Holistic Outreach

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by Cal Kierum

Following Christ’s model of loving God and people we will equip and mobilize all who come to Elim to share the Gospel in word and deed as we go and serve South Hill and beyond.

John Piper has said that “missions exist because worship doesn’t”.   We were created for relationship with God that glorifies God through worship.    But man has turned away from God.   Many do not know Him and cannot worship Him.    What Piper calls “missions” is temporary and is only needed until all have had the opportunity to hear the Gospel and become worshippers of God.   Worship is eternal.

This week we are considering the 5th and final strategic objective; Holistic Outreach.   As the Strategic Planning Team prayed about God’s vision for Elim, we became convinced that Holistic Outreach was an important area of focus.    Holistic Outreach means moving outside the walls of Elim (and moving outside the “walls” within our own lives that isolate us from those who are lost or in need) with the whole Gospel.    It includes what has in the past been called “missions”, “evangelism”, and “ministries of compassion”.    It is holistic in that we seek to see God’s Kingdom expanded both locally and globally.   Some have called this a “glocal” focus.  We are focused both overseas missions and local outreach.    We seek God’s leading in how we engage and participate in Holistic Outreach locally and globally.  It is holistic in that we seek to bring the Gospel both in word and in deed.   This is the way that Jesus did it and we believe that we are to follow His model. It is holistic in that it involves the whole church.   It is holistic in that outreach is not just the responsibility of a few but is for all believers as a consequence of the gift God has given us in Jesus Christ.  While there has been a lot of growth within Elim with regards to Holistic Outreach over the years, we felt that God was leading us to get this area more a part of the day-to-day life of each person who calls Elim home.   It needs to become integrated into who we are in Christ.

As you read Romans 10: 12-15, it is interesting that God inspired Paul to quote Isaiah when speaking about the need for the lost to hear the Gospel.   As you read this passage, reflect on how it is the feet of those who bring the Gospel that are beautiful.   There is much that could be said about feet in that culture and why the Holy Spirit chose that part of the body as opposed to other body parts that we might more commonly think of with regards to bringing the Gospel. But clearly we are to use our feet for God’s purposes by getting out into the world and bringing the Gospel to those who need to hear.   Using our feet implies action.   Even if our feet get dirty or tired in doing this, God says that our feet are beautiful when used to bring His Gospel to those who need to hear it.

I want to be clear that having Holistic Outreach as a strategic objective does not mean that Elim is going to become a works-oriented church.  We all should be clear that “faith without works is dead” (James 2: 14-19).   But the scriptures are also clear that works without faith are useless.   For example, in the parable of the vine, Jesus was absolutely clear that we have to abide in him, that in abiding in Him we will bear much fruit,  and that apart from Him, we can do nothing (John 15: 1-17).    After he had fed the multitudes, when people asked Jesus what was the work that God required, His response was that the work was to believe in Him (John 6:29).    There are many other examples but I think it is clear that faith is the foundation of all works but also that faith leads to works.

But how does this happen?   As we look at the vision statement of Know, Grow, and Go, Holistic Outreach becomes a consequence (perhaps a supernatural consequence is a better way to put it) of knowing God and growing in our faith.  As you consider the strategic objectives, there is a clear progression.  A person comes to a saving faith in Christ, is assimilated into authentic, radical Christian community and continues to be spiritually transformed throughout their life.   This cannot help but lead to a life of Holistic Outreach.

Holistic Outreach is a strategic objective but also has a ministry team.   The Holistic Outreach Team was formed from what formerly was called the Missions Team and the Outreach Team.   This team is praying together and working to develop opportunities for us at Elim to serve together.   These will include outreach events, opportunities for short term missions, and opportunities to better connect with the missionaries who we support.   You will hear more about this as we start to talk more about Faith In Action.   We have had Faith In Action Sundays in the past and will do so again.   We will also have ongoing Faith In Action opportunities throughout the year.   However, Holistic Outreach is more than just events.   We also are praying about ways to equip us as a church to better engage in God’s mission for a lost world.   As we begin to prayerfully seek the Lord’s leading on Holistic Outreach, please pray about how He will grow you and use your gifts and talents for Holistic Outreach.

Just because it has a ministry team, Holistic Outreach is not solely the responsibility of that team. It is our prayer that Holistic Outreach will become part of what each ministry is and does.   Wherever you are serving within Elim, ask that God would give you and your leaders insight as to how to incorporate Holistic Outreach into that ministry.   We, as a congregation and as individuals, need to become increasingly engaged in the world, locally and globally, for the purpose of bringing the Gospel, in word and in deed, for the glory of God.   Each of us who claim Jesus is our Lord and Savior ought to be moved towards engagement with Holistic Outreach in some way.   There are blessings for us as we bring the Gospel to the world together.   May our feet become beautiful!

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Radical Community

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by Dan Amos

As we seek God’s direction for his church at Elim, the Elder Board has been going through the book of Acts–sort of going back to the basics of church.  One thing that struck me was that the explosive growth in the church did not come during Christ’s earthly ministry, but it came when the believers humbled themselves, prayed for the Holy Spirit and he did mighty things through the people.

They became a radically different community. Their neighbors looked at them and saw they were very different from who they used to be and from everyone around them.  The believers came together regularly for worship that must have been thrilling.  They sang songs and hymns, sat under the Apostles teaching, prayed, ate together and shared what they had, which they believed God had provided.

We can not possibly emulate what happened then except by each one of us, individually and corporately, being transformed by the Holy Spirit and living in community.  In Acts 2:42-47 and 4:32-35 we see the documentation of  the living and sharing in community, but in both cases it was preceded by teaching, prayer and being one in heart and mind.

We have long emphasized the need to be in relationships.  It was one area of our church-wide REVEAL survey where we were strongest.  We have many, many people regularly meeting in community groups, small groups, Bible studies and accountability relationships.  These will continue to be a part of who we are.

We will continue to concentrate on living and acting as a community.  Martin has often referred to making Elim “a light on the hill.”  Our goal is to foster loving, gracious and serving relationships to encourage and support one another as we go out and serve South Hill and beyond.  This is how we are called to live and it will be extremely painful if we try to do it on our own.  Instead, join us in prayer for the Holy Spirit to radically transform us and prepare to be blessed beyond our imaginations.

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How to talk to kids about tragedies, disasters

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Tips from World Vision

WASHINGTON, 15 March 2011— As information increases about the devastation of Japan’s earthquake and tsunami, our children will likely see disturbing news footage and have questions about this tragedy. Below are several suggestions on how to talk with children about this disaster and its impact.

These tips are provided by Christian humanitarian organization World Vision. World Vision has worked in Japan for more than two decades and responded to the massive Kobe earthquake in 1995, and now has staff assisting in the relief efforts in Sendai.

For more information on World Vision’s efforts please visit www.WorldVision.org.

Talking to kids about tragedy 

Talking to children about tragedy is a job most parents would love to avoid. If only our children did not need to hear about things like this past week’s devastating earthquake and tsunami in Japan. But of course, they do hear. And they are full of questions: Could this happen to me? What’s going to happen to the children? Can I do anything to help the children I see on TV?

World Vision US, a Christian humanitarian relief organization with staff on the ground in Japan now and in numerous other relief responses each year, suggests eight ways to make a tough job a little bit easier.

1. Start by listening.

Find out what your child already knows. You can then respond in an age-appropriate way. The aim is not to worry them with the devastating details, but to protect them from misinformation they may have heard from friends or disturbing images they may have seen on television.

2. Provide clear, simple answers

Limit your answer to the question asked and use simple language.

3. If you don’t know the answer, admit it

If your children ask questions that you can’t answer, tell them so, and then do some research to try and help them sort it out. If they ask “Why did this have to happen?” don’t be afraid to say “I don’t know.” If you are part of a faith community, the reassurance offered there can be invaluable in helping your child sort through the truth that awful things happen.

4. Follow media reports or online updates privately.

Young children in particular are easily traumatized, and seeing or hearing about the horrifying details of the quake may be more than they can cope with. Adults, too, should ensure they are dealing with their own emotions by talking to others, so they can continue to respond well to their children’s needs.

5. Concentrate on making them feel safe.

When tragedies occur, children wonder if the same event could happen in their hometown. If it was an act of nature that could not be repeated in your area, tell children that. Placing themselves in the situations of victims is not all bad—it is a sign of empathy, an essential life skill, but watch for signs of excessive worrying.

6. Give children creative outlets.

Some children may not be prepared to speak about what they have heard, but may find drawing or other creative activities helpful to deal with their emotions and stress. Their drawings can be helpful starting points for conversation.

7. Model involvement and compassion.

Tell your child that, as a family, you will be helping the people in Japan by giving a donation to a reputable charity such as World Vision.

8. Give your child a chance to be involved.

Being involved in the solution will help relieve some of their anxiety. Invite them to contribute to the family’s gift by giving something out of their piggy bank.

– END –

World Vision is a Christian humanitarian organization dedicated to working with children, families and their communities worldwide to reach their full potential by tackling the causes of poverty and injustice. We serve the world’s poor – regardless of religion, race, ethnicity or gender.

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Spiritual Transformation vs. Discipleship: What’s the Difference?

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by Martin Schlomer

Over the past 40 years, the evangelical church has invested a lot of effort in leading people toward spiritual maturity. The pathway consisted of attending church, serving in various ministries, praying for others, sharing your faith, reading/memorizing/mastering Scripture, and attending a small group Bible study. If you followed these disciplines, then you were told that you would mature. The church has called this pathway “discipleship.”

Starting in the late 1980s and to the present day, more and more people began asking the question: “Is this all there is to spiritual maturity? It feels like we’re missing something very important. As important as these disciplines are, this path feels like it’s little more than dos and don’ts. Where is the real change of heart, not just the change of behavior?” As far back as 1978, Richard Foster wrote, “The desperate need today is not for more intelligent people nor gifted people, but for deep people.” What was/is missing? Thomas Ashbrook said it best when he wrote:

Discipleship was aimed at equipping the believer for ministry. Character development worked at Christian integrity and behavior. Ongoing spiritual formation targets much more: lifelong transformation of the whole person into the image of Christ, in the context of a deep relationship with God.” (Mansions of the Heart, 11)

This “lifelong transformation of the whole person into the image of Christ, in the context of a deep relationship with God” is what the Elders want to lead Elim into. But what does this look like? Is there a pathway we can follow that will lead us further into this kind of transformational change? Absolutely!

In December 2010, the Elders adopted as one of our five strategic objectives the commitment to develop an intentional process/pathway of spiritual transformation whereby those who attend Elim are being conformed to the image of Christ by the work of the Holy Spirit and in the context of community. As a result, in January I began working with a team of people who are prayerfully studying the Scriptures as well as some writings from church history to come up with an intentional pathway that we will recommend to the Elders. The goal is to have everyone experience an ongoing process of genuine change that is formed by the Scriptures, informed by the wisdom from church history and empowered by the Spirit.

What will this process look like for Elim? We know that it will include moving people into a deeper understanding and experience of the following areas:

·         Experiencing God’s grace and forgiveness.

·         Embracing our identity in Christ and enjoying God as our Father.

·         Dealing with spiritual warfare.

·         Serving Christ out of a heart of love, not out of a heart of guilt and condemnation.

·         Connecting in and experiencing community.

·         Engaging in a deepening abiding relationship with God through the Holy Spirit.

As you can tell, there is a lot of work and prayer needed. Please pray for this process. We need to be discerning and led by the Holy Spirit as we go through it. We are at the beginning of what promises to be an exciting journey!

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Assimilation

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by Cindy Waple

Assimilation:

The Difference Between Attending and Belonging

Assimilation may be a big word, but it simply means successfully integrating people into a new environment. For Elim, “assimilation” means welcoming newcomers with the love of Christ and providing a process to become active members of our community — where they can know God, grow with others in Christ and go and serve South Hill and beyond.

As the Strategic Planning Team discerned our five strategic objectives for the next 1-5 years (communication, assimilation, spiritual transformation, community, and holistic outreach), we affirmed the importance of making every visitor feel welcome and having a process in place where newcomers can move from simply attending Elim to actually belonging as vital, functioning members of our community. This process includes not just greeting, but following up with visitors; introducing them to leadership at Elim and providing opportunities to learn about Elim’s vision and mission; assessing spiritual gifting and strengths; helping them join small group communities where they can continue to grow in Christ; and facilitating them serving in ministries that are in line with their gifting and calling.

For visitors who have not received Christ, we want to provide every opportunity for them not just to hear the Gospel and learn about Christ, but also to experience His love and grace through the body at Elim.

Much of what happens around assimilation is already taking place within Elim: visitors are greeted and engaged by the leaders and members as well as invited to small groups, Bible studies, Pulse, etc. However, the assimilation ministry will provide an intentional process to engage visitors and newcomers, ensuring that every visitor receives a proper welcome.

Mark and Barb McCullough have graciously agreed to lead this important ministry and are looking for those who would like to join them as this ministry forms. If you feel called to this ministry we invite you to contact Mark and Barb.

We are excited about the assimilation ministry that is forming! However, it is important to note that each of us has a role to play. We all have the responsibility of welcoming visitors when we see them on Sunday morning, and reaching out to them, perhaps even inviting them to your small group or Bible study. As we share Christ’s love with newcomers and welcome them into the community at Elim, not only will we see lives touched and transformed by God’s Spirit, but we also will be transformed.

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