This past Sunday, I shared my thoughts about what our congregation needs to do to meet its obligations before God, in the spirit of Acts 1:8. I didn’t realize it at the time, but this came at precisely the one-year mark of my “official” ministry at SKRBC.
In trendy terms, this is “my vision” for what the congregation ought to be doing. This is the road map I believe the church needs to take in order to be obedient to the Lord in this particular geographical place, in this particular cultural context, at this particular time. I’ll summarize my thoughts, and provide an exciting update on one or two of the goals I mentioned in my sermon this past Sunday.
It begins with Jesus’ comments to the disciples, especially James and John, in light of their stupid question from Mark 10:37:
What on earth does this mean? It means this:
Jesus’ point is that He didn’t come here to be served by us. Instead, He came here to serve people who didn’t “deserve” His love. He came to serve to the point that He gave His life as a ransom for many. He is the model – service to others for the sake of the Gospel.
Christians have always had hearts for mercy ministries; for helping the poor, the disadvantaged, the hungry. But, true mercy ministries don’t stop there. These ministries are really relational vehicles for the Good News. True Christianity serves others, but doesn’t just stop with being nice – service is a bridge for the Gospel.
So, how does this work?
That’s how you do it – you meet other people’s needs and consider yourself duty-bound to folks both inside and outside the congregation.
What does this look like? More specifically, what does this look like at SKRBC?
What else could we do? What else can you think of? We’ll be making an announcement about the fellowship dinners this coming Sunday – and guess what? I didn’t think of them! A member of the congregation did. What ideas do you have to help foster a sense of family and community within the congregation? Whose needs can you begin to meet?
What about people outside the congregation? How do we reach people with the Gospel? Will faithful preaching and an annual Vacation Bible School do the trick? Is that what Peter did, in the early chapters of Acts? What should SKRBC be doing?
This question has preoccupied me for the past year. The Lord, in His providence, has used a confluence of pleasant and unpleasant events to steer me toward the conclusion that, in our cultural climate, SKRBC needs to have a proactive, aggressive, outward focus. But, that focus should take the shape of mercy ministries, with a Gospel edge.
In other words, I believe we should show and demonstrate the love of Christ to people in need in our community, and pray that God would use our new relationships with these Gospel outsiders in order to make them Gospel insiders.
Right now, this is what SKRBC’s community focus looks like:
This isn’t very good. And, truth be told, both of these ministries could use some significant shoring up.
This is what I want us to be doing in the future:
This may seem like a pie-in-the-sky dream; something unattainable by a small church. I disagree. Here’s why:
- Foster parent support. I met with the outreach coordinator for Olive Crest (a Christian foster care agency) this week. It was wonderful. I think we have the resources and people to host a foster parent support group at our church, beginning in September. This costs little but time from some volunteers. I’ll be talking about this more, in the coming weeks. Finding foster parents won’t be a problem; Olive Crest has a bunch that need love and support.
- “Sharing the story” events. These will begin in June. If you attend SKRBC, this is your opportunity to invite friends, family, co-workers, neighbors (etc.) to hear what the Christian faith and message is all about. All you need to do is volunteer to host the event in your home, invite people, and SKRBC will bring the dessert. I’ll be there to do the rest. Here is a sample of what the invitations will look like.
- Missions trip. This could be international or domestic. Realistically, it may be domestic. We could take a group of teens and adults and help a church plant in Eastern Washington, Idaho, or even into Montana or rural Oregon. The details are fuzzy right now, but we’re doing some kind of missions trip in Summer 2020. Count on it.
I say all that to say this – things are happening. These are the kinds of things SKRBC needs to be doing to fulfill our Gospel mandate as a congregation. This what our church needs to be about – love and service as a vehicle for the Gospel.