Mark van den Steenhoven

Connecting the dots

When you're part of the missional movement then you've probably heard about UP-IN-OUT. If you're not familiar with this: reading the gospels we can see how Jesus divides his time between three relationships in his life. The upward relationship with God the Father, the inward relationships with fellow christians and the outward relationship with non or not-yet believers. These were actually the loves of his life.

Often we do two of the above relationships quite easily. For example, we pray, worship or do bible study (UP) and participating in a small group (IN). Or we're inviting christian friends for a meal (IN) and regularly doing a social activity such as helping the foodbank (OUT). However the challenge is to have a balance between all three of them. 

I'd like to share two important principles which I've learned by living in community and helped me to life a balanced life.
1. Integration - as long as we approach these relationships as an activity it will feel like doing an activity and it will be a something you need to add in your already busy agenda. The best thing to do is to integrate the UP, IN and OUT in our lives. Then it will become a lifestyle and not an extra activity. 

2. Connecting the dots - What do I mean by that? Well, in stead of approaching UP, IN and OUT as separate parts I've learned to connect them with one another. Let me give you some examples how we approach this in our community:

To start with UP and IN. To connect the UP and IN means for us to pray, listen to God and worship together in stead of on our own. We pray 4 weekdays between 7.30 and 8.00 am before we have breakfast together. On Monday and Tuesday friends of ours join us. And when someone can't join physically he or she can join via Skype. 

Connecting the IN and OUT means for us that we're not on our own in connecting with OUT relationships. When we meet (non-christian) friends we try to build relationships as a community and not as individuals. If I invite someone I can always invite that person to my place because one of our values is "your people (family or friends) are my people (family or friends)". I know that I'm not on my own in building relationships with non-christians. It is a shared responsibility.

Basically connecting the UP and IN and the IN and OUT is all about community.

And then the last one: connecting the UP and OUT. The first way how we do this as a community is by praying for each others friendships and relationships with non-christians. 
The second way is that we try to bring the supernatural into the natural by using prayer and prophecy. It's amazing how open people are for prayer. We've prayed for neighbours, taxi drivers, a plumber, a physiotherapist, our landlord, people visiting our parties and one of the guys on the football pitch. 

Reflection questions:
  • How do you balance your time between your UP, IN and OUT relationships?
  • Are you doing UP and OUT with others in community? What are the areas of growth?

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