Thursday, September 24, 2015

Freedom for Mission: A Word from Alpesh Patel About Missions

“But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”     Acts 1:8
"…let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles.  And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith."    Heb. 12:1b-2a
What is “Missions?”  What is the church's role in Mission?  How is the LORD specifically calling Church of the Apostles to further enter into His work to "transform the City" for Jesus Christ?   These are the questions a group of eight individuals wrestled with for over a year (fall 2012-fall 2013) along with studying Scripture and seeking out the best practices in missions, both locally and nationally.  
The result led to the creation of a Missions Initiative Strategy that pointed to short-, medium-, and long-term goals associated with opportunities that can propel our congregation into deeper mission in very practical ways.  

Parts of this Strategy are already in motion and are having an impact (such as the adoption of ministry partners by our Community Groups) and other aspects (such as broader involvement in overseas mission work) will take time.

The Strategy also strengthens our current partnership with the nearly 20 ministry partners (both domestic and international) and five missionaries of Apostles, while opening the door for new partnerships to grow. 
Our partnerships are a vital way Christ is shared on college campuses, through sports & summer camps, in mentoring capacities and job skill programs, and many other ways.  
A revised Missions Policy now governs the timing and annual evaluation of ministry partner applications and requires the submittal of financial statements.  It also directs financial support based on a rigorous review of congregational involvement and ongoing partnership opportunities. 
Through these changes and the framework of the Mission Initiative Strategy our church is poised to take exciting, tangible steps to continue "onward and upward" (as CS Lewis is famously quoted) in mission minded engagement. 
Scripture reminds us to wait on God's timing (Isaiah 40:31) and how He prepares a season in our lives (Eccles. 3:1) that is in sync with His purposes.  It is clear to see how the launch of Freedom for Mission (or FFM) compliments the missions groundwork that’s been laid and beckons us to enter into a spiritual journey to consider our role (both individually and as a community) in advancing His Kingdom. 
 Let us enter this time with great celebration as to what the LORD has done already but also with great anticipation of what the LORD will do as more of our resources and ultimately our lives are freed up to serve Him.

One of the tenets of FFM is to “Bring the Blessing Forward."  This is a purposeful way to enable immediate participation in mission by taking 20% of every pledge received & directing it towards a local mission partner (“Community Hope”) and an international partner (“Walk with Rwanda.”) 
“Bring the Blessing Forward” is a unique way to see “first fruits” of mission investment and will act as a catalyst to create other opportunities to meet needs and make near-term impacts in our city.
 What a privilege to look back 3 years ago at our Mission Team’s charge to build a “hands-on, transformative congregational involvement" strategy, and to realize our church is on the cusp of that today through FFM.  I praise God for this; I praise Him for this exciting time in our church, and pray for His Spirit to move in our hearts in joyful obedience as we walk with Him by faith and trust in Him for the results.
---By Alpesh Patel 

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