2 Comments

You Won't Believe This Example Of A Missional Church

You Won't Believe This Example Of A Missional Church

The Bridge Foursquare Church chose to “adopt their city”, offering to provide volunteers to help the City of Rancho Santa Margarita in any way, at any time it was needed. The city, citing ‘separation of church and state’, said “No”. So, the church kept offering.

Months went by with members of the Bridge continuing to drop in on the city offices and offer their help—no strings attached. Eventually, the City had a need for volunteers and asked the Bridge to help. All 35 adult members of the church showed up and served (I think it was a building dedication), without wearing The Bridge t-shirts, without passing out Come Worship with Us! cards, without hanging a banner with the church location and service times.

Members of the Bridge did nothing to promote themselves. They came to serve their city -- with no strings attached – and they did.

Several weeks later, the city had another need and contacted the Bridge for help. In the years that have passed, the Bridge (now several hundred strong) is an integral part of every community event in Rancho Santa Margarita.

A few years after completing the reFocusing process, I attended the city’s Fourth of July celebration. The Bridge provided live music (mostly secular), handed out bottles of water, and served in a multitude of ways.

A City Councilmember told me (essentially): “I don’t know where our city would be without the Bridge. They have contributed massively to this community in ways we can never repay.”

Serving the Community

One year, the elders decided to give a financial gift to their city. They prayed and mailed a check to City Hall. It was returned. The city cited ‘separation of church and state’ and remarked that no church had ever given financially to their city.

Undeterred, church leaders inquired about how they might give to the city. An employee suggested that if they were put on the agenda at a City Counsel meeting and explained their motivations maybe the city would accept the gift.

They arrived to find the normally empty City Council Chambers packed with hundreds of angry residents who were berating the Council about something that had taken place at a local school. In the midst of the vitriol, the Bridge was invited to speak. Humbly, they asked the City to receive the check as an expression of the church’s gratitude for the city —nothing more. Against the backdrop of residents rage the offer was stunning. You could hear a pin drop, I was told. Within moments someone clapped, then another, until the crown gave a standing ovation to the joy of Council members. Only God could have set this up!

Oh, by the way, many city employees have come to faith in Christ and attend the Bridge today.

2 Comments

1 Comment

Praying For Help And Planning For Love

I drove through the streets of the city alone last night. I looked at lights, at people, at cars and at buildings. I appreciate cities.  I remember a text in the Scripture that recounts how Jesus looked at the city and was moved with compassion. In fact, Matthew, one of Jesus’ close followers penned these words to describe Jesus’ activity, passion, compassion and future vision… Then Jesus made a circuit of all the towns and villages. He taught in their meeting places, reported kingdom news, and healed their diseased bodies, healed their bruised and hurt lives. When he looked out over the crowds, his heart broke. So confused and aimless they were, like sheep with no shepherd. “What a huge harvest!” he said to his disciples. “How few workers! On your knees and pray for harvest hands!”

As I drive through the city I watch and wonder about the people. I wonder what my life will mean in reflection of the human condition.  People tell me all the time, because of my position as a church leader, what a great thing I do.  Well, as I look at, it is outside my position that matters most.  How do I do there?  I was having a conversation earlier today with a friend and they asked this question, “Aren’t we alive to touch people and show love?”  Yes, is the answer.  We are alive to touch people and show love.

How can I love driving through the city?  For me it is similar to Jesus’ love.  Those I connect with, I touch.  I touch them with a message – God wants to rule in your life by love.  I touch them with comfort.  The word disease tells me that the people around me are at dis-ease.  Some of their dis-ease is physical, some is emotional, some is relational and some is spiritual.  I am to heal disease. I have that capacity…it is the capacity to replace the dis-ease with comfort.  Some have bruised and hurt lives. Circumstances, influences, decisions, people, other factors, have conditioned them to a way of life that is cautious, protective, fearful, isolated and alone. For those I must bring whatever is necessary for wholeness – spirit, soul and body.  Now, how do I shape my mission and my leadership to reflect this?

Sometimes I feel selfish; I feel like a failure; I feel overwhelmed.  It is in those times that I take the next step in making a difference – I ask for help!  From around me and from above.  I realize that I am not only a pray-er of that prayer, but I am the answer to that prayer.  As someone else is praying for help, I am praying for help to be a help.  I am not alone in this mission, but the mission might not happen if I, alone, do not lead.  As Richard Seel said, “Unless the paradigm at the heart of an organization is changed, there will be no lasting change.

So, why do I write this?  Because you might just be my help and I might just be yours.  We are potential partners in touching lives, healing hurts, sharing love and making a difference.  We are also smart enough to know we cannot do it alone. That is the essence of community mission.  It is the primary reason every local church exists – to be the cumulative presence of Jesus in the city.  But, most churches, unlike Jesus whose presence they are there to manifest, just stay home.  We clean our toilets, manicure our lawn, paint our walls and make our beds.

When we do go up or down the street, we will see the people…confused, aimless, without a leader or anyone to care.  We are moved with compassion, a passion to extend to these beautiful, wonderful, creations of God a community of love, a kingdom of grace and a relationship of care. We are the Jesus in this picture. The Spirit of God inspired the words that said, “You are the body of Christ,” “You have the mind of Christ,” “Heal the sick, raise the dead, freely you have received, freely give.”

Jesus said, “What I do you will do and even greater things will you do.”

So, next time you are alone on a drive, or a walk, look around.  You are not there by accident.  See the need right there on the surface of the street.  Touch the people outside your doors and windows. Pray for help. Plan for love.

It’s time…go for a drive.

1 Comment