The Shape of Faith

UpReach, InReach, OutReach. Each describes a critical element of faith. They have been the guide for many – providing the basic goals for a church or the foundation of an individual Christian life. There are so many ways to describe them. All three are worthy of our time, reflection and practice. And much has been written about each dimension of faith.

But we make a serious mistake if we see them as separate concepts. They are made for each other.  They work best together.  And their deepest meanings are distorted and shallow when we isolate them from each other.

Together, they form a picture of balance.  One is the fuel. The other two are the faith engines it powers, as it moves through our world, changing lives and making a difference.

UpReach is my relationship with God.

He is my Creator, my Father, my Origin, my Motivation and my Fuel. He is the Beginning of my life and the very reason that I live. Life cannot proceed without UpReach. But, life must proceed with UpReach. It must express itself in the next two relationships, or it is not real.

InReach is my relationship with other believers.

Like me, they are moving across the landscape of this world. Sometimes we call InReach “fellowship” or “church” or “body life.” It is the brotherhood of the Christian community, reaching into each other’s lives to share the heart of our Father. Why? Because no single human life is able to perceive all that UpReach offers. We are not designed to be alone in our faith. This is why InReach is an essential place of nurturing, sharing and teaching, as God utilizes a variety of lives … women and men, old and young, single and married. One will see what his sister has overlooked.  Another will clarify what her brother has misunderstood. And together our faith that began in UpReach, will deepen and mature through the “one-another-ness” of InReach, as God prepares us for OutReach.

OutReach is my only other human relationship.

It describes where we all began – outside. God found us there and brought us inside the door of faith. But now that we are inside, OutReach describes the mission we share with the Father. Now, He reaches out, through us, to rescue others who are outside of faith.

UpReachInReachOutReach. Together they are the shape of faith.

What I’m Reading

Partings, Hershel Shanks, Editor (2014)
Listening To God, John Ackerman (2001)
The Forgotten Commandment, Dennis Rainey (2014)
A Book of Uncommon Prayer, Kenneth G. Phifer (1981)
Jesus Within Judaism, James H. Charlesworth (1988)
Spiritual Disciplines Handbook, Adele Ahlberg Calhoun (2005)
Ordering Your Private World, Gordon MacDonald (1984) – again!
Simplicity, Richard Rohr (1991)
Wasting Time With God, Klaus Issler (2001)
Sabbath, Wayne Muller (2000)
Sacred Rhythms, Ruth Haley Barton (2006)
Hearing God, Dallas Willard (2012)
Rhythms of the Inner Life, Howard R. Macy (2015)
Listening For God, Renita J. Weems (2000)
Crafting a Rule of Life, Stephen A. Macchia (2012)
An Unhurried Life, Alan Fadling (2013)
The Complete Book of Discipleship, Bill Hull (2006)
Healing Grace, David A Seamands (1988)
Fasting, Scot McKnight (2010)
The Seven Deadly Sins of Small Group Ministry, Bill Donahue and Russ Robinson (2009)
Practicing the Presence of People, Mike Mason (2011)
Renovation of the Church, Kent Carlson and Mike Lueken (2013)