On Sunday we plan to address the famine in Somalia. The following Sunday Dan Julian will preach and share the plans Anna and he have for gospel work in Spain. Then following week we will discuss Missional Communities. Then Mending the Soul Ministries.
Why this focus? Why the break from preaching through books of the Bible? The short answer is, “Because it is October, which is Mission and Mercy Month.” As usual, there is a longer answer. Here it is.
For the last four weeks we have concentrated on being “fully engaged” in God’s mission to glorify God. In particular, we have looked at our church mission statement–“We exist to glorify God through reaching up in worship of God, reaching in to equip the saints, and reaching out with the gospel of Jesus Christ”–and explored how the up, in, and out are interconnected pursuits. In short, we saw from God’s word that our personal communion with God enhances our depth of community with one another, which in turn creates a more beautiful display of the gospel. This gives a powerful witness to the message about Christ that we proclaim to unbelievers, so they not only hear about grace, sacrifice, and reconciliation in Christ, but they see those gospel realities worked out in our relationships.
As invigorating as this integrated vision can be, many of us still feel at a loss for how to live it out. With which people should we pursue deeper community? What spiritually needy neighbors should we target with gospel love? How exactly does long, sometimes fruitless ministry glorify God? Is God calling me to be fully engaged in this life here or somewhere else?
Hopefully you can appreciate the tension we feel as elders in helping you address these questions. On the one hand, we do not want to keep our vision so vague that you remain frustrated in how to live it out. On the other hand, we do not want to prescribe some cookie-cutter Christianity into which all our members must fit.
So what is the answer? Focus on examples of what it might look like. Each year we choose local and international examples of how to fulfill Jesus’ mission to make disciples and how to show the mercy that ought to accompany our gospel ministry. The aim over the next four weeks is to provide templates for being fully engaged in God’s mission. For all we know, the focus on the famine in Somalia could result in a brother doing relief work in Pakistan, and the emphasis on gospel-centered healing from abuse could catalyze a sister’s work with the homeless. The point is not the place or particular work but an inspiring model of life fully engaged on God’s mission.
It is worth noting that we will not be simply talking about Somalia or Missional Communities. We will remain under God’s word, hearing the gospel truths we rest in and the mandates to spread this good news. Furthermore, the banner over these months is “Fully Engaged, Fully Dependent.” Our focus is not just talk about being fully engaged but expressing our full dependence on God through times of corporate prayer on Wednesday October 12th and Wednesday October 19th (6:30 – 7:30). Please plan to join us during these times of communion with God and pleading for direction and empowerment.
As we enter into Mission and Mercy Month, may God grant us a burning passion to experience the fullness of his love for us in Christ and to expend our lives so that we push that love into the lives of fellow believers and unbelieving neighbors.
With you in Christ and on the mission,