The blessings of outward-focused ministry
Having more than 10,000 bikers show up outside our building brings up some interesting ministry opportunities: A cousin who didn’t believe a Christian Reformed Church could be that welcoming; Bro Paul witnessing to a local biker club leader; meal and worship shared with our Roadhouse partners. But Oyster Run also illustrates the essential moves of outward focused ministry in the twenty-first century— from building to mission field. Bringing the gospel to bear on real needs in our community means taking that gospel to where the needs are.
The question used to be: “How do we get the unsaved into our building?” But as I was dreaming about outreach with our deacons, it became clear that reaching out would mean going to senior centers, schools, and the Red Cross. If reaching bikers, we’d have to learn about protocol; if reaching unchurched twenty-somethings we’d have to learn to appreciate the indie music scene and good coffee. Or, as Paul put it:
To the weak I became weak, to win the weak. I have become all things to all men so that by all possible means I might save some. I do all this for the sake of the gospel, that I may share in its blessings.
(1 Corinthians 9:22-23)
We are becoming pretty good about serving and loving each other, and to that Paul would say, “Yet we urge you, brothers, to do so more and more.” (1 Thessalonians 4:10) But the next blessing, our next step of corporate obedience, will come when we take that same love to our community. Because as much as God loves those who are already in the church, that much he loves those not-yet worshipers to whom he sends his church.
Even after ten years of ministry in Anacortes, I’m still not sure which of the many outreach opportunities will be ours, for which need the Spirit has particularly gifted and resourced our ACRC family. That is the challenge I have given our deacons – to lead us into this “all things to all men” ministry so that we can build the kingdom and share in its blessings.
With you in the mission, Pastor Doug Fakkema, Anacortes CRC