Friday, June 5, 2009

Embracing the whole gospel with our whole lives for the whole world

In his annual General Secretary's report, Wesley Granberg-Michaelson reminded the General Synod of a past conversation between RCA's Gregg Mast and the late Bob Bast. They had imagined combining the offices for Social Witness and Evangelism. It didn’t happen then, but the idea was right.

We must learn to “shout the gospel with our lives.” These two areas of ministry are often viewed separately. Those committed to one often seem less than enthusiastic about the other. Wes asserted that "we must learn how to shout the gospel with our lives. A whole gospel reaches out not just to our immediate neighbors but to the whole world. That will require new, deeper, and more radical forms of discipleship."

"It’s the whole gospel that calls for our commitment—the inward and the outward journeys, dependent on one another, because it takes both to be a true disciple of Jesus Christ. To a younger generation, alienated from religious institutions and skeptical about Christian faith, a gospel that doesn’t speak to injustice and suffering is seen as hypocritical. And a church that engages in social action but is disconnected from spiritual power is seen as empty. And they are right."

Wes cited recent findings that "on average last year, the typical church member in the U.S. gave only 2.5 percent of his or her income to churches and Christian ministries. Of that amount, the average congregation gave just 2% of its budget to international mission efforts of any kind, whether evangelistic or for relief and development. In the RCA, our congregations give on average about 2.86% of their income to denominational efforts in global and local mission. So think of it this way: those in the church are giving only a little more than 2% of 2% of their income to address the overwhelming needs of the world."

Wes summarized, "We have come to Jesus. We have claimed Jesus. Let us follow Jesus."

Wes had no specific recommendations to bring in tonight's report. He noted that our direction established through Our Call is being faithfully carried out. "From my heart, I have one earnest pastoral plea: Let us embrace the whole gospel with our whole lives for the whole world. Let us commit from the depths of our hearts to be disciples for Jesus Christ."

Amen! Thanks, Wes.

Lee DeYoung

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