Greetings from the mysteriously hot beginning of Autumn in Memphis!
In 1 Corinthians 16:9, Paul writes to the people of Corinth about how much he wishes he could come visit them but God had opened a “wide door for effective work” in Ephesus he just could not ignore.
We see in the letters of Paul a man who is persistent and steadfast in his ministry. He is faithful in the face of great resistance to plant seeds of grace and spread the good news of salvation in Jesus to many different people and cultures. A close reading of Paul shows us that there are many times where no matter how hard he tries, some people just won’t listen. I think all too often we overly romanticize the women and men who first followed Jesus. It’s easy to think the early church just spread like wildfire with little difficulty.
As followers of Jesus, our mission is very clear. As we are made new in Christ, we are to mirror his love and be his voice, hands, and feet to everyone we can. The beautiful thing about our wonderful creator is He has chosen to use our unique and particular gifts and passions to be the primary means of living out this mission.
As a church community, our mission is to come together in community to worship Him and continually seek to invite people into community where they can experience the love of God and be equipped and supported as we live out our mission together.
Ministry as individuals and as a community can be really difficult. It can be scary giving of our time and even breaking out of our comfort zones to minister to others. In a church, it can be difficult trying to decipher how to best reach others in a culture where people are no longer normally inclined to go to church. It is easy to go long periods without feeling like we are making an impact at all even when we are faithful.
However, Paul clearly knew that there are times in ministry where we all of a sudden find ourselves standing in front of a wide door of opportunity we can’t ignore. Sometimes in our personal ministry, as well as in our church community, we have a unique opportunity to see the fruit of ministry at a faster rate than usual.
I truly believe, we at First Church, are at the threshold of a wide door God is opening for us. When we are able to open the new sanctuary in 2018, I am convinced we will have a unique opportunity we will not have again in most of our life times. I believe people who are not presently attending church and people who are newly moving to downtown will be more open to our invitations to come and see what God is doing than they have for a long time.
While it is very exciting to have a new sanctuary, what will be most exciting is the incredible life changing events and moments that will take place in that space. We must take very seriously the responsibility that is ours and invite everyone we can to not merely attend church but to become a part of the community (Oikos) God is building up in us!
Grace and Peace, Andy