Church Ministry,  Faith Reflections

A Sent Church

I don’t know if I can honestly say I’ve ever been more proud to be a member of the family of First Baptist Church, Jefferson City, then I was this past Sunday. That is saying a lot because I’ve had many moments where I’ve been humbled and proud of FBCJC. Like any of the multitude of mission trips we take to go support our partners and to visit our “extended family” in the Dominican Republic, Kenya, Belarus and South Dakota. I’m been touched when I’ve walked into a hospital waiting room only to find an entire Sunday School class already present and ministering to their friends. I’ve been overwhelmed with the generous offering we receive each month for benevolence that allows us to help individuals and families stay in their homes or keep the electricity on. I’ve beamed when I see our church members advocate for the rights of the economical disadvantaged in our community. I’m humbled every time I see a mentor from our church pouring 45 minutes of his or her week into a child who is flourishing under the love and attention.

Breakfast and Commissioning Service
Breakfast and Commissioning Service

But this past Sunday was one of the most beautiful images of church that I’ve seen in my thirteen years on staff at FBC.
On Sunday, our church held its first “Mission JC: In the City. For the City.” For over a year, we have talked about how the church is a sent people. The people of God sent into the neighborhood and the world to seek justice and mercy and to walk humbly with our God.  The church is not a building. The church is not the facilities at the corner of Capitol and Monroe. The church is not a 45-minute program with singing, offering, prayers and a message.  The church is a SENT people – just as Jesus was SENT.  And on Sunday, we sent nearly 300 volunteers into our beloved city to serve and to share God’s love.
There were over 20 projects ranging from painting, landscaping, food giveaways, free breakfast, block party, care packages for police, fire and sheriff stations, thank you notes to nonprofits in our community who we have the honor to serve alongside, care packages to the staff of our partner elementary school, meals prepared and delivered to homebound individuals, community garden work, walking animals at the shelter, and so much more.
A sea of red shirts gathered in the morning for a brief breakfast, worship and devotion before pouring out into the city. That morning commissioning time was a send off.  A blessing over a people who were SENT to be salt and light.
Each week when we gather for worship or Bible study we should view it in the same way. A send off. A blessing and a challenge to a people who are SENT to be Christ Jesus each day of the week in every part of their lives – their work, their homes, their neighborhoods, their relationships.
Somehow we have reversed things over the years. The focus has become Sunday, the gathering in a building, a litany of programs where we expect to be fed or motivated or consoled or affirmed. We want the music we like and the sermon to not go too long. We want the Word to affirm us, not transform us.  We turn inward and when we turn inward, we can no longer reflect the Light out to the world that is desperate for It to break into their darkness.
But this past Sunday – the church was radiant. Light illuminated the community. Salt was spread throughout the city.
It was a wonderful beginning to what I pray is a growing and deepening love relationship between FBCJC and the city where God has placed us.  We are in the city. More importantly, we are FOR the city. We love you, Jefferson City. We are honored to be a part of this community. Although sometimes it may appear (sometimes deservedly) that Christians are against those who do not believe or think or live as they do, we want you to know that we are for you. We stand with you and we care about you – our neighbors.
My prayer is that God will use Mission JC to help transform FBCJC more into the bride God desires. A bride that doesn’t see Sunday as the destination but rather the launch – the springboard that sends us out each week into the city with hearts full of love, eyes that truly see and hands ready to serve and embrace our beloved city and neighbors.
Here is a video report from KRCG13.

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3 Comments

  • Roger Hatfield

    This does not happen without vision to make a difference in people’s lives. Our job is not to reap but sow, plant, invest, sweat so God can be honored and valued and lifted up. Kudos to everyone involved for an incredibly positive event in so many ways. Sen’t? ….yes we are, now, today, every day. It is not about us.
    Sunday was a great reminder…..

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