Start with a simple task: cleaning the room. Now imagine all the possible ways for that task to be derailed. In our family the patterns are predictable. The boys will end up creating a new Lego structure, Sophia will oversee a dramatic situation between her dollies, and I will decide that now is the crucial time to read the magazine that has been sitting by my chair for three months. Rachael is the only one who stays on task.
Transpose that to the life of Christ’s church. Jesus left us a simple task: make disciples of all nations (Matthew 28:18-20). He left us with a simple, two-pronged command: love God and neighbor (Matthew 22:37-40). Now think of all the ways these priorities can be derailed. In the parable of the sower, Jesus warns of the threats of tribulation, persecution, “the cares of the world and the deceitfulness of riches” (Matthew 13:22). Even the needs of our church infrastructure can shift our focus. Good and right pursuits like getting volunteers, watching the budget, and stewarding the properties can leave us asking, “Now, what were we supposed to be doing?”
Mission and Mercy Month exists because of this tendency to get off task. Each October we recalibrate our focus to Jesus’ commission to make disciples of all nations (Mission) and his call to love our neighbors as ourselves (Mercy). This year we will be doing this in at least three “spaces” in our church life.
1. Training Hour
During October we will watch a series of global missions documentaries called “Dispatches from the Front.” Andrew Buelow has been helping me decide which four are best for us to watch, and he described the stories they tell as “amazing, shocking, uplifting, convicting, and a beautiful testament to the unstoppable power of the gospel, even in the face of the most radical opposition imaginable.”
If you are not already committed during the Sunday Training Hour (9:30 – 10:30 AM in the Fireside Room) you will want to join us.
2. The Foyer
This year we are highlighting two ministries that we believe engage proactively in mission and mercy: Mending the Soul and Choices Pregnancy Centers (formerly Crisis Pregnancy Centers). Rather than simply hearing about these ministries once in October, we will have tables set up in the foyer all month for you to learn more about what they do. Whitton Avenue members who are involved in these ministries will be available to talk before and after each service.
3. The Worship Service
For the first two Sunday in October we will focus on the foundations of mission and mercy in Jesus’ own ministry. Then we will hear from Steve Tracy (Mending the Soul) and Raul Reyes (Choices Pregnancy Centers) about the particular ways we can show kindness and proclaim Christ to hurting people in our communities.
It is one thing to play with Legos while we should be cleaning the room. It is a much greater, more eternally consequential thing to be distracted such that we neglect Jesus’ commission and command. When he returns may he find us fully engage in making disciples and loving our neighbors. Please pray with me that Mission and Mercy Month this year would help keep us on task.