First of all, let me take this opportunity to say again how much Nan and I were blown away by your kindness and generosity last Sunday in giving us a trip to Haiti. We are once again overwhelmed by your love and support, and feel so very blessed to be a part of such a giving church family. There are still so many details for us to work out, with our family’s schedules here as well as those in Haiti, but it’s nice to have the opportunity to get out of our comfort zone and go do missions in such a needy area.
More than anything, it’s such a joy to be a part of a mission-focused church that takes seriously the Great Commission and Great Commandment, both locally and around the world. I was just thinking of what a “slice of life” has looked like at Shelby Crossings in the past week or so. Last Sunday–the very day you gave us our trip to Haiti–we heard a challenging testimony from two ladies who followed God’s call to go on a recent mission trip to Swaziland, Africa. That same day, we had a couple of recently married college students with us who had returned from a summer of mission work in Rwanda.
On Tuesday night, a group from our church made their way to downtown Birmingham once again to serve dinner to the homeless men of the Firehouse Shelter. It wasn’t across the ocean, but it was truly living out kingdom ministry to “the least of these,” just as our Master commanded us to do.
Before this week ends, we’ll have two other college students returning from separate mission trips to Haiti, and another eight members of the Shelby Crossings family heading to London on a mission trip to work with e3 Partners and Global Europe Mission to share the gospel there during the Olympics. And then on Sunday, we’ll “commission” our own college pastor and his wife as they step out on faith to move to Chicago this week to plant a church there.
Yes, this may be a bit of an exceptional week, but in some ways it’s just a picture of who we are–at least I hope that’s true. As Emil Brunner famously once said, “The church exists by mission just as fire exists by burning.” That is, a church that is not “on mission” is, well, whatever it is, it’s not really being a church. When we cease to be missional in our theology and our methodology, in how we think and in what we do, then we stop functioning as the New Testament church. We’re merely a social club, interested only in our own comfort and well-being. And that doesn’t look anything like the Biblical picture of the Body of Christ.
All of us have a role in our being a mission-focused body, whether it’s going, praying, giving or just living the Gospel on your block every day. Thanks be to God that we’re doing that a little more each day. And thanks to each of you for your obedience in following Jesus.
I do count it a privilege to serve you–and serve with you–as the pastor of such a great church. I’m praying for you, and I look forward to seeing each of you on Sunday.