Thursday, May 9, 2013

Sharing Hope

by Jim Hill

A few weeks our members and guests gathered at Metropolitan Missionary Baptist Church for our 11th Annual Gathering. It was a wonderful time of fellowship, worship and learning. Our theme was "sharing hope with those who need it most." This is the third year in our five-year emphasis on sharing hope. The five-year emphasis is focused on encouraging, equipping and assisting churches as they mobilize their members to share the hope they have found in Christ. Our churches are doing this through relational evangelism, congregational ministry and community advocacy.

This theme continues to be at the heart of our strategies to serve churches. In addition to serving as a theme for our worship, share hope was also the subject of our workshops during the Annual Gathering. This year we had five workshops led by our host congregation, our institutional partners, and local ministries. The Center for Justice and Sustainability at William Jewell College provided leadership for one of our workshops. The staff Central Baptist Theological Seminary also led a workshop. Two of our workshops featured ministries of Metropolitan Missionary Baptist Church.

The final workshop was led by staff members of Communities Creating Opportunities. This organization is a collaborative effort of congregations in the Kansas City area focused on helping congregations organize to address community needs. Metropolitan Missionary Baptist Church is a member of CCO along with more than 40 other congregations in Kansas City. A similar network of congregations exists in St. Louis called Metropolitan Congregations United, and a new group of congregations has emerged in Jefferson City known as Jefferson City Congregations Uniting. Each of these organizations is a gathering of congregations focused on collaborating to address the needs of individuals and families in their communities. I am currently serving as President of Missouri Faith Voices - a statewide network where these local groups of congregations come together to address needs in our state.

Share Hope is an expression of our desire to help our congregations make a difference in their communities as they lead people to faith in Christ, minister to their needs, and speak and act for those who have no voice. A couple of weeks ago First Baptist Church in Jefferson City, where I am a member, held a church-wide day of service. Our entire congregation was invited to gather on Sunday morning for a brief time prayer and worship, and then, instead of our normal Sunday activities, everyone went into our community to work in assigned ministries. It was pretty radical to cancel all our normal Sunday morning activities and send hundreds of people into the community to get involved with dozens of ministries, but I believe it is exactly the kind of "radical" love and service we need in our communities. I was proud of our congregation - an old "First Baptist" congregation - for stepping out in faith to serve.

Churchnet is committed to helping congregations find effective ways to share hope with their communities. Sometimes sharing hope involves collaborating with other congregations in their community. Sometimes it means breaking out of our traditional models and trying new ways of serving. Sometimes it means speaking and acting for justice for the poor and most vulnerable in our neighborhoods. We would love to assist your church as you seek to share hope in your community.

You can contact Jim Hill, Churchnet Executive Director, at (888) 420-2426 ext. 705 or at jimhill@thechurchnet.org.

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