Incarnating the Gospel
What does it mean to incarnate the Gospel? Observing God’s love toward humanity best captures the idea of incarnation. It is actualized by God taking on human flesh and lovingly drawing near to His creation. As a matter of fact, in John 1 it is articulated by verse 14, which says, “The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.” Literally, it means God came near, even moving into the neighborhood.
As we plant Immanuel Church, one of the contouring values we have is seeking to dream of how we can incarnate the Gospel in a particular context. In our case, that is the north central area of Spokane, Washington (Click here for demographics of the area). It has become our parish, if you will.
An Ecclesial (tricky word for "church") Problem
One of the problems that the church faces in America is Christians often envision their church involvement one directionally. By that I mean, people make decisions about where they should go based upon what they can get out of it. It is kind of like a laundry list of items like:
- Whether we like the speaker (does he have nice hair...does he have any hair? :))
- Whether we like the worship style (or how accomplished the musicians are)
- Whether our kids are cared for the way we think they should be
- Whether the facility is comfortable
- Whether we feel at ease with the people who attend, etc.
While we may fairly debate the validity of each of those reasons for attending a church, if we believe that incarnation is important, it is also essential that we consider attending in a location that has some proximity to where we live. In a word, we MUST consider the missional aspect of where we attend.
Here’s a challenge as it relates to Immanuel here in Spokane - and it is two prong:
- Join our Team - If you live in the North Central area of Spokane, will you consider joining our team of missionaries as we seek to genuinely display and declare the Gospel to this unique and under resourced part of our city. Some of you live in the very area we are attempting to reach, yet drive across numerous geographical zones to be a part of another community. That is fine if you clearly sense the Spirit’s call for you to do that, but if you have not considered the missional orientation of the church, take some time and do so. I am persuaded that your mission effectiveness would be enhanced by churching in the same area that you are living...and we certainly could use the partnership.
- Relocate - If you feel called to be a part of Immanuel Church, would you consider relocating to the North Central? It's called "re-neighboring." I know, I know, that is really counter to how we Americans think, but if we really buy the idea that God’s mission in a context is a calling, we cannot easily dismiss the idea that living in the same area you worship is important. While it may not be imperative in a commuter city, it certainly is not outside of the purview of consideration. Alternatively, maybe if you live in the North Central area and go to a church outside of that area, you should mull over the idea of moving there.
If you are interested in helping in any way, just comment on this blog and I will get back to you promptly or email me at (Click here).
Living, investing and “embedding” in the same area you gather to worship is not a new idea. It has been a proven missiological concept for a very long time…it is as old as, well…the moment God took on flesh and moved into the neighborhood.