This is it. This will be the last column related to Hope’s 15th Anniversary. But first an update on our Keep Making a Difference offering. We are half-way through the giving period and we are half-way to our goal of $15,000 ($1,000 for each year of ministry). Reaching our goal should be easily within our grasp. If you haven’t given yet you can do so through your on-line CCB portal and chose it from the drop-down menu or simply use an envelope from the back of the chair on a Sunday morning and indicate it’s for KMD. I am so proud to be a part of a giving church…one that is excited to send these funds to be used by others. Thanks for your generosity.
Now my Anniversary thought. Actually, it is a prayer for our future. The focus of the prayer is on a congregational trait has certainly been characteristic of Hope over its first 15 years, but one that could and should be much, much stronger over the next 15. As I look at the early Church, one trait that stands out to me is this: the more they fell in love with Jesus, the more they came to love and pursue those who were far from God. As they grew in their love and knowledge of God, their love for those God loved and sent His Son to die for also grew. This love put all kinds of things in motion. They understood they were somehow Christ’s Ambassadors, the Light of the World, and persistently worked to figure out what that meant in their everyday lives. They sent some of their best leaders off in the effort to expand their reach for those far from God (Acts 13). They collected special offerings to support these workers. They tolerated and worked through the chaos that resulted in the church when those who didn’t know how to live in a “godly” way began to worship and fellowship among them (Acts 15, the whole reason for 1 Corinthians). They endured persecution, retribution, slander and all kinds of other difficulties because they kept pushing the limits in trying to love those who were far from God. Knowing God was inseparably linked to reaching those who didn’t know Him at all.
I have come to understand that this is the number one thing that qualifies a church as a “good” church. It isn’t the building. It isn’t the music. It isn’t the preaching. It isn’t the people. It is what happens to the people as they fall more in love with God. With the 10 years or so of ministry I have left, I will consider them a success if I can look back on them and say: “as people fell more in love with God they fell more in love with those far from God and did all they could to share God’s love with them”. If that comes to pass as God answers my prayer, then two things will have happened. First, many folks will have fallen more completely and authentically in love with God. And two, those far from God would have been personally invited to come close to Him.
Will you commit to such a thing? If so, let me know by replying to this email with the simple phrase “I’m all in!”