Rev. Chris Snow
North HIll Christian Church
October 10, 2021
As we are making our way through a month long series on stewardship, we started with an emphasis on self care. Of how we care for ourselves but also those within the local congregation. It is important that we not stay only in that mindset. While self care is important it is not the only way in which we are to express our faith. We are called to leave the comforts of our local church to serve where we are called. To help those in need and declare the good news of the Kingdom through our attitude and where welcomed a sharing of the gospel.
I was taught from a young age that what the church is, is so much more than what happens inside the building. Instead what we do outside of the building says a great deal about what we learn to believe inside of the building. This concept went as far as hearing and remembering the phrase, “Spreading the gospel from our doorsteps to the ends of the earth.” As I continually heard this phrase, most likely provided from a general ministry resource, I held onto this idea that the outward ministry of the church begins once we take that first step outside of the church doors. That moment in which we are directed to take what we believe and put it into action in the wider community.
I hear the trepidation in the minds of the followers of Jesus as they are told in Luke 10, to go forth and declare the good news. Go forth and do what you have been taught. Go forth without a safety net, to do what I have shown you.
We have this trepidation when we are told to go out into the community and do what you have been taught. Go forth as a child who has been instructed to love your neighbor as yourself. Go forth as someone, aware of the brokenness in the world and help bring healing for you have the power. Go forth and bring hope as you declare the good news of the Kingdom of God.
I can imagine the questions of the followers. Where do we start? What problem to we tackle first? What community should we go to? Seeking direction on how to even begin.
Jesus told the 70, of how they were to do ministry. By curing the sick who are present. To receive the hospitality that they find. And in being present among the people who have welcomed you, declare that the Kingdom of God has come near.
The ministries that we are engaged in, have arisen out of discernment of God’s call upon our congregation, recognition of the needs of our wider community, and the relationships that we have with our ministry partners. Whenever I am asked about a new possibility of ministry for our congregation I have these words in the back of my mind from our mission statement, “we are a people responding to God’s call, building whole community, reflecting Chirst through our actions, and living into the reign of God.”
With these words at the forefront of my mind, I recognize that there is a broad range of ministries that are possible. A range that spans from delivering meals with Meals on Wheels to providing citizenship classes in partnership with World Relief.
Knowing that there is tremendous need within our wider community there is always the question of what is possible for us? As God has gifted us each with different gifts for ministry and different passions we are mindful of a need to prayerfully discern what is reasonable with God’s guidance. At times this means changing our relationships with various ministry partners. As our congregation’s ability to serve has changed over the years we recognized that it was not reasonable to be a host congregation for Family Promise, and yet we continue to remain in relationship with them as more specific needs arise. We also now partner with Transitions as we are able to collect clothing supplies for the individuals and families in need.
As I have the availability, I show up in gatherings, such as the Spokane Homeless Coalition. I am able to show up in meetings and work groups as I seek to faithfully represent this congregation’s understanding of who God is calling us to be.
In many of our ministry partnerships there is a commitment of bringing forth donations, or energies in service. But we also commit to financially support these ministry partners. As we have heard of needs from our citizenship class for flash cards and workbooks, we have stepped up as a board to approve the use of ministry funds.
As we recognize that while there is great need within our world, we as one local congregation don’t have the reach to create change, and yet we partner with our larger church at the regional and general level to support the ministry programs that declare the Kingdom of God has come near on our behalf.
By setting aside part of our general budget each year to go towards Bushnel University, (formerly NCU) to the Regional church, and the General Church, we make a commitment to support those ministry partners with whom we are in relationship with so that their ministries are our ministries as well.
By supporting Bushnel University we are supporting higher education that helps to develop church leaders for the next generation. In supporting the Regional church we support those ministries that help our congregations remain connected and supporting one another in times of celebration and in times of struggle. By supporting the General Church we support those general ministries that reach all the way around the world declaring the Kingdom of God.
Even though we may look out into the wider community with trepidation about where to begin in ministry, we are not alone in this journey. God continues to guide us through times of discernment. We continue to be impacted by those relationships in our community that welcome us as partners and see the possibilities for change to be realized.
It is through constant discernment around our ministries that we seek to be good stewards of our resources. By not over reaching ourselves and the resources that we have to offer. But also recognizing that as we partner with others that we are able to magnify the effect of ministries that we are passionate about from our doorsteps to the ends of the earth.