It is my pleasure to have Heber Ticas as a guest writer. The consulting and coaching he has done with several churches through “Outside the Walls” (OTW) have been transformative. To see our congregations come together and intentionally focus on how they as a corporate body can better connect with their neighborhood, and to work together with their Love Avenue activities and events is helping them to shine the light of Jesus beyond the interior walls of their church building. In this issue, Heber will share what happened in three US sites during summer 2022. It is our goal that OTW will be shared with our brothers and sisters outside the US also.
Heber, thank you for the way you have served our churches. It is making a positive difference!
–Greg Williams, President
Dear GCI Family and Friends,
As I address all of you through this Update, I pray that you are enjoying the riches of the grace that our heavenly Father has poured over every one of us in Christ. Amid the many challenges that we may face in our lives and in our local congregations, we are sustained through his love. In union with Christ, we are empowered to live out our individual and corporate church expressions as we participate with Jesus in his everyday mission.
Our GCI mission statement of “Living and Sharing the Gospel” is at the core of who we are as followers of Christ. We are a sent people to bear witness to the saving grace of our God in Christ Jesus. In GCI, we desire that our churches live out our mission statement as we are compelled by his love. His love motivates us to move out of the four walls of our churches in order to engage our neighborhoods with acts that express the love God has for all.
As GCI’s National Coordinator for Church Multiplication, I have been entrusted with the task of bringing high support to some congregations that possess the bandwidth to move outside the walls of their churches. We call this support Outside the Walls (OTW) consulting. The purpose of the consulting is to assist the pastor and leadership teams through the process of understanding the current environment of the congregation and the demographics of the church neighborhood and to help the congregation move towards missional participation with Jesus. This high support provided to these churches is holistic in nature and consists of five phases. This year we offered this support to three congregations in the US, as Greg mentioned.
At the center of the consulting is the planning and preparation of the OTW weekend at each of the congregations receiving the support. The weekend consists of comprehensive healthy church equipping coupled with a missional event that is put together with the purpose of creating a relational space for the congregation. This space affords the church the ability to meet their neighbors and forge new relationships.
Terry McDonald, pastor of South Kansas City, reflected on their OTW experience:
“What we discovered together as a team was that there needed to be a shift in the mindset of the fellowship regarding the reason and purpose of engaging our neighborhood. People deserve to be loved because they are the image-bearers of our triune God, not because we need more bodies in the seats. We need persistent engagement, clarity of purpose, and intentionality as we love our neighbors as ourselves.”
By God’s grace, our experiences in all three events were formative and helped shaped the churches’ approach to living and sharing the gospel. Our church members stepped out of their comfort zones and engaged God’s children in ways that powerfully reflected the love of God. One of the churches hosted a neighborhood block party, the other hosted a neighborhood summer celebration, and the third church hosted a Christmas in July event. All three events expressed the vibrancy of our fellowship, the local congregation, and our desire to make disciples with Jesus.
As we move forward as a church family, we must not discount the calling that God has placed on our fellowship to step out in faith and partake in the joy of joining Jesus as he calls his children by the Spirit into communion with his body. I ask you to join me in prayer, petitioning our God to give us the ability to discern Jesus’ movements in our neighborhoods so we may step out in faith to join him.