Dear GCI Family and Friends,
The National Association of Evangelicals in the US is a body of evangelical denominations, organizations, schools, churches, and individuals. There are 40 denominations that represent 45,000 churches across America. The NAE works to connect and represent evangelicals with a desire to be an influence for good.
In early December, Susan and I attended the two-day executive meeting where denominational leaders meet with the NAE President for an open forum. We sit in an informal circle and we discuss whatever topics the various leaders bring up.
The meetings informed and inspired me on several levels. Many of the denominational leaders identify themselves with the role of being the chief executive and spiritual leader for their organization, and this is a specific job that only a few people hold. So, it is a marvelous opportunity to be able to discuss how each of us approaches our day-to-day work, the challenges we face and the trends we are seeing. The comradery we share and the noticeable love for Christ and his church are palpable.
I am also inspired by the magnificent work of planting and growing churches that are being accomplished by several movements. City-wide campaigns to tangibly share the love of Christ and the message of the gospel are taking place in Omaha, NE, Austin, TX, and Fort Wayne, IN. The stories were inspiring and humbling. In representation of GCI I stated my amazement of these wonderful efforts and then shared that we are making a humble effort to engage the one-square-mile neighborhood where our church meeting halls are located. I was affirmed by several leaders that this may seem small, but you must start from where you are.
It is a good place to start – wherever it is that God has placed us to meet and worship and share his love with others. I pray that our 900 churches around the world are getting started in this endeavor to know your one-square-mile neighborhood and the neighbors who live there (if you are a rural church the area would expand beyond a mile). Our challenge is getting to know the rhythms and activities of our neighborhoods, and to discover the connecting points. There are many ways to connect to life in the neighborhood — a weekend farmer’s market or a community Facebook page — the question is how do we then connect the neighbors back to the life of the church? Maybe it’s a free hamburger at a fun day in our parking lot? Maybe it is a seat in one of the member’s homes at a small group meeting? Whatever the connection is, it must be about the relationship and valuing each person in that one square mile as a beloved child of God. This is the gospel engagement we are aiming for.
In Matthew 5:14, Jesus tells us we are the light of the world and a city built on a hill cannot be hidden. As a church, we want to be reflecting the light of Jesus to the neighborhoods we inhabit. This is how we share God’s love and life with others. If the church is being the body of Christ, it will be known, and it will continually aspire to be an influence for good as the love of Jesus is freely shared. In essence, GCI needs a big debut to spread the life and love of Jesus that we all possess and want others to experience as well. Share the story of your debut and let’s celebrate together.
Praying over the one square mile,