Here is a sermon from Dishon Mills, the GCI church planter who is forming a team to start The Redeemed of Christ Church (ROCC), a new GCI church located in Randolph, MA (near Boston).
The sermon, titled Living on Mission with God, examines our calling to participate in God’s mission, and what that looks like in ROCC. The sermon may be downloaded from Vimeo (click on the icon on the image below) and then shown in worship services or a Bible study.
Thirty-one people representing five congregations gathered in Phoenix, AZ for a Ministry Development training presented by Ted Johnston to the SW GCI District (Nevada/Arizona/New Mexico). The two Phoenix congregations hosted the event.
Ted (pictured at left) presented the seminar, “Becoming a Missional Church.” He challenged us to participate in the Father’s mission through Jesus’ ministry by the power of the Holy Spirit. We all went home encouraged to reach out to our communities in more effective ways.
Divine fellowship was the source of Jesus’ words and works – indeed of His entire life, ministry and leadership – so our experience of Divine fellowship will be the source of all true Christian character, fruit and leadership in our lives.
“But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as by the Spirit of the Lord” (2 Cor. 3:18, NKJV).
As a result, just as Jesus, through living by His Father’s life, revealed His Father to the world, so we, through living by means of Jesus’ indwelling life, will express His life and being to the world. As Paul testified:
“We always carry around in our body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be revealed in our body. For we who are alive are always being given over to death for Jesus’ sake, so that his life may be revealed in our mortal body. So then, death is at work in us, but life is at work in you” (2 Cor. 4:10-12).
This is the simple nature of the Christian life: union with Jesus, and living by means of His indwelling life.
This report was filed by Mark McCulley, GCI pastor and district pastoral leader in Colorado.
In 2010, our GCI congregation participated in Building Blocks, a joint outreach initiative by 25 churches in Arvada, CO. The program encouraged members of the participating churches to get acquainted with the people living in their neighborhoods.
The program began in response to a challenge from Arvada’s mayor (who is Christian), to bless the city through obedience to the second Great Commandment (to love people). Each participating pastor gave a series of three sermons on the topic, challenging people to stretch themselves to reach out – doing such things as hosting a block party in their neighborhood. Some people responded, and wonderful stories emerged about the building of relationships with neighbors.
In 2011, we participated again – this time with a new tool – an online map where people could register their home as members of one of the participating churches (see the map at http://buildingblocks.us/). The last time I looked, more than 1,000 homes were registered. The effort has spread to other parts of the Denver area as more pastors catch the vision and gather in prayer to seek God’s direction.
A key concern of pastors and ministry leaders is to participate with Jesus in identifying and developing additional leaders. Here is a helpful blog post on that topic from author Bob Logan.
– Ted Johnston, GCI ministry developer
Leave it to Jesus to be forward-looking. He knew there would be many years to come when he could not be there with his followers, showing them how to do things. He taught them how to figure out how to take the next steps. He shaped their characters and prepared them to learn to listen to the Holy Spirit who would come. He encouraged them to engage in service and learn as they go.
Can we do the same for our people? How can we prepare them to serve and to lead when we are no longer there to guide them? Read the scriptures below as you reflect.
Jesus challenged people to take the next step (Mark 5:19, John 8:11)
Jesus invested in a few, not in the masses (Luke 6:12-14, Mark 10:32, Mark 9:2)
Jesus invited people into an apprenticing process (Matt 4:18-20)
Jesus chose unlikely disciples (Matt 9:9, Matt 4:18-19)
Jesus engaged people in service (Luke 10:1-24)
Jesus shaped people’s character through life experience (Luke 9:51-56, Luke 22:54-62, Mark 9:14-29)
Jesus ministered with an eye toward multiplication (Matt 10:1-8, Luke 10:1-3)
Jesus intentionally embedded the essential DNA into his followers (John 15-17)
Jesus taught in a way that made people think for themselves (John 3:8-9, Mark 4:33-34, Prov 20:5)
Jesus told stories that helped people see from a new perspective (Luke 12:13-21, Luke 18:9-14, Luke 15:11-32)
Jesus had a plan for his ministry to go on without him (Matt 16:17-19, John 15:26-27)
The following report is from Heartland camp director, Todd Woods.
This summer, we held Heartland SEP Camp at Eagle Crest Camp on the banks of the Illinois River. Our 93 staffers arrived Friday and prepared spiritually with a foot washing/communion service that set the tone for our “Living Loved” theme. Several new staffers were present, having been recruited through our new staff-in-training program titled C.R.E.W. (Coaching Real Enthusiastic Workers). Several staffers came to us from the Gateway to God camp in the St. Louis area. Gateway is taking a brief hiatus as they further develop their camp staff.
Our 99 campers arrived on Sunday. We offered them 25 camp activities, including such new additions as tie dyeing, origami, job search and sign language. A camp highlight was the prayer service we held mid-week. Campers and staffers brought their needs forward to the pastoral staff that laid hands on them and prayed. Throughout the crowd, campers (including young children) were laying hands on each other and praying without any prompting from the staff! On Saturday, many parents arrived in time to share the final chapel service, which included seven baptisms. Several staffers announced that they will be launching a weekend camping event in eastern Illinois. This multiplication is an answer to our prayers that the camp ministry spread to new areas.
Janet Morrison, director of Generations Ministries Great Commission Trips, returned recently from a mission trip to Africa. With her husband Mike (a senior editor in GCI media), Janet led a group that conducted Vacation Bible Schools in three GCI congregations in Zambia and three in Malawi (see map). Below are pictures from the trip to the church in Chawama, Zambia. For more information, see http://gctrips.org/ZAMBIA.aspx.
The following report is from Carribbean Mission Developer Charles Fleming.
Over the weekend of September 2–6, Pastor David Perry from Indiana and Pastor David Botha from Ohio accompanied me on a visit to our church and school in Haiti. Our members are doing well and have come a long way in restoring some form of normalcy to their lives following the earthquake. They are grateful for the prayers and other forms of support extended to them by so many in GCI. The knowledge that they are part of a denomination-wide community that cares for them means a great deal to them.
We had two goals for this trip: First, to be a physical representation of GCI to them. And second, to evaluate how best GCI members and sister churches can help the school be all it can be. What we experienced was far more than that. Mission trips can be times of heightened awareness of just how active the ascended Lord of all life continues his incarnated engagement with a sin-suffocated world. This trip was no exception, as Haiti has a way of laying bare the rawness of human need and resilience, on the one hand, and God’s love on the other. Here are a few reflections on what we experienced.
We were privileged to meet a few expatriate businessmen and missionaries. We were struck by their deep respect for the Haitian people. They acknowledged how hard it is to live in Haiti—with its weak governing structure, corruption, crime, inefficiency, etc.—but most of their conversation focused on the strength and resilience of the people. They put into words what I have felt on each of my visits over the past 20 years. Haitians highlight the fact that God made us in his image. In my view, many Haitians are living representatives of the way the Lord of Life always finds a way to let life win! No matter what God’s created children do to separate themselves from him and his true life, he finds a way to turn our death-wish into life. No matter what happens in their country, people in Haiti pick themselves up and move forward with a nobleness of spirit that always surprises and inspires me.
Our little church of 15 members demonstrates this resilience. Pastor Joseph Franklin and the school staff are ready for the new school year, which should have begun during our visit, but schools have been ordered to remain closed until a new Minister of Education is appointed. Undaunted, they continue to enroll students, expecting at least 150. They also persevere in the face of minimal infrastructure support. Like most Haitian institutions, they have back-up generators because of frequent power cuts. In a state where the government cannot provide adequate security, they have adjusted to a new rhythm of life where they are home before sundown.
We got to see how God adds to our little family in Haiti. We participated in the baptism of Cassandre Naval, daughter of Andre and Maggie Naval, who are leaders in the congregation. Jean Desravines, who lives at the school and serves as a watchman, was also baptized (picture at right).
I sat in on a meeting that Pastor Franklin had with leaders from a group of 30 churches that would like some form of affiliation with GCI (picture at left). Mr Franklin was invited to speak at the group’s upcoming annual convention at the end of this month. There are also plans to continue meeting to discern God’s will for them.
We became friends with two young Danish men who are back-packing around the Caribbean and Latin America. They were staying at the same hotel we stayed at and decided they wanted to experience Haitian life from our perspective as church pastors on mission. So they came to both of our church services (picture below), attended the baptism ceremony, ate most meals with us and engaged us in conversations about life and spirituality.
I was impressed by the growing passion for, and expertise in, mission within our denomination. God clearly is building a movement for mission that is both bottom-up and top-down. The top-down impetus is seen in the way our leaders emphasize and promote mission and set up basic systems and structures to encourage it. The bottom-up impetus was well represented by Pastors Perry and Botha.
I conclude with a few prayer requests.
Please continue to pray for our members, their safety as well as for God to provide for their needs.
Please join us in praying for God’s guidance as to what he wants to come out of the conversations about possible affiliation with the group of 30 churches.
Pray for the national leadership that, for example, there could be a new Minister of Education appointed soon.
David Perry and Jeff Snyder (pastor of our Savannah, Georgia congregation) are planning two trips to Haiti over the next eight months to upgrade the school. Pray for all the planning and especially for their safety.
Join us in giving thanks for the recent baptisms and blessings such as the fact that Daniel Naval (brother of the young lady baptized) recently won a full scholarship and is studying in France and is now part of our church in France.