Monday, March 23, 2015

Focusing our Outreach

One of the cultural tendencies the Church needs to be aware of in our own particular context is the heavy pull of Consumerism. This is very dominant in our particular culture and in some churches has resulted in models of church and mission that look more like an entertainment and services provided model than the colony of heaven described in Scripture. One way this sometimes manifests itself is when the missions department of the church offers a menu-like buffet of mission partners for people to support financially. Often churches will try to have as many partners as possible in order to offer a larger menu for people to select from like the Cheesecake factory. This looks great from the surface but often times results in low impact for the kingdom of God.

More often it's focused partnerships in a few key areas that have more impact than when we offer a plethora of partnerships. We've seen this principle in every day life. The more the pressure, or impact, is spread out the less effect there is and the more focused that pressure becomes the more impact is felt. I once read that the pressure of the heel on a high heel shoe has the same amount of force in that one small area as an entire elephant's foot! Maybe you've seen people do fun demonstrations on a bed of nails where they lay on it and yet even when jumped on the nails do not pierce them. Ask those same people if they would take one nail with the same amount of force on it. They'd say no! The more focused our efforts, the more impact they will have.

We've recently begun making more effort to have a few key areas of focus geographically based on Acts 1:8 " 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." Jerusalem represents our immediate context and neighbors, which of course would be Satellite Beach. Judea represents a larger region which for us is Brevard County. Samaria represents somewhere close, but of a different culture which for us has become the Booker T. Washington neighborhood. Finally the ends of the earth for us means Haiti and also places where the Church is not able to flourish on its own with unreached people groups.

Not only are we focusing in geographically, but also philosophically as well. At the beginning of this year we had a sermon series reflecting a desire of our faith community to help not only with emergency needs, but with long term redevelopment and a hands up versus a hands out mentality. We're also focusing in most cases on partnerships that overlap with our faith community relationally, and have places that allow for us to be the Church, serving and caring for others, rather than purely transactional relationships where we simply send financial support. Of course we also, as the Church, want to partner where we are able in places that will not only serve others physically but also allow opportunity to share the hope we have in Jesus.

Using these guidelines we've begun finding some areas that fit our geographic and philosophical areas of focus, as well as places our church has been engaged historically. While we still have multiple partnerships beyond these, and encourage both life groups and individuals to go where they are called, here are some of the areas we hope to begin to have more intentional relationship as a church. In our immediate area we will continue to focus on the community at Sea Park Elementary and hope through a new military ministry to begin efforts with the community centered around Patrick Air Force Base. Our partnership through Love In The Name of Christ (Love INC) connects us with over 50 different churches in Brevard county who are all working collaboratively to reach our county. In the Booker T. Washington Neighborhood we continue to partner with Brevard Neighborhood Development Coalition (BNDC) and their DOCK after school program, Habitat For Humanity, and Project Light. Not only that, but our senior pastor Michael Carey and his wife Lynn Brockwell-Carey, the executive director of BNDC, have moved in partnership with Habitat for Humanity into this neighborhood themselves! Finally through focus with partners like Bethel Church in India and "JD" in "Narnia" (we use code words for this missionary's protection) we seek to fulfill the call to reach the ends of the earth. We continue our focus on redevelopment and Haiti through our partnership with CODEP and the Haiti Children Feeding program.

At the last congregational meeting I shared some of this with those afterwards who were interested in learning more about our direction with regards to outreach. As we continue to move into more intentional and focused relationships there will be adjustments. I encourage you to come speak to me and share any concerns or questions you may have in the process. You can email me at sweems@trinitywellsprings.com. If you'd like to get involved in volunteering our volunteer coordinator Carla Carson (ccarson@trinitywellsprings.com) can help.

I'm so thankful that we are a community, a church, that engages others and seeks to see His kingdom come not only on this campus, but in Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria and to the ends of the earth. I'm looking forward to see how we can be an impact in these places and in these lives where God has called us as His body to be at work.