In January of this year we as a congregation adopted new mission and vision statements. With memorial stones we pledged ourselves to live out the mission and vision that the Lord led us to adopt. We have made it our mission that “Together we love God through worship and service.” We have made it our vision for the future that “We will love God through joyful & reverent worship, consistent prayer, and teaching His powerful truth.” And “We will love God by serving our community, encouraging Christ-like relationships, and nurturing the faith of fellow believers.” The question that we’re answering now is: How can we best live out our mission and vision as individuals and as a congregation? I believe the fundamental way we make our mission and vision a reality is by living out the gospel within our hearts, in our church community, and in the wider world.
As we begin our new ministry season this fall, I believe it’s fundamentally important that we reflect together on how to live out the good news of Jesus personally (in our own lives), communally (as a church body), and missionally (as witnesses for Christ in our world). A tool that will help us do that is a small group and sermon study of Timothy Keller’s Gospel in Life: Grace Changes Everything. I first learned about this study in my classis interactions with Rev. Gerry Koning, the Senior Pastor at Trinity CRC in Grandville. Trinity Church has been going through a revisioning process just like our congregation. They went through Gospel in Life as a congregation a year or so ago and found it to be very helpful in their own congregation’s journey of discerning God’s path for them. I’m excited about the impact that this study will have on our own congregation.
Gospel in Life is an eight-session course on how the gospel is lived out in all of life—first in your heart, then in your community, and then out into the world. Each week during morning worship I’ll preach a message on the theme from each chapter and during that week small groups will watch a video of that theme and study the corresponding chapter of the study book. I know that one of our weekly Bible studies plans to use the book during the first couple months of the ministry year. Others will participate in small groups formed for this study. The sermon series and study will begin on Sunday, September 9, and conclude on Sunday, November 11 (with a break on October 28 and November 4 for Mission Emphasis Week).
Session 1 opens the course with the theme of the City: our home now, the world that is. Session 8 closes the course with the theme of the Eternal City: our heavenly home, the world that is to come. In between we’ll look at how the gospel changes our heart (sessions 2 and 3), changes our community (sessions 4 and 5), and changes how we live in the world (sessions 6 and 7).
Please make sure to sign up for the course by Sunday, September 2, so we know how many books and videos will need to be ordered. I pray for the Lord’s blessing upon us as we seek to better live out the gospel everywhere as Christians and as a church.