What does Discipleship have to do with city transformation?
Imagine for a moment:
You've signed up for an hour slot at a 24-7 prayer room that your church or community that has committed to doing together for several days. You've signed up on the website and received a confirmation email for your time with a few instructions for how to get in when you arrive. You approach the different stations in the room and find yourself drawn to confess burdens you've been carrying in your heart to the Lord, and realize how heavy they have weighed on you. As the weight is lifted, you surprisingly feel compelled to pray for others in your family, your friends, coworkers, neighbors in your neighborhood, and even those you know who are doing mission in other countries. Even recent tragedies in the news, that made your heart so sad and helpless, begin to feel like opportunities for God to meet the broken in the most powerful of ways. All of a sudden, it is much easier to care---and hope. Through some strange grace, you have capacity to intercede and believe in the transforming power of the Gospel and the Presence of Jesus with you. You even begin to dream about how you and others in your church family can do something to serve and bless those who are in need around you. And this dreaming with friends continues in the coming days, weeks, and months...your church, and even the city, has become pregnant with possibility as the Lord continues to move.
1. Prayer is a powerful gift.
In our journey, we have found in the place of prayer is where our hearts and minds are re-oriented around the things on God's heart.
When we forget to make space and time to connect with the Father's Heart both individually and corporately, we so easily drift into a place of mere life management, complying with the desires of our flesh, or even pushing forward strategically without the wisdom or the heartbeat of the Spirit leading us.
Prayer is a gift to communities and individuals as it draws us outside of ourselves and into something much bigger, a place where the Presence of God is apparent---where He has our attention and can communicate His deep love to us without competing distractions. In prayer, the Father encounters us, reminds us of how we are loved by Him, and opens our hearts to love others around us with the love we have been given.
2. We Need Friendship.
As the Stockbridge Boiler Room community, God has given us a dream to see our city transformed and reconciled to the Father through His church (see our post What is the Church?). But we absolutely know this is not a dream for only us to pursue. This is a move the Spirit is making, letting us in on it with a whisper, and inviting us to play a small part of the orchestra He conducts. So first, we must prioritize keeping our ears to the heartbeat of God---and intercession for the city and its neighborhoods, with a listening posture, is something we cannot skip over. In Scripture and in church history, prayer always precedes mission movements, as well as sustains them. Second, we need the rest of God’s family, the church. We will need to invest time in fostering prayerful friendship and collaborating with other churches that are seeking the same goal. And on the front end, we need much more of the prayerful friendship piece than the collaboration. We all need our eyes opened wider to the precious value and purpose of one another in God’s church family, just as we are---and from there, with deep heart and mind agreement, loving and serving together as Jesus to see His Kingdom come on earth.
This is a word the Lord keeps Bringing to us this year: prayerful friendship.
We want to encourage prayer among the church of the city and sow into relationships to serve one another---and we have confidence that this is the starting place to see the lasting transformation we hope to see in our city.
3. A Gift to the Church of the City.
God has given us renewed desire to pursue prayerful friendship with other churches and communities in the city. One practical way He's has challenged us in this is to give away the DNA we carry in prayer as a gift to the church. We sense Him leading us to bless others by offering 24-7 prayer resourcing and coaching for churches/groups who are interested. We are also intentionally making ourselves available in these relationships with other churches to offer orientation training in healthy leadership discernment practice (based on the process outlined in Ruth Haley Barton's book Pursuing God's Will Together). For smaller groups, we've continued developing resources in Listening Prayer and Prayer Walking to make available as well, which are so foundational and transformative. We see the Church of Grand Rapids as GOD'S EXTENDED FAMILY in the city, and we want to foster deeper friendship within this family while offering this as a gift. The gift that we receive is the friendship of those we get to journey with. This extended family, this prayerful friendship bubbling into city transformation---this is the stuff of the Kingdom.
If the churches of our city are encountering the Lord in the place of prayer together, and living out life as communities on mission in the places God has put us, the city will be transformed by the Presence of Jesus in every corner of it, everyday.
:: tim ::
Testimonies from the work of 2016 in our Annual Report!
We are officially wrapping up the second full week of the Fall! As we experience the beautiful changing of the colors around us, the cool breezes, and pumpkin flavored everything(!), we wanted to reflect a bit on some of the beautiful things God made happen in our midst during this summer. Here are some pieces from our end-of-summer newsletter sent out a bit ago. Celebrate with us!
1) ONE Baptism: Our neighbor, Ben, received Jesus at our July 4th Pancake Breakfast and Parade! We had the biggest and most fun July 4th Celebration yet. The best part was that the Holy Spirit healed one of our neighbor's backs after Jordan prayed for her---and then another neighbor, Ben, gave his life to Jesus. Click here to watch a 30-second clip of the baptism: https://youtu.be/pFV4C3F_1xw
2) TWO of our Antioch students finished their first year of studies and practicums: Mark and Michelle have been engaging training in Church leadership through the Antioch School right here at the Boiler Room---they are getting married TODAY---and they're dreaming together about planting a missional community in the near future and how they might utilize their passions in gardening, family, physical projects, etc. We are so thankful for these two. Multiply your Kingdom, Jesus!
3) THREE weeks of prayer during 2016: We finished out three different weeks of prayer in a series with the themes of Pray Always, Pursue Shalom, and Love Boldly. We also coached a team of Calvin students through hosting a 24-7 prayer tent and did a City-Wide Prayer Bike Ride called RIDE GR. One woman who rode with us on the prayer ride, and who grew up on the West Side, celebrated with us afterward that it was the first time she'd ever prayed out loud with a group of people in her life!
4) FOUR interns finished strong this July after giving themselves to a full year of laying foundations of discipleship and mission in their lives. Dan and Eddie managed a community garden project with the Other Way together and made sustainable improvements to the Love Feast meals. Renee hosted soaking worship nights in the garage after Love Feasts this summer. Rebecca has pursued and walked with several young girls in our neighborhood during Love Feast meals and is moving into a house with some other young women on the West Side in order to living intentionally together. Eddie is continuing for a second year in order to pursue a dream of working with kids and being part of a team to plant a missional community. We are so proud of each of them!
5) Neighborhood Picnics on FIFTH Street: We were delighted for an opportunity to team up with the St. Adalbert's Catholic Basilica across the street from us to host some big neighborhood picnics in the park (during our regular Love Feast time). We have been so blessed to get to know some of the parishioners and clergy who have a heart for prayer, the lost, and are open to working together as God's Church in the neighborhood. Partnership and church unity is GOOD!