GCI Update

Culture of the Kingdom

Greg and Susan Williams
Greg and Susan Williams

Dear GCI Family and Friends,

If our GCI culture is sourced and shaped by our central personality, Jesus, then for all practical purposes we are ambassadors of Jesus.

What do you think of when you hear the word ambassador? Does your mind think about a politician, or a diplomat who represents our nation in a far-off land? Does it feel overwhelming? Perhaps you think that’s just not me. But maybe it is you.

When we read Paul’s words in 2 Corinthians 5, we realize he is stating our ambassadorship as a matter of fact.

So, we are ambassadors for Christ, since God is making his appeal through us; we entreat you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God. (2 Corinthians 5:20 NRSVA)

Because we are new creations in Christ (verse 17), and he resides in us, the natural flow is that we are his earthly representatives. We are in the mix of the reconciliation ministry of Christ.

A strong parallel thought to being Christ’s ambassadors is that Jesus came in the flesh, and in his public ministry he continuously and persistently announced his eternal kingdom (Mark 1:15). In Luke 17:21, Jesus indicated that he had inaugurated the kingdom of God by his presence — the king is among them. Since the days of John the Baptist, the kingdom is advancing and breaking in (Matthew 11:11-13). The kingdom has a here-and-now dimension that we need to tap into. I call this the kingdom culture.

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Devotional—Rooted in Love

Editor’s Note: For our Ordinary Time Devotional series, you are hearing entirely from young authors. They are sharing their perspectives on the theme, “God is in the streets.” Enjoy reading how the next generation of emerging GCI leaders experiences God outside the walls of the Sunday church gathering.

God is present in our relationships. When I’m with my loved ones, I feel God’s presence. We were made as an outpouring of the love of the Trinity, to love and share love. When I’m living into that reality, I feel more in tune with God and with those around me.

cheerful multiracial friends and family holding hands and praying together at Thanksgiving tableGod is in the streets, walking with me and my friends as we explore coffee shops and bookstores. God is at the dinner table during Thanksgiving as my family shares a meal. God is standing with me at my grandma’s hospital bedside when I say, “Goodbye for now. I love you.” God was with me when I looked into my wife’s eyes and said I do.

There isn’t a time when God leaves me alone. But when I’m with my loved ones, whatever the circumstance, it’s easier for me to feel the presence of the God who is love.

And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God. Ephesians 3:17b-19 NIV

Prayer: God, thank you for your immeasurable love from which we were formed and for your goodness in making us in your image, to call us your children. Thank you for giving us the calling to love one another and share your gospel as we go about our lives with all people. Amen.

By Andrew Rakestraw
Tallahassee, FL, US

Faith, Hope, and Love in Action Workshop

In Winnipeg, we were blessed to be able to host the Faith, Hope, and Love in Action Workshop for the vision churches of Canada in October. This was a great encouragement to us to see that the denomination has not forgotten about us up north. It was further encouragement for us to see the Canadian churches working towards the same goal of implementing the three Avenues.

Though we might be at different stages, we were all there to lift each other up, and help each church build on the momentum that they already have. It is always meaningful for us to take stock of what we have already been able to accomplish by God’s grace, so that we can continue down the road, one step at a time. The workshop helped us to celebrate how much has already been put into action, so that we can continue to look ahead with hope.

By Alexander Brandt, Pastor
Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada

Neighborhood Mystery Dinner

On October 14, I participated in a Love Avenue engagement hosted by my parents, Dishon and Afrika Mills. Faith Avenue Champion Afrika and Pastor Dishon serve in the GC Steele Creek church plant.

The event was a mystery dinner. At a mystery dinner, guests work together to collect clues, work out puzzles, and solve a fictional crime. Our purpose was to provide a chance to get to know some people in the Steele Creek area. We invited neighbors by posting the invitation on our homeowner association’s page and Nextdoor (an online platform that allows members to create community groups to facilitate communication among neighbors). Members of our church plant attended as facilitators and wait staff.

It was a great way to get people to work toward a common goal and have fun while doing it. I learned that a wonderful way to help strangers connect is to intentionally give them something to talk about. This game does that while also giving guests the freedom to do it in a way that is comfortable to them, not forcing any interactions.

It was a meaningful way to gather neighbors without them feeling pressured to be involved with the church. We hope they became curious though, because very few churches would choose a mystery dinner as a way to connect with the community.

By Serena Mills
Steele Creek, NC, US


Community Carnival

Grace Communion Glendora held its third carnival for the surrounding neighborhoods on October 14. More than 200 children, almost 200 adults, and 33 volunteers enjoyed the games and refreshments. The carnivals have helped our congregation become known in the area, and we see several families returning for the events. Some expressed appreciation that the carnival provided an opportunity for families to get away from their electronic devices and do something together as a family.

The carnivals have given us many contacts in the community and have allowed us to use email lists to invite neighbors to our smaller events, where there is more opportunity to build relationships. As we walk the neighborhoods distributing fliers, we see and greet families who know us!

These activities, in addition to being outreach events, also help bond members together as we work together. This will be helpful as the Monrovia congregation merges into ours in late November, and we will join forces to present our second annual living nativity this December. The merger will mean that we have more people to help reach the neighborhood in our mission.

By Mike Morrison, Associate Pastor
Glendora, CA, US

Meet Bret Miller

“I am grateful for the love, mercy, and grace of Jesus.”

Check out this month’s GCI Profile to get to know Bret Miller, GCI Home Office IT Manager. To read his full profile, click here or the image below.

Prayer Guide—November 2023

“Prayers are tools, but with this clarification: Prayers are not tools for doing or getting, but for being and becoming.” – Eugene Peterson

Prayer unites us in ways words cannot express. Our monthly prayer guide is more than a guide; it’s a doorway to deeper communion. In these moments of shared devotion, we strengthen our bonds and grow in faith.  #WeAreGCI

Join us in prayer today. Click here or on the image below to download this month’s prayer guide.

Never miss a day by receiving this Prayer Guide straight to your email inbox before the first of the month! Sign up here.

From Equipper—Until Christ is Formed in You

Join us! During the weeks of Advent, we invite you to follow this spiritual practice from Equipper.

Enjoy and subscribe today!

My first pregnancy was not like Mary’s pregnancy with Jesus. There’s the obvious difference—while my husband and I experienced the pregnancy as a miracle, our child was not immaculately conceived. There are other differences as well. I was in my late 20s while Mary was a teenager. I was married, and though Mary was betrothed, she was not yet married. I deeply desired to be pregnant while Mary’s pregnancy was a surprise. I was surrounded by a village of loved ones who prayed alongside us for a child while Mary lived in a time when becoming pregnant in that context was met with societal doubt, judgment, and shaming. My experience was more like Hannah’s as recounted in 1 Samuel 1. We navigated the ache of infertility, longing and praying for a child who my husband and I were unsure would ever come to be.

What our stories have in common, however—what we all have in common—is the shared experience of Advent, a period of active waiting and anticipation. Though we wait, there is much happening in the waiting. It is a time filled with promise and possibility. We are being spiritually formed.

Spiritual formation is the journey through which we can develop deeper intimacy with and connection to God. I committed my life to Jesus more than 30 years ago, and for much of that time, my focus was on either doing things or avoiding doing things in hopes of keeping God from being upset with me. I didn’t really know what it meant to be with, loved, and formed by God.

Last year, however, after being introduced to spiritual formation by a close friend, I had the privilege of participating in the School of Formation alongside other Christ followers as we learned about and practiced contemplative rhythms, interior examination, racial justice and reconciliation, wholeness, and missional rhythms. Through that experience, I began to truly understand what it means to be in Christ.

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