When you consider where you were born, where you have lived, and where you live now…do you think God has been in control of that? How about his providence over where you work, where you go to school, or what street you live on?
To the exiles of his day, Jeremiah captured the words of God, “…seek the welfare of the city where I have sent you into exile, and pray to the Lord on its behalf, for in its welfare you will find your welfare” (29:7). Notice God reminds them that he had sent them to this new place, and he reminds them that he had a purpose for them in that place.
Fast forward to 2014…Why has God put us (as individuals and as a church) where he has? As a church, we understand our mission this way, “Mercy Hill Church exists to bring glory to God and affect gospel change by gathering God’s people and growing them to be like Jesus.” We long to be used by God to affect gospel change. One of the significant ways we will do that is by gathering God’s people. And we do that by having a passion for those in our lives who do not yet believe in Jesus Christ – a passion to have a gospel presence for the sake of having gospel proclamation.
We’ve stated this passion this way…
Our passion for unbelieving people will find its fruit in evangelism and outreach. Our evangelism will be Gospel-proclaiming, hope-giving, relationally-based, enduring, and empowered by the Holy Spirit. Our outreach will be Christ-motivated, justice-pursuing, needs-meeting, compassionate, generous and sacrificial.
When we think about our evangelism, we can think in two categories: “come and hear” (attractional) and “go and tell” (missional/incarnational). In the “come and hear” aspect, the church invites people to come to where we are (at church, in our small group) and hear the gospel. We would desire to attract them to come to us. In the “go and tell” aspect the church focuses on sending her people out to go and be where people are (where we live; where we go to school; where we work), bringing the gospel to them.
Mercy Hill will definitely lean strongly on the “go and tell” side of evangelism – encouraging and preparing our folks to go and tell. And yet we understand that there will always be a “come and hear” dynamic, so we will have a worship service that is accessible and understandable to people, create a warm and welcoming atmosphere, and not shy away from weaving the true gospel throughout our songs, prayers, and sermons.
Our prayer is that our evangelism, our speaking of the love of Jesus, will be…
- Gospel-proclaiming. Because to become followers of Jesus, people must hear the Good News, “faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the Word…” There are many false gospels, many “works-based” or “man-centered” gospels, so we want to intentionally speak of the true, “God-centered” gospel…“For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly” (Romans 5:6).
- Hope-giving. Because we have words of real hope, we have GOOD news to share: “good news of great joy” as the angels announced at Jesus’ birth.
- Relationally-based. Because in most cases, God uses people to be a conduit of the gospel to other people. Again, a focus on “go and tell” instead of “come and hear.”
- Enduring. Because a person’s path to faith in Jesus is most often not a quick “in and out” process. We want to encourage faithful, enduring relationships of love and truth over the long haul.
- Empowered by the Holy Spirit. Because ultimately, it is God’s work to save. We must define success for us in evangelism as faithfulness to proclaim; not the number of people that were “converted” when we spoke.
When we consider the nature of our outreach, our showing of the love of Jesus to those in our lives, we pray that it will be characterized by being…
- Christ-motivated. Because we are not just a social service agency, we love and serve people for Jesus’ sake. They are made in the image of God, worthy of our love and service, and we are hoping to see Jesus impact their lives through us.
- Justice-pursuing. Because there are real wrongs in our culture that need to be righted. We will pursue justice for the unborn, those incapable of pursuing it for themselves, those unfairly demeaned because of race, ability, etc.
- Needs-meeting. Because real people have real needs, we will seek to learn what those needs are (not to define the needs we think people should have) and by God’s grace and provision meet the needs we can.
- Compassionate. Because we understand that to love without action is pointless, and to act without love is heartless, our desire is to wed our love for people with action on their behalf. That is true compassion.
- Generous. Because we desire to reflect the heart of God, we will strive to be generous, overflowing with others as he has overflowed with us in Jesus.
- Sacrificial. Because, again, we desire to reflect the heart of God, his amazing sacrifice for us seen most clearly in the cross of Jesus.
Because we desire to have a passion for unbelieving people, we will ask ourselves regularly: “Do we love the people around us?” Do we love them enough to bring the gospel to bear in the every days of life, in word and deed – faithfully being the presence of Jesus, so that we can proclaim Jesus?
Link: Our 5 Passions