God of truth and love, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, Hear our prayer for those who do not know You.
We ask that they may come to a saving knowledge of the truth and that Your Name may be praised among all peoples of the world.
Sustain, inspire and enlighten Your servants who bring them the Gospel.
Bring fresh vigor to wavering faith; sustain our faith when it is still fragile. Continually renew missionary zeal in ourselves and in the Church; raise up new missionaries who will follow You to the ends of the world.
Make us witnesses to Your goodness; full of love, strength and faith – for Your glory and the salvation of the entire world.
The Christian faith, I submit, is intrinsically missionary….This dimension of the Christian faith is not an optional extra: Christianity is missionary by its very nature, or it denies its very raison d’être.
Christian mission gives expression to the dynamic relationship between God and the world, particularly as this was portrayed, first, in the story of the covenant people of Israel and then, supremely, in the birth, life, death, resurrection, and exaltation of Jesus of Nazareth.
The entire Christian existence is to be characterized as missionary existence….The church begins to be missionary not through its universal proclamation of the gospel, but through the universality of the gospel it proclaims.
Theologically speaking, “foreign missions” is not a separate entity. The missionary nature of the church does not just depend on the situation in which it finds itself at a given moment but is grounded in the gospel itself. The justification and foundation for foreign missions, as for home missions, ‘lies in the universality of salvation and the indivisibility of the reign of Christ.’ The difference between home and foreign missions is not one of principle but of scope.
We have to distinguish between mission (singular) and missions (plural). The first refers primarily to the missio Dei (God’s mission), that is, God’s self-revelation as the One who loves the world, God’s involvement in and with the world, the nature and activity of God, which embraces both the church and the world, and in which the church is privileged to participate. Missio Dei enunciates the good news that God is a God-for-people. Missions (the missiones ecclesiae: the missionary ventures of the church), refer to particular forms, related to specific times, places or needs, of participation in the missio Dei.
The church-in-mission…is not identical with God’s reign yet not unrelated to it either; it is ‘a foretaste of its coming, the sacrament of its anticipation in history.’ Living in the creative tension of, at all the same time, being called out of the world and sent into the world, it is challenged to be God’s experimental garden on earth, a fragment of the reign of God, having ‘the first fruits of the Spirit’ (Rom 8:23) as a pledge of what is to come (2 Cor 1:22).
2nd Tuesday Prayer and Worship (Tuesday, October 11, at 7 PM) – Join us for an evening of worship & prayer, in person or online, as we seek the Spirit’s leading in missions at Eastbrook
City Outreach Open House (Saturday, October 15, at 12 pm) – Stop by Holy Grounds to hear about our key city outreach efforts of the Bread of Healing and Food Pantry. From there we will take tours of both spaces and hear from key leaders and staff about the vision, heart, and hopes behind each of these important city ministries.
“But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” (Acts 1:8)
In the book of Acts we read about how the Holy Spirit set the early believers ablaze for the work of God. We encounter Peter, who courageously steps into the public square to preach the good news of life in Jesus Christ, and thousands come to believe Jesus is the Messiah. We see powerful people like Stephen, who speaks of Christ in the face of persecution, even though it ends up costing him his life. We hear about Philip, who shares across cultural and religious barriers to bring the Samaritans to Jesus. We even see an enemy of Christ and persecutor of the early Christians, Saul of Tarsus, become a passionate evangelist and bold church planter that we know as the Apostle Paul.
The book of Acts is an active book. The church is not stagnant, but moving. The church is engaged and alive, moving forward on mission by the power of the Holy Spirit. What does it look like when individual believers and church communities are activated by God for His work? Well, at the very least we can say that it is not easy to ignore a church that is activated.
But it’s important to give a little more attention to something we could miss here. While Acts is an active book, we also see two things in this story of the early Christians that clarify for us what does not fit with an activated church.
First, an activated church that truly follows Jesus cannot be apathetic. There are times when see find ourselves confronted with the many needs, challenges, and serious situations within the world, that we can become overwhelmed by it all. In the mass of it all, we sometimes shut down and turn away from the needs of the world. We may, instead, focus on our own lives and challenges without giving any thought to the world God loves. Essentially, we become apathetic. But activated churches and Christians are not apathetic. They are engaged with the needs of the world because God cares about people and the needs of the world. While no one church or Christian can address all the needs and challenges of the world, our faith will not give us permission to turn away. An activated church remains open-hearted to the world because God is an open-hearted and generous being.
Second, even though Acts shows us that an activated church is not apathetic but engaged, it also shows us that an activated church is not necessarily a busy church. There is a significant difference between being busy and being active. The early church was activated by the Holy Spirit to join in with God’s mission in a focused way. However, the early church was not meaninglessly busy, doing whatever came their way at any time. In fact, there were key moments where the early believers chose not to do some things or pursue some aspects of potential mission because of the Holy Spirit’s leading. Some of us misunderstand the missionary aspect of Christianity as a command to become busy for the kingdom. But an activated church replaces busyness with focused obedience. Some of us need to remember that God is not very interested in un-commanded work. Yes, God wants us to join in with His kingdom mission, but He does not want us to aimlessly rush around with whatever need or challenge captures our attention in the moment. In fact, what captures our attention may lead us away from the mission God has for us. As a mentor once shared with me: we may need to consider whether we are more in love with the work of the Lord than we are in love with the Lord of the work.
An activated church is not boringly apathetic to the world’s need nor frenziedly busy. An activated church is alive in the Holy Spirit, open-hearted to the world, and walking in obedience to the Living God.
This past weekend as part of our preaching series, “United,” with other churches I had the privilege of preaching at Kettlebrook Church. This final week of the series I expanded upon the statement that the church is called to live as one for the sake of the world. I explored the two halves of Ephesians 2 in order to look at the way God has made us one with Himself through Christ and also made us one new humanity together through Christ. I explored that portion of Scripture with some attention to the reality that, as Archbishop William Temple once said, “the church is the only organization that exists for the benefit of its non-members.”
You can find the message video and outline below, starting at 24:48. You can also view the entire series here. Join us for weekend worship in-person or remotely via Eastbrook at Home.