Justin Hiebert

Catalyzing Change

Mutual Submission (part 2) – Reaching the Neighborhood

Posted on 30 Dec 2013 in Church, Discipleship, missional theology | 1 comment

We’re continuing our look at the problems and opportunities that churches face, and what lies ahead in 2014. Today’s topic on the idea of mutual submission looks at how churches do outreach and evangelism.

Our guiding Scriptures: Philippians 2 and Mark 12:30-31

When we talk about mutual submission and how it relates to outreach and evangelism in the church, it really has two key directions: local unity and community presence.

English: MIYAKOJIMA, Japan (Dec. 12, 2010) Mus...

(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Local Unity is a committed group of Jesus followers pursuing the same goal with clarity, purpose, direction, and intentionality.

  • Clarity – The reality is that it is extraordinarily easy to say ‘yes’ to things in the life of the church. Everybody has passion, desire, and gifts that they want to use to advance the Kingdom of God, and they must learn the hard work in saying ‘no’ to things. There are many more good causes, organizations, and groups to support, volunteer for, or donate to than there are people or money in the church. Spend your time well early on learning to gain clarity on where the passion, support, and energy of your group lies. Saying no gets easier if everyone is on the same page and what you have said yes to is agreed upon by everyone.
  • Purpose – Be able to answer the question: Where do we have a unique conviction and desire? Your group (church or missional community) has gifts, passion, and unique representation in the Kingdom of God like no other group. What makes you unique in calling, desire, and action? How can your group create a clear purpose and passion in Kingdom work?
  • Direction – Define early on what your vision and goal will be. Where is your group headed? How will ‘success’ be defined? Don’t define primarily in terms of members, financial gain, or membership increase, define your direction in terms of relationships built, faithfulness to God, and disciples made.
  • Intentionality – Make the above three steps more than integrated into the life of your community, make them the identity of your community. Especially when working within a larger church structure, you will undoubtedly have groups that form around different missions. One will work with the elderly, while another helps a local school, and a third serves the poor and at-risk in your neighborhood. As they define those goals, don’t make it optional to change the mission instilled in the group. Once you’ve done the hard work of saying ‘no’ to the distracting agendas, stick to that mission. Make being a part of that mission an intentional and focused time of the life of your family and group. Commit to it wholeheartedly and with enthusiasm.

Why do these four points matter? Maybe most easily because people don’t want to say ‘no’ to good ideas. They avoid the hard work of clarifying mission and values and the waters of faithful living become muddied by feet scurrying everywhere to ‘do good things’. The more that clarity eludes the church about where it is headed, the easier it is to miss doing the uniquely great things that God has called your community to, and simply settle for doing anything and branding it as a good endeavor.

Secondly, these steps of clarification matter because as a group grows, so do the unique perspectives and backgrounds of the people that join. Humility in missional circles means always listening to the voices of those present to discern where God is leading the group, but it also means direction and movement forward in missional faithfulness. It’s why one one key component to the health of any church is reproduction. As new members entire the life and rhythm of mission, new groups will form with different goals and direction. Mutual submission is hearing these voices and responding faithfully. Within the life of the group should be the attitude of Christ Jesus (Philippians 2).

Community Presence The second area of mutual submission is from the group to the community. Continuing to consider others better than ourselves, missional communities and groups approach not with the attitude of superiority, but one of service. People must enter service with the mindset and belief that God is already at work, and they are just finding ways to join in. Groups don’t ‘take God’ anywhere, they go places to join with the renewal and restoration work that God is already doing.

In any community that it serves, the church on mission must also go with an attitude that they must receive as well as give. God is already at work in every community, people on mission, to be mutually submissive, must be open to receiving gifts and acts of grace from those they intend to serve.


In any community that it serves, the church on mission must also go with an attitude that they must receive as well as give. God is already at work in every community, people on mission, to be mutually submissive, must be open to receiving gifts and acts of grace from those that they intend to serve.


Outreach and evangelism within the life of the church is always important, but more important than that, is the level to which safe and trusting relationships are built within the group and the community. Wherever the church goes, and however the church implements missional faithfulness, the top priority is always to love God and love others. Developing unity and clarity within the church community and a humble and accepting spirit towards the local community is rooted in the action of love and the spirit of grace in Jesus.


Other parts in the series:

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Justin Hiebert

Leadership Catalyst - Entrepreneur - Coach at JSHiebert Leadership Coaching
I am a Business and Life Coach in both non-profit and for profit settings. I coach leaders, executives, and pastors in areas of vision, clarity, and values. In relationship coaching I focus on healthy and sustainable relationships, and in leadership development roles I catalyze change for individuals and groups to thrive. I also consult churches and organizations on how to train new leaders and create a healthy culture. In addition to that, I am an Anabaptist pastor in the Denver metro area. I specialize on topics that include: missional theology, discipleship, culture and the church in today’s society. I am married to my wonderful wife Elise and we have three kids. I grew up and now work in the United States Mennonite Brethren Church (USMB) and love the people and history of the Mennonite Brethren faith. I am a graduate of Tabor College with a dual degree in Youth Ministry and Christian Leadership, a graduate of Fresno Pacific Biblical Seminary with a Masters of Divinity, and a Doctoral Student and Bethel Seminary. I also teach college classes in areas of Bible, Communication, and Business.

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