by Kevin Kindelin
I’ve always wondered about my place, my purpose on this earth. What am I doing here? Am I doing anybody any good or am I just taking up oxygen? Sure, I tend to be a little overly self-critical, but I think anyone with a conscience has similar thoughts. In an effort to justify my “goodness,” I give of myself to the church whatever time and talent I can afford. As I became more involved with our church over time, I think I started becoming a little self-satisfied, even a bit smug with myself. “Hey man, I’m an elder; I write stuff sometimes. I’m holding up my end!” I’ll even confess to having Pharisee–like thoughts…“At least I’m not like that other guy. I go to church.”
When I was asked to write this article, I felt a bit of a wake up call. It’s not enough that I’m a wonderful little Christian within the walls of Immanuel. It’s not enough that I feel a genuine fellowship with my fellow Immanuelites. (Is that even a word?) It’s not enough that I delight in the presence of my fellow Christians. Isn’t all that pretty much preaching to the choir? Didn’t Jesus tell us to take it to the people, to go out as lambs among wolves, to share His Word? It’s not easy to obey that command though, is it? When was the last time you shared your faith with someone outside of Immanuel, someone who might not be a Christian?
“Joining Jesus on His Mission” (JJHM) is an initiative that will be a part of the main message at Backpacks, Barbecue, and Blessings (BBB) on August 18. Our overall theme at BBB will be continuing to celebrate our 150th Anniversary and its motto of “Living a Legacy of Faith.” To live that legacy and truly join Him on His mission, we need to know how. The concept of JJHM will be introduced, books will be made available, and small groups will begin to form. The following week, we will have the author of the book and concept of JJHM, Rev. Greg Finke, come out to launch JJHM; and he will be our guest preacher at all services that weekend.
Pastor Warren explained the plan, “Our goal is to use JJHM as a catalyst to help equip the people of Immanuel to live out their faith, by gaining a missional concept of their lives as individuals and as a church, so that they feel better equipped to have faith-oriented discussions with the people (neighbors, coworkers, family) in their lives.” Workshops are being planned for the weekend of August 24th and 25th to help the congregation learn more about JJHM. Rev. Finke will also lead the Sunday morning bible study with this topic in order to continue to provide more information about living our faith by Joining Jesus on His Mission. Pastor Warren said he hopes to have small group facilitators identified by then and to begin forming groups with days and times to meet.
On the weekend of September 7 and 8, we will begin the Sermon and Small Group series of JJHM. The preaching series will be a seven-week series on a variety of topics based on Scripture and Rev. Finke’s book. The Small Group Series is a ten-session series that also comes with a video curriculum where Greg Finke leads the discussion with a 5-10 minute video for each session.
Pastor Warren went on to emphasize, “Our goal is to engage our entire Immanuel community, both Church and School, to participate in this series so that our entire Immanuel family can activate their faith and truly live the Legacy of their Faith by Joining Jesus on His Mission. We not only hope to have Church Family Small Groups, but also School Family Small Groups. We hope to engage this material with our youth, in both the church and school, as well as have our Ministry Staff and teachers participate as well. Our prayer is for engagement and for our church to utilize this series to change their lives to become strong disciples of Jesus.”
When it comes right down to it, there isn’t enough any of us can do to gain God’s favor. Oddly enough, He gives it to us by grace. This JJHM thing certainly sounds like a commitment, but I think I–we–owe it to Him to do as He commands. We’re supposed to spread His good word, but it’s not an easy task to evangelize. I’m willing to commit a little more time and thought in order to acquire a few more tools I can use in my efforts to share my faith. I’m not exactly the shy type, and I’m quite comfortable sharing Jesus with those I know, but stepping outside of that comfort zone and sharing what it really means to be a Christian with someone who doesn’t think the same way is something I can learn more about. You know, after writing this article, I’m not so smug anymore.