GCI President Update | January 2022
In GCI, our mission statement is “Living and Sharing the Gospel.”
For many years we have used the expression “Disciples who make disciples” – and have aspired that GCI would become a disciple-making movement.
In 2022, we need to restore a clear vision for discipleship.
Let’s start with a definition. Discipleship is the lifelong pursuit of learning to live under the care of our Father, the guidance of the Spirit, and forever growing in relationship with the Son.
Whether we talk about teaching, coaching, mentoring, leadership development, etc. we are talking about “Making Disciples and Discipleship.”
Discipleship is a life-long process.
For the sake of the Love Avenue, we are talking about neighborhood engagement and evangelism.
How would you define engagement?
Serving the needs of another, a neighborhood, or a community.
Participating in shared activities with the purpose of building relationships (more than cleaning litter from the street or painting a house but getting to know others on a deep personal level, and mutually experiencing the presence and love of Jesus).
How would you define evangelism?
“Winning” others to Jesus. Notice the Apostle Paul’s words.
18 What then is my reward? Just this: that in my proclamation I may make the gospel free of charge, so as not to make full use of my rights in the gospel.19 For though I am free with respect to all, I have made myself a slave to all, so that I might win more of them. 20 To the Jews I became as a Jew, in order to win Jews. To those under the law I became as one under the law (though I myself am not under the law) so that I might win those under the law.
1 Corinthians 9:18-20 (NRSV)
Evangelism is the illuminating, transforming work of the Holy Spirit. As believers, we participate with the Spirit in the life of another through presence and proclamation.
In 1 Corinthians 2:6-16, the Apostle describes the Spirit’s work of illumination. The Spirit opens our minds and hearts at conversion, and He continues throughout our Christian lives to make the gospel make sense to us and to lead us into Christ-likeness.
Presence is best described in the construct of “Place-sharing.” The term, place-sharing came from the theological mind of Dietrich Bonhoeffer and is elaborated on by Dr. Andrew Root. We are producing a webinar series that will get into the nuts and bolts of the “Why? What? And How?” of place-sharing. Be watching for this series and our Love Avenue Teams will want to dig in deep.
Proclaim Jesus! His Deity; His goodness; His love; and His desire to be in relationship with His children.
We don’t start with our church and its programs and activities (not that these are bad, but we must first be disciples of Jesus, if we are then to become “disciple-makers”).
How do we talk about God? How do we describe the Gospel to a new person?
Peter gives insight to our posture of proclamation. We are familiar with, “Be prepared to give an answer of the hope that lies within you for those who ask.” But let’s read it in its context:
13 Now who will harm you if you are eager to do what is good? 14 But even if you do suffer for doing what is right, you are blessed. Do not fear what they fear, and do not be intimidated, 15 but in your hearts sanctify Christ as Lord. Always be ready to make your defense to anyone who demands from you an account of the hope that is in you; 16 yet do it with gentleness and reverence.
1 Peter 3:13-16 (NRSV)
We in GCI are eager to do what is good. And what greater good can there be than making disciples?
The boldest and most brash of all the original disciples learned some meaningful lessons in his lifetime and through the inspiration of the Spirit shared these pearls of wisdom with the Church in his epistle.
- Set aside Christ as Lord in your life first.
- Always be ready to give an answer of the hope that is within you. And the hope that all believers have in common is the personal relationship with Jesus.
- Providing your answer to those “who ask.” We must be watchful and observant in our relationships to detect how Jesus is present, and how the Spirit may be nudging and turning the conversation toward spiritual matters.
- And when the door opens to speak about Jesus and his goodness do this gently and with respect. It isn’t the time to share all your knowledge about Jesus and the Bible, give them enough information to digest. Be willing to follow-up, even study and learn together, acknowledging that you too are a disciple still growing in grace and knowledge.
In GCI, our evangelism is relational. Like Peter, our evangelism begins with our relationship in Christ, it is an overflow of his love for us. He is the source of the love we are sharing with our neighbors.
In making disciples, please keep in mind that your neighbors are people very much like you. People who have needs and desires; people who have struggles and disappointments; and people who have dreams and hopes. And just like you and me, they need love and friendship, and whether they realize it or not, they too need Jesus. In him, we all receive healing, restoration, and wholeness.
So church, in 2022 let’s, you and me, be even more compelled by love to live and share the Gospel of Jesus. And may the aspiration to become a disciple-making movement move beyond a dream toward reality!