As the year draws to an end, we're looking back at one highlight of each month. This is the last installment--our hearts are full as we look back at all God has done this year in these thin slices of community life. Enjoy!
September: Launch of Antioch School and New Interns
We launched a local cohort of the Antioch degree program for training church leaders toward the long term goal of multiplying Missional Communities throughout the city. Mark and Michelle, two graduated interns with a passion for evangelism and discipleship, stepped in to shoulder more leadership responsibility as they work toward their Bachelors of Ministry.
Four new interns began in September: Dan a natural leader with a heart for neighborhood transformation; Eddie, a young neighbor who is passionate to impact youth; Renee, who wants to see people walk in deeper healing through counseling; and Rebecca, who has recently been baptized and desires to live all of her life like Jesus.
October: Love Feast at Stocking Elementary
We hosted our weekly community meal, the Love Feast, at the local Stocking Elementary School. Almost all the families whose children attend Stocking Elementary live in our neighborhood. This relationship with the school has grown over this past year as we’ve been asking the question, “How can we partner together to serve Westside families?”
Instead of our usual 75-100 people we have for our weekly Love Feast we had about 200 folks come through the elementary school gym to join us for a meal together. Because two small groups graciously volunteered to provide and serve the food, the principal and other staff were able to spend time with parents in a much more natural environment than their office while our missional community had opportunity to develop new relationships with families.
November: Week of 24-7 Prayer and door to door Prayer Request gathering
We hosted a week of 24/7 Prayer for the churches and organizations on the Westside of Grand Rapids. The name of the prayer week was Grace Abounds in which we focused on receiving the grace of God in thankfulness through repentance, reconciliation, worship and intercession.
Leading up to the Prayer Week we went door to door throughout the neighborhood asking folks for prayer requests. We collected 104 requests that were prayed for throughout the prayer week. We'll be following up with these families in the new year.
December: Commission of first Missional Community
In an effort to move toward multiplication, this past year we have become oriented around the idea of the local church being made up of many Missional Communities---people who are committed to walking with one another as the family of God and seeking to minister to their neighbors together.
As the year has come to a close, we have just completed the process of writing a Missional Community Covenant---a commitment for the entire family which brings unity and focus by honing in on foundational questions:
What do we understand the Gospel to shape us as a church family?
How do we practically live as spiritual family?
Who is the people group God has called us to demonstrate and speak the Gospel to?
What specific things will we do together to live as missionaries in our neighborhood?
On covenanting: “We bind ourselves to each other in times of strength so that in moments of weakness we do not become unbound.”
― Ruth Haley Barton
We are excited for what the Lord has done to mature our community this past year and for how he is going to lead us in deeper discipleship and growing his family in the new year.