By Larry Short
How beautiful on the mountains are the feet of those who bring good news, who proclaim peace, who bring good tidings, who proclaim salvation, who say to “Your God reigns!” Isa. 52:7
If our mission statement were only the first two lines, which we’ve covered in this space the last three weeks … KNOW God, GROW together in Christ … as important as those are, it would be woefully incomplete. We would be ignoring the purpose which God has created us to achieve! This coming weekend Pastor Martin is preaching on the following portion of the Lord’s prayer: Your Kingdom come, Your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.”
It’s clear from Christ’s final instructions in Matthew 28 that “going and making disciples” is ultimately how God will fulfill this prayer of Christ’s. Without disciples making disciples in each generation, the Kingdom will decline rather than advance.
As the Strategy Team was crafting this new vision statement, we debated many different words that we could have chosen for the third line of the statement. Here is why we chose the words we did:
GO – We cannot simply sit on our duffs in our comfy church, waiting for potential disciples to come to us. That’s never been how it works in God’s economy. He’s always moved His Church outward … into Jerusalem (the community around us), (neighboring regions outside our comfort zone), and then, ultimately, to the uttermost ends of the earth – WAY outside our comfort zone! “Going” is about taking action: using our feet and moving out. We must be both strategic and urgent about how we are going to move into our community and beyond. At Elim, one key way we do that is through our Outreach and Missions team, led by Dr. Cal Kierum, and through the teams they support. We as a church really need to ramp up our involvement in these teams! If you can’t find a team that fits what you feel God is calling you to do … start one! And if you feel God calling you to be more involved in shaping the growth of this ministry, talk to Cal about serving on the leadership team.
SERVE – In recent Christian history there has been much emphasis placed on proclamation. But proclamation is just one part of Christ’s strategy. Christ was sent to the earth, humbling Himself, as a suffering servant. He modeled and demonstrated servanthood as the primary way we should express God’s love for the people around us. We have focused on the word “serve” in our vision statement not to say that there should not also be proclamation (for telling the truth to someone who needs and is prepared to hear it is indeed serving them), but to recognize that service is the key way that we will build relationships in our community and beyond, and win a hearing for the Gospel, raising questions (such as, “Why do you love like this?”) to which Jesus alone is the answer.
SOUTH HILL and BEYOND – The holistic nature of our target audience is reflected in this statement. We are to bear witness both locally and globally, just as the first Christians were called to do the same. We continue to wholeheartedly embrace foreign missions, while recognizing the need to also focus on our community. For years churches have made it “too easy” for themselves by visualizing missions only as something that happens “over yonder.” We could live whatever way we wanted to in our communities (not seeking to know or serve our neighbors) because we comforted ourselves in the fact that we were paying professionals to reach the Pygmies in Africa. But the truth is that our next-door neighbors (not to mention the people who live in tent cities all around us) need Jesus just as badly as the Pygmies do … and we are responsible to be reaching out to our neighbors even as we are supporting efforts to spread the Gospel in fertile soils throughout the rest of the world.This third part of our vision statement is the hardest, because it is ultimately the end goal. Christianity is always one generation away from extinction, and may also be one generation (or less!) away from Christ’s imminent return. We don’t want to be caught sleeping when He comes! And because it is the hardest, it will require the most prayer. The need for “more and better” prayer, both personal and corporate, is the single largest gaping hole in our church uncovered by the Reveal survey. If we fail to become the praying people that Christ is calling us to become, we will fail to achieve the purpose to which He has called us. For the truth is that we cannot, in our own strength, “Go and serve.” We need His power, His leading, His passion … and these things come only through prayer.
God is calling us to faithfulfulness … faithfulness in knowing Him, in growing together in Christ, and in going and serving, South Hill and beyond. Will we respond to His call?