Last night my family and I along with our small group served dinner at the local homeless shelter. It is something that my wife and I have been wanting to do for several months now and the planets finally aligned and it was a great experience. It was really cool! Four families from our small group along with ten children (four of which were ours) stormed the place. We served BBQ hamburgers to 35 homeless or transitional people in Lompoc. The people were so nice and appreciative and seemed to enjoy the “life” that our group brought. It is something our group is going to do a monthly basis and our church does on a weekly basis.
Now my city doesn’t have a large homeless population. We are twenty miles off of the nearest freeway and kind of secluded. To be honest that is that way that most of the people in my town like it. They want to remain a small town (even though there are 65,000 people in the area). That presents a problem of inward focus. People, like most everywhere else, tend to look after their own and are almost vigilant about not exposing themselves or their families to anything that might adversely affect it. They use excuses like business or such but in reality, in their gross fear, they don’t want to be bothered. I find this most apparent in my church which is located in a upper middle class bedroom community right next to a country club. Here the focus is on forward advancement and anything of service must serve that cause. Sadly, because of so much inward focus, there is a lot of hollowness and exhaustion.
We are doing things to change that. We have created a campaign that is focused on reaching the lost and hurting of Lompoc. Do I expect the whole church to jump on board? No, but I do want to take that core group of people in our church who are being moved by the Holy Spirit and have a hunger to reach people and give them an opportunity. In the process I also think that those who are on the fence might give it a try. I am not worried about consensus or even who is not there, but out of the conviction that God is putting on my heart, ministering to those God is giving us.
To augment this process of making our church more mission minded I started teaching through the Gospel of John last Sunday. You can’t teach through this book without realizing your role in reaching your community. Even in the prologue of John he mentions “light”, “witness”, and “believe” several times. In fact the whole purpose of John is wrapped up in John 20:31 which says “but these are written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.” John wrote the whole book with the purpose of reaching the lost Jews in the Diaspora.
While I would not join what is called the Missional movement I am trying to lead our church to be more missions minded. I have always had a heart for the lost and hurting and that got lost in my attempt to disciple and equip the church that God has blessed me with. I don’t think you can come to a complete balance but I definitely want to correct the lopsided wobble. We are all called as Christians and churches to reach those who don’t know Jesus. The question we need to ask is “How mission minded are we?”
Hi, Chuck – it was good connecting with you last week. Great post. It’s not easy not surrendering to the culture and temperature of the church you serve. Instead of getting sucked in, you are getting out in front and leading. And you are leading in two ways – by example and by teaching (in this case, the gospel of John). So often, those who lead by example only scold those not following him. And then there are those who lead in word only and become dismayed when others don’t follow what they teach even though they don’t example what they teach. Also, it sounds that you are emotionally and intellectually prepared for any blowback that may be coming your way even if it’s the blowback of indifference. The question the church has to answer is: is the old wine skin prepared for the new wine?
Small town of 65,000 that is 20 miles from the freeway? Having grown up in SoCal, I understand that, but our small town is only 2,000 and there are only highways in this neck of the woods. 😉
I mention our demographic because outreach through our church is mainly on a one on one level, rather than a corporate expression. We have an opportunity to be a part of a city wide outreach in a few weeks where we are going to do some hands-on serving to people who need help around their homes. I hoping to see as many of our folks get involved as are able as it seems that the fire of mission work is usually ignited by getting people involved and letting them taste the fruit of God using them.
Great! God is giving you vision to love your community with the gospel being the cutting edge of the knife.
Yesterday I was approached on the High Street (kinda like Main Street for Brits) by a charity looking for money for a good cause. They felt I would be an easy sale being a pastor of a church. But as much as the cause is good (helping those in need), I want to give my money to those who may do the same practical work, but with a gospel purpose. Some would want to reduce the gospel to simply helping those in distress. Although this may reflect the gospel who saves us from the distress of our sins. The full gospel is actually that salvation of soul. Loving our neighbour is practical, but the deepest love is spiritual too.
Love what you guys are doing, Chuck. Love the aggressive attitude with which you are seeking to reach the people in your community. Blessings!