For my column this month, I am using the Epilogue from the book we will be studying for the month of August. I want everyone to have some idea of the intention behind the sermon series and study, and why it is important. You will/did receive a copy of the book, Get Their Name, on July 30 at the close of worship and I encourage you to read it and then participate in the discussions that will take place during your small group time. As always, I welcome your ideas for how we can be our best at sharing God’s love with new people.
Grace and peace,
EPILOGUE (from “Get Their Name” by Bob Farr, Doug Anderson, and Kay Kotan, pg. 103-105)
The idea of reaching people we do not know is not a Farr, Kotan, Anderson idea. The idea of reaching people we do not know for the sake of Jesus Christ is inherently a biblical idea. One of the Bible’s themes is that God wants to reach people. And throughout history, God has always used people to reach other people. God is not an isolated God. God thrives in community. The very nature of God is the Trinity. Three in one. One in three. Community and mystery. Let us walk through the Bible briefly to identify this theme of reaching new people.
Genesis 1: God created people, called them good, and blessed them with abundance. God wants good things for all people.
Genesis 3: We human beings always think we know better. And we decide it is all about us. Otherwise known as the great fall or the great sin.
Genesis 7: God creates a new thing. We called it the great flood. Noah is selected to do a new thing and raise up new people.
Genesis 12: God selects Abraham to do a new thing and raise up new people.
1 Kings 10: God selects kings, the most famous of whom are David and Solomon, to do a new thing and raise up a new people.
Isaiah 49: This tine God sends prophets, some of them minor and some of them major, to shout into the desert, to do a new thing and raise up a new people because the people have not listened.
Luke 2: God takes a radical step and sends God’s only begotten son. To do what? To do a new thing and raise up a new people.
Matthew 16: Jesus does pretty well until he attends the finance committee meeting and tells them he is going to do a new thing and raise up a new people. The people in power decide no way! They did what people always do and made it all about them. They forgot the mission. They took matters into their own hands. Within three weeks, Jesus is dead on the tree.
Matthew 28: Jesus comes back to everyone’s surprise and tells them to go into all the world and do a new thing and raise up a new people.
Acts 9 and Ephesians 2: The clergy have decided it is all about them. They forget the mission. And they determine this new thing is only for the Jewish Christians. But the Apostle Paul and the Holy Spirit remind everyone that all are missionaries and all are gifts of God. We call this the priesthood of all believers. It is about the mission.
Revelation 5: At the end of the day, it is God’s desire that every people and all persons come home to God. Every knee bows and every tongue confesses that Jesus Christ is Lord and Savior.
In this quick skimming of the Bible, you will notice a theme. God wants to reach new people and do a new thing. You also will notice that about every give hundred years or so, God has to raise up a new people to do a new thing because those who had been handed the mantle decided it was all about them and forgot the mission.
Just for a moment, think back five hundred years. Where does that place us? In the Protestant Reformation! God raised up a man named Luther and told him to do a new thing and raise up a new people. The Protestant Reformation produced our mainline denominations. So here we are with all the old methods not working and a very inwardly focused church. And we believe God is trying to raise up a new people to do a new thing.
Are you willing to be in the new movement, to be a new people, to do a new thing? Are you willing to put a candle on the light stand for all to see and take it out from underneath the bushel basket where only those who know can see? Get their name. Start a conversation. Build an authentic relationship that leads to the possibility for a faith conversation that might lead someone into the faith community of God. Remember, God desperately loves you, and God desperately loves all the world. So, get their name! Write it down. Follow up. And go beyond creating new relationships between ourselves, others, God, and the community of faith. Never forget the mission: “to make (new!) disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world.”
It is our prayers that this book will be a helpful tool to get your church out of the building and into the mission field.
Bob, Doug, and Kay