Keep It Simple

As we continue to consider “What characterizes our movement?” from The Navigators Vision, we come to another characteristic: “Ordinary people, in many walks of life, are joyfully leading integrated lives.”
God continues to speak to me about the need to keep life and ministry simple. “I deliberately kept it plain and simple: first Jesus and who he is; then Jesus and what he did—Jesus crucified” (1 Corinthians 2:2, MSG). Simplicity keeps the gospel moving into my life and into the lives of the people God touches through me.
Simplicity of life, message, and method is the key to a movement of God because average, normal people can participate fully in it. I want simple goals: love God, love people; a simple message: Jesus. I want simple forms and simple methods. I must evaluate what I do, what I say, and how I pass things on to ensure that they stay simple.
In light of this, there are few sentences in our vision that I appreciate more than this one: “Ordinary people, in many walks of life, are joyfully leading integrated lives.” It paints a picture of regular people from a variety of backgrounds simply committing to live lives characterized by joy and faithful presence. It is countercultural because it is completely out of step with the spirit of our time, and yet speaks to a deep hunger for wholeness that all humans share.
We live in an age that honors the busyness that produces fragmentation and isolation. But our vision lifts up the ordinary person and the integrated life. Living an integrated life means making decisions that bring the many aspects of our lives into unity rather than compartmentalizing them. The more we focus on the relationships that are already around us and the neighborhoods in which God has planted us, the simpler this becomes.
In Nav Neighbors we are learning to see the neighborhood as an integrating factor that can offer something quite different to the people around us who struggle with the negative effects of fragmentation. In his book, Sacred Roots: Why the Church Still Matters, Jon Tyson asks these questions:
What would the Church look like if we chose to buy homes in the same streets and subdivisions, the same buildings and blocks, the same suburbs and sections?

  • What would our love look like if it showed up dozens of times a week in small but profound ways: meals cooked, prayers prayed, songs sung, Scripture studied, games played, parties thrown, tears shed, reconciliation practiced, resources given?
  • What if we stopped attending community groups and became groups of communities? What if our homes stopped being the places we hid from the world but havens to which the world comes for healing?
To those questions, I would add one. What if our discipleship was designed to help ordinary people lead integrated lives?
For Your Consideration:
  • The vision talks about “joyfully leading integrated lives.” What do you think is the relationship between joy and an integrated life?
  • Think about the many aspects of your life: work, school, church, family, exercise, neighborhood, and so forth. On a scale of one to 10, where 10 is the most unified and one is the most compartmentalized, what score would you give your life? What is one way you could move closer to a 10?
  • How might you encourage and help the people you are discipling to lead integrated lives?

Al Engler is the director of Nav Neighbors. To contact him or to learn more about his ministry, click here.

Editor's Note: This is one in a series of articles unpacking the Navigator vision. The series begins with Unpacking Our Vision: An Introduction.