Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Looking Back at 2009

Most church leaders are all too glad to be bringing 2009 to a close. The economic situation that began in the fall of 2008 is still impacting ministries across the country. While there is no denying the impact of that event, I prefer to take a “glass half full” approach and look at some positive movements in the Body of Christ.

Servant Evangelism – The church is expanding beyond its walls. For far too long the church has been viewed by many as a fort, keeping the inhabitants safe from the dangers outside the walls. Led by a movement of vibrant churches across the country, the church has “left the building.” Across the country it seems as if a revival of service is taking place. In churches large and small, in urban and rural areas alike, the people of God are discovering the ministry of service in unique and practical ways. And through it all, the love of God is being offered to people who desperately need it.

  • In South Bend, IN Granger Community Church has invested heavily in people resources in the downtown area called Monroe Circle. Amazing things have happened there in the last eight years – and it appears that even more amazing things will happen in the future as residents have found faith in Christ and confidence in themselves to start a new life

  • Hundreds of churches in Portland Oregon came together in a “Season of Service” to address five community concerns: homelessness, the medically uninsured, public schools, hunger, and the environment. Over 25,000 volunteers from these churches fanned out across the city in an outpouring of love and generosity that moved the city. Even skeptical city officials were amazed at the outflow, and promised to continue working with the churches to accomplish even greater things. Evangelist Luis Palau, Pastor Rick McKinley of Imago Dei and Pastor John Bishop of Living Hope Church are leading the efforts.

  • Dino Rizzo and the Healing Place Church in Baton Rouge LA started a “revolution through serving” several years ago. It has attracted a lot of national attention, and in the week before Easter, churches large and small from one end of the country to the other participated in simple acts of kindness intended to show their communities their unconditional love.

What’s the deal? Here’s my take on what’s happening: We typically think of the church as the “gathered” collection of believers in a place and time: usually on Sunday mornings. Powerful worship and illuminating study of the Word of God takes place. Then the church goes home. One week later, repeat. On and on, happily oblivious to the desperate needs outside the church walls.

It’s almost as if we live separate lives.But now take another look - the “scattered” church is awakening to the power of God lived out in member’s daily lives. People are realizing that they are called to be the hands and feet of Christ, ministering and serving others as they live out their daily lives.

Tomorrow's look back: Vision.

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