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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