From everything I have been reading and hearing lately I am beginning to learn the importance of being weak/humble when serving or being the messenger of God. A couple Sundays ago Pastor Brad began a series about grace and used this passage at some point in the message:
But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong. 2 Corinthians 12:9-10
I once read a history of the early church in which they described what they believed Paul may have looked like. Now growing up in church I had always heard about Paul and the great missionary that he was. Since he was such a great man I naturally imagined him as very charismatic, tall, and handsome. In much the same way that the western world has depicted Jesus in many films…that is, very western. But I remember being shocked at what I read in that book. They said that he was more than likely short, bald, and not so charming. I was amazed! Here was this great man that had changed the world but was never blessed with the physical characteristics of a great leader! So to me, this passage from Corinthians has a whole new meaning when I think of Paul. I think his physical attributes were probably one of his weaknesses (not to sound to shallow). But think about it, in our churches, as sad as it is, we know when beautiful people come in the door. They are usually greeted a little more and by more people than the not-so-pretty newcomers. I can just imagine that his physical stature did not help him much when he went to the synagogues to preach. He was probably largely ignored when he entered but God used him anyway! God could have used a beautiful tall person who attracted attention as soon as s/he walked into a building, but he didn’t. He would of appeared very weak in a room full of priests, but it was at those moments he was strong!
Wow! I cannot believe we have been here a year already! Yet, when I slow down and think about everything that has happened it seems hard to believe that it has only been 12 months. I have learned so much about what it means to do outreach in a community that you truly believe God wants to be a part of. For anyone not familiar with how we impact our community here in Spring Hill then I recommend reading the book Conspiracy of Kindness by Steve Sjogren. It is a paradigm shift in the way we approach evangelism and the community around us.
In honor of our year of service, Crosspoint is sending Amber and I to Disney for two days! We are excited and have already started planning out what we want to do. I think we narrowed it down to Animal Kingdom and Downtown Disney one day, and Magic Kingdom and Epcot the next! With plenty of time in between to laze around the resort and pool. Thank you so much to Crosspoint and the staff for this surprise!
So as we enter our second year here in Florida, I will be signing on for another year as an intern. I will have more of a leadership role within the Outreach ministry and teach alongside Wayne during Outreach meetings. Amber has completed her intern service and is instead going to volunteer a few hour a week to help Wayne out in the office.
We are very thankful for everything God has shown us here so far and we look forward to everything He has for us this next year!
On Thursday nights Amber and I have been leading a young twentysomethings small group. This past week was probably one of our best discussions/studies/whatever you want to call it. It was wonderful to have Brad, our SG pastor, and so many new friends there! They all really brought a lot to the table! The lesson was on substitutionary atonement (sa) and it quickly traced the beginnings of it in the Garden to the ultimate sa in Jesus. What was so great about it was that we kept questioning/exploring things that we would normally take for granted. Stuff like “What does justice really mean?.” Wasn’t what Jesus did more than justice? Something beyond and greater than justice? We ended up agreeing that grace and mercy is more than justice. Therefore, Jesus sacrifice cannot simply be categorized as only/just an act of justice, but is much more than that. Since that night the words of Donald Miller in Searching for God Knows What keep whispering to me, “Christ’s death, again, was not a technicality by which we are covered with grace, but rather a passionate and inconceivable act of kindness and altruism and love stemming from God’s desire to be reunited with His creation.”
This is a blog that Wayne wanted me to type up for the church website, so I thought I would post it here as well. It kind of gives you insight into the way that Crosspoint tries to reach out to Spring Hill.
Small Group + Coffee + Cookies = Outreach!
As most of you know, small groups are now in full swing and many of you have had the opportunity already this semester to reach out into our community in some act of kindness. We have made a huge commitment to find some way to serve Spring Hill every week this year and so far, in large part through small groups, we have been able to do so. I just want to say thanks to those who have jumped into this with us and if you are in a small group that has served so far then you rock! Hopefully this blog will be an encouragement to everyone involved in outreach, but especially those small groups who have not been able to serve yet!
Amber and I lead the college small group and back when timed jumped ahead we did our outreach project. Taking advantage of the lack of sleep everyone was about to get that night, we decided it would be fun to give everyone coffee for an extra jolt the next morning! So that Saturday our small group gave away single packets of Folgers Coffee outside three of the shopping centers along highway 50 and it was a blast! We would hand people the coffee with an outreach card and told them not to forget to set their clocks forward. People loved it! A lot of them look at us funny at first but then left either smiling or laughing. And, as always, we got the why question quite a bit. We simply told them “We just wanted to show you God’s love in a practical way, no strings attached, and we figured everyone could use some extra caffeine in the morning.” Some people asked more questions and some did not, and that is ok. Now we just have to trust that the Holy Spirit is working in their lives and that He used that interaction to speak into their lives.
This week we also baked cookies. Our small group actually meets in an apartment complex and many of the neighbors see this big group of college kids coming around every week. So we decided to bake cookies for everyone in the apartment complex and invite them to celebrate Easter this Sunday! While the girls cooked, Jonathon Lamb and I delivered. I love seeing the reaction on people’s faces when you give them a gift! People were genuinely thankful and surprised! Better yet, they now all know that we are there and some even expressed interest in coming to the group! It was a simple act, no pressure and no strings, yet we have faith that God spoke into those people’s lives and fulfilled His purpose (Isaiah 55:10-11).
The heart of our small groups must become a reflection of the heart of our church and our first core value is that people matter to God! All people! That means those inside of our walls and those outside. Lets stop waiting for them to come to us and lets take the love and grace of Jesus to them!
Since I began my internship at Crosspoint Church I have learned a lot about loving those outside of the church. Wayne has taught Amber and I so much about the church existing for those outside of its walls. For instance, a couple weeks ago when time changed our college small group went out into the community to hand out free coffee packets. We told them it was for some extra caffeine in the morning! We also gave them a card that read “We hope this small act of kindness brings some light into your day. Its our way of saying God loves you, no strings attached. Let us know if we can be of more assistance.” People really enjoyed it! Many of them laughed and were surprised.
Over Christmas I received Transforming Mission by David Bosch. The book is enormous so I skipped to the good parts that I wanted to read! One section is about churches becoming more missional, in their actions and theology (missional is certainly a buzz word today, but this book was written in the early 90s by a guy from South Africa, so that makes it even more interesting!). Bosch notes the there is an emerging shift in the way the church approaches mission. Instead of missions being something that the church sends people to do, it is becoming what the church is. He claims that today the “church is not the sender but the one sent.” We are being sent not to comfort ourselves and better ourselves, but be a light in our own communities. One that is the source of love, justice, and forgiveness. A humble entity where community is authentic and always accepting. Dietrich Bonhoeffer wrote from prison, “The church is the church only when it exists for others.” That means we must find creative, loving ways to be a light in our community. Many times we have the attitude that people should come to us instead of us going to/finding them. The church should not be so arrogant but rather imitate Jesus, who when a sheep went missing went out to find it at all costs.