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Why the Church Must Heed the Call of Rogue One

 

“State your name for the record.”

“Jyn Erso.”

“Forgery of imperial documents. Possession of stolen property. Aggravated assault. Resisting arrest. On your own from the age of 15. Reckless. Aggressive. And undisciplined.”

Jyn: “This is a rebellion, isn’t it? . . . I rebel.”

When I first saw the Rogue One movie trailer enumerating the star’s unsavory recruitment qualifications, I imagined a few out-bound Christians defending before their programmatic pastors saying: “This is a movement, isn’t it? . . . I move.”

If you think Rogue One is something that exists only in the minds of Star Wars’ back-room collaborators, think again. At a pivotal juncture in human history, a time when hope dimmed low in the larger world, God searched the Earth for his Rogue One. He needed someone of a peculiar pedigree to lead an insurgency within an evil occupying empire: Rome. Just like this pop culture flick, he finds the answer in a person with a checkered past. A shocking choice to insiders (Acts 9:26–27), Jesus goes outside-the-box of his Twelve, selecting a man of scandalous background, with fresh Christian blood dripping from his hands. Despite having the death squad disqualifier on his record, he possesses a useful mix of capacity: the combination of Jewish scholarship, Roman citizenship, a dark redemption story, and relentless Godward zeal. And let’s just add one more element: pain. Not haphazard by any means, Jesus recruits just the right instrument—to spearhead his new enterprise—to be Rogue One.

Fast-forwarding up to today, a familiar and formidable nemesis raises its ugly head. Unbeknownst to the casual churchgoer, we have actually entered a pivoting moment of church history . . .

• when an irreligious shift of European dimensions is afoot in America (20% identifying themselves as “nones”—with no religious affiliation; ARIS and Barna Research),

• when Islam (1-in-5 globally) is predicted to surpass Christianity by the year 2050, (Pew Research credits this to higher birth rates),

• and only 1-in-5 millennials raised in a faith belong to a fellowship now (Pew).

All three 1-in-5 groupings defy attractional church strategy—in that they are not pre-conditioned “joiners.” Thus, if we maintain the standard—church plus small group attendance during the week, but not engage the lost around us in a significantly bigger way, we are in jeopardy of losing extenuating influence. Can you see it? We now have an insurgency situation on our hands. We can no longer afford to have large percentages of members inside comfortable enclaves (groups), and without effectual mission training from the church—and fulfill Christ’s will for his gospel. Not surprised by these trends, God is again gazing down from heaven—looking for someone to tap—to take on a courageous task.

Compounding outside complexity is the inside view of pastors—who don’t always know how to get their consumeristic members moving in missional directions. In other words, when they peer into the eyes of their faithful followers, they don’t have many Jyn Ersos to deal with. Whose fault is that? From my vantage point, not to place blame too flippantly, let’s just call it a system failure. Something is failing from top to bottom. Recent decades have elevated “attractional” Christianity (we’ll reach you if you come to us) atop of the renewal system of the past. But now that we have reached a critical culture shift, we must ask harder questions: What is our “attraction-renewal” hybrid producing? Is it raising the kind of disciple that can reach people in a more distant post-Christian world? Is it producing disciples who are fully armed as culture-penetrating gospel agents of transformation? From the facts and the faces I am looking into, I think not.

It is this assessment that summons the cry: “Jyn Erso, where are you?” You are desperately needed! Heaven’s call beckons. Knowing my readership’s qualities, many of you are now introspecting: What will this Jyn-Job require? What will it mean for me to strap on the gear, pick up some weaponry, and be God’s Rogue One? Here is a short requirement list. Do you have some sin and darkness in your story—and maybe a little bit of pain to draw from—if so, you are just who we are looking for! You are well positioned to relate with people in darker environs. Remember how Paul’s life pictured God’s bottomless grace to a brutal Roman culture, heralding himself: “The worst of sinners” (1 Tim 1:15). If you’ve got some darkness (past or present), have the courage to use it! Be humble. Connect along common life issues. But you will also need the heart and willingness to develop the mission savviness necessary for the outward arena. Much learning will happen in the field, not the pew. And you are going to need a Bible, strapped close to your body at all times. If you decide to move with us as R1—we have a free training pdf resource for you (more below). Get the right equipment or lose the fight!

Given what is breaking, a new breed of Christian must rise from the ranks. And we need this to happen in every region. Yes, your church. Yes, you! God is looking in every country, state or province, and in every church or mission group, and is asking the same question: Who will be my Rogue One? Can you imagine Paul remaining in Jerusalem, or at Antioch? No way. The Rogue One call is to take the gospel to where it is most critically needed. To reach people on the outer edges. Someone must lead. Someone must champion what can only happen—out there. Go build outside-the-faith relationships, everywhere, my friends. Of course, you have to focus to be effective. As for me, I am frequenting our local mosque meeting weekly with the leading Imam, my special friend! But there are many places for infiltration—open your eyes to where people gather—just make sure once you get there you stay at your post, meeting regularly with unsaved friends.

As you have figured by now, we are recruiting. The Church needs people across every nation to go rogue. To rise up and bust out within existing confines—to not let today’s market-brand Christianity extinguish the culture penetrating movement that Jesus once ignited! Be encouraged that many pastoral leads are hungering to get back to Christ’s greater vision. They see dismal signs. Few equipped. Fewer engaging. Too few of the unsaved being reached by the service. In reply (revolt?), we see people rising all over the place. I Skyped with a pastor in London the other day. He is going rogue. So, too, a pastor in Kenya owned that they had become stuck in their one-dimensional thinking on how to reach others with the gospel. He and his group repented, and are now going rogue. I know leaders in Chicago, New Jersey and Philadelphia: all going rogue in their communities. Another Rogue One leader in Texas, recently launched a missional group with the qualification: “The one thing we are not going to do is meet to rehash the pastor’s sermon. We will gather to be about the business of impacting this world for Christ.” She and her husband are going rogue. So is my friend Mellissia in the mid-west, who picked up my first book, Soul Whisperer, to get better equipped. She is Jyn Erso sharp! Another elderly woman, Eileen, invited me to talk with leaders/members at her church, expressed: “We are told from upfront that we should take the gospel to the world, but they never tell us how—but you offer skills.” It’s not too late, she is going rogue, at 70!

Perhaps, you too sense the hunger. Strap on your fighter’s gear! Do not let anything stop you. Your example is what others desperately need to see. Step into the Rogue One boots. Like Jyn, like Paul, you must also gather forces. Who is going to join you? Don’t settle for a sermon. Don’t let the good sidetrack you from the great call. Jesus sits at the right hand of the Father, all authority is vested in his words to “Go,” and he promises, “I will be with you till the end of the age.” The time for taking the fight outward is now. So on behalf of apostles, prophets, pastors, and on behalf of all those outside who will be reached as a result, I invite you to lead in your God-given sector. Are you Rogue One? Listen to the Spirit. Rise!

*If you would like to receive a free pdf equipping resource from Soul Whisperer Ministries, please FaceBook message us with your email address or email directly to gary@soulwhispererministry.com. When you retrieve it from your inbox, know that we are with you all the way!