I've been sketching this out in my journal for a few weeks now, sharing it with leadership, and finally this morning at our worship gathering I laid it out for everyone; a vision for our church's ministry to our community. This is a very simple paradigm that encompasses all that we are doing (in terms of outreach), and will be doing in the future, as we seek to be faithful to the mission of God in the Fox Valley. Nothing new here. This is basic stuff, but putting it together like this helps us to see the big ministry picture and moves us forward in practical ways without having to rely on ministry programs. The paradigm uses a circle, a triangle and a square to communicate each ministry realm. The Table - a domestic ministry. The table represents the Christian home, and more specifically the home as the center for hospitality. This is the most accessible, customizable, and perhaps most critical ministry our people can engage in. It places our people in an active posture allowing them to demonstrate grace and kindness to their neighbors through an informal meal. It gives "outsiders" a chance to see the gospel lived out where people are real - home. Even if the gospel is not explicitly shared, it will be visible in healthy or healing marriages, children raised in loving and disciplined homes, and in our authentic concern for community. Having people in our homes enables us to build relationships that afford opportunities to minister to people in word and deed.
Each family at Redeemer Fellowship is encouraged to welcome the unchurched/unconverted into their homes on a regular basis; perhaps once a month. If every family builds this into their home life it will make healthy connections between our neighbors and our church families.
The Pulpit - a liturgic ministry The pulpit represents the gathered church where teaching/preaching is central. This of course relates primarily to our Sunday gathering, but also to our small groups. These are distinctly Christian gatherings where the gospel and God's word is clearly and practically taught.
Our people are encouraged to do two things: invite others to these gatherings to seek God with us, and help make these gatherings as profitable as possible by serving in any one of a variety of capacities as there are needs/opportunities (nursery, children's ministry, ushers, etc.)
The Square - a civic ministry The square represents the town square; specifically the church's cultural engagement outside of the first two ministry realms. This square ministry takes the form of participation, dialog, and service. Local, community events should be attended, community needs should be addressed, and community questions should be answered by God's people.
At Redeemer this happens through our English as a Second Language classes, our popular Clothes Closet ministry, and will expand through more dialogical ministries that are currently in development. At this stage, everyone is encouraged to get out, be regulars at local establishments, and participate in the community God has sent us to with an aim at introducing people to the gospel.
Much more needs to be said, and in the coming weeks I will expand on these ideas in practical ways for the people at Redeemer Fellowship.