114 in 2020!
The Summit theme from 3 years ago was “114 Neighboring” which Pastor Liebe encouraged us to fulfill. All of the speakers during the gathering shared various “neighboring” methods that had been successful at their respective churches. One of the more refreshing aspects was the transparency of the speakers about when and where things didn't go well in their efforts to reach out to their local communities. The disappointments ranged from a lack of volunteers to limited finances towards accomplishing their goals. Lydia, Ben, Janet, and I each walked away from that Summit with great ideas and new nuggets of inspiration. The four of us greatly appreciated the opportunity to represent our church, as well as the additional blessing of a great time of fellowship with many other pastors and leaders in our network. You're probably wondering what “114 Neighboring” stands for? Pastor Liebe shared with us the verse from John 1:14. He used the “Message” version of the Bible for his theme. The Word became flesh and blood, and moved into the neighborhood. We saw the glory with our own eyes, the one-of-a-kind glory, like Father, like Son, Generous inside and out, true from start to finish. One version says “He dwelt among us,” in other words, He lived with us. Superintendent Liebe challenged us to find the right outreach for our communities to help us bring Jesus to our world. How important and relevant this is in 2020! We want Jesus to be seen in our neighborhoods. Yet how do we successfully go into our neighborhoods with our social distancing challenges? Many of us think of Jesus as someone we go and hear about on Sundays at a local church. Wow! How different are life, church gatherings, and fellowship because of an unseen enemy creating this new pandemic challenge. All of us should be praying about creative ways to reach into our communities. Our rural setting creates a number of challenges. All of us are excited about our online outreach, yet technology should never replace the human touch. Ask yourself this question, “Would anyone notice if we were not here?” Hopefully, if our church and people were gone, others would be asking, “ where did they go?” 114 in 2020 is telling us to get into our neighborhoods because Jesus has never been stopped by any kind of crisis. He (Jesus) told us when he left to go to his Father, he would not leave us alone. He would send another person just like himself who would be with us forever. The Holy Spirit helps us to bring Jesus to our neighborhoods in a very tangible and touchable way. So, here is the question for each of us who call Hawthorne Assembly our church home. What are you doing to bring Jesus into your neighborhood? Pandemic or not, this is not the last crisis we will have to overcome. We must find effective pathways to touch our neighbors and bring them into the Kingdom of God. Keep praying for 114 insight and wisdom in 2020.