightest. As I sat there alone I felt a lot of things, things that I didn’t quite know how to process. The next day I found myself at another coffee table. Sitting across from me was my discipler, Jake. I told him how I felt, what I was feeling and thinking. Jake was on mission to me in that moment. His care, intentionality, and proclamation of identity brought a new perspective to my situation. I wasn’t at the table alone, and I never had to see myself that way again.
In Christ, we get a mission, but we also get one another. We get to serve one another and listen to one another. We get to be for one another in new ways that we previously had not experienced. Making disciples opens up space in our lives for failure, we can all attest to that, but it also opens up space in our lives to care for one another in profound ways. As we move deeper into the journey of missional community, we cannot lose sight of our mission to our community.