Bake the bread; give it away.

You need to bake the bread before you give it away.  Likewise, we need to nurture the church to bless the world.  These are the basic movements of the church gathered and scattered.

So often we forget one of these steps.  For some, the moment of blessing the world is so emphasized, of going to the poor and oppressed, of transforming, of advocating, that they neglect the preparation of the bread.  In the haste to bless the world, some feel the church is expendable, secondary, and often times positively a hinderance to God’s mission in the world.  “Why are you so focused on the church when God loves the world?” they often complain.  But this overemphasis often leads to burnout, self-righteousness, and the lack of a developed maturity in Christ.

For others, the moment of nurturing the church is emphasized, the moment of discipleship, of depth of wisdom and understanding, of community and spiritual formation.  In the excitement of nurturing the church it is mission that becomes secondary, an advance step of discipleship, or something that only those with the gift of evangelism do.  Or it takes the mentality that if we build it ‘they’ will come.  But this perspective often leads to stagnation and also keeps the full maturity of Christ from being manifested in us.

But the life of gathering, of baking, of contemplation leads to the life of scattering, of blessing, of action.  To neglect one is to ruin the other.  To bake bread and not share leads to its wasting and rotting.  But to bless the world with something other than the bread of life within us is not blessing at all.

“May the Holy Spirit fire take the individual kernels of our lives and bake us together into one loaf, that we might be the sweet fragrance of the gospel and a blessing to the world.”