From the General Secretary: Mission beyond Ourselves
[Photo courtesy Jeff Atherton]
At five weeks old, Pipeline Church (RCA) already had more than 200 people in worship each week. Why is that significant?
It isn’t because of the age of the church. It isn’t because of the number of people worshiping.
It isn’t because the church meets in a hip, repurposed cold-storage building. It isn’t because a youth pastor started it. It isn’t because they meet on Sunday evenings rather than Sunday mornings and have dinner together after every service.
It isn’t because it is being planted in Visalia, California, or because another RCA congregation, Tulare Community Church, sent a handful of people to start it. It isn’t because it was planted in partnership with non-RCA churches.
It is because Pipeline Church has a vision and passion to reach people for Jesus Christ.
Whether at the soccer field, the middle school, or a restaurant, the people at Pipeline are inviting new people to become part of a special community centered on the love of Christ.
Pipeline is not the only church with this vision and passion. In the last year, 343 RCA congregations added new members or increased their weekly worship attendance. As these churches engage in Christ’s kingdom mission, they experience a renewed vitality and focus. It seems all RCA churches should be doing that, with the same results. But that’s not always the case—those 343 congregations make up only about 30 percent of RCA churches.
Engaging in mission is a significant challenge for all churches. Researcher George Barna writes in Turnaround Churches:
…a church will remain in its weakened condition until it becomes outreach-oriented. So many churches become ingrown, wailing constantly about their poor state of affairs, promising to worry about the needs of others outside the church once the church itself becomes healthy again. One of the primary lessons Jesus taught His disciples, though, was that health is a result of demonstrating love for one’s neighbor.
Churches experiencing transformation—whether new or established—are those committed to seeing and serving beyond themselves, bringing hope and help into our lost and broken world. That’s what’s happening at Pipeline, whose “vision is to engage, encourage, equip and expand our community to experience this life each and every day through the love and encouragement of Christ…We have a passion to continue growing and impacting lives and to reach people with the gospel message of Jesus Christ.”
It is awesome to have a front-row seat as the Spirit of God empowers RCA churches to engage in Christ’s kingdom mission as we live and love like Jesus in our neighborhoods, cities, and around the world!
Tom De Vries is general secretary of the Reformed Church in America.