Tuesday, August 12, 2014

City Renewing Church | Trinity Grace Church: What might sacred roots look like in Worcester, MA?

Emmaus City Church City Renewing Church Worcester MA Soma Acts 29 Christian Reformed Network of Missional Communities

How might we see the culture of the Kingdom of God take root with Emmaus City in Worcester, Massachusetts?

With Emmaus City, we want to be a city renewing church. Recently, I shared how City Life Church and Redeemer Presbyterian Church have shared what gospel renewal looks like for these churches in their cities, and how we might pray to see gospel renewal in Worcester, MA. Here are links to those posts:

Another church has also caught my attention. A few weeks ago, I stumbled upon Trinity Grace Church's 7-Year Anniversary Video. Wow. What an amazing work God is doing through the parish churches connected to Trinity Grace. Here is a summary quote from Pastor Jon Tyson in light of this key anniversary:

"As we mark our church's seven year anniversary, we celebrate the culture of the Kingdom of God taking root in our midst. God has made His mercy and His grace known in profound ways. On our Seven Year Anniversary, we pause to give God thanks and we lift our hearts with anticipation believing that He will continue to answer this ancient prayer today: 'Now to Him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to His power that is at work within us; To Him be glory in the church, and in Christ Jesus, throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen' (Ephesians 3:20-21)."

Celebrating the Cultures of the Kingdom of God  

Celebrating the culture of the Kingdom of God taking root in the midst of His people as well as His mercy and grace being made known in profound ways is absolutely wonderful. You can hear it and you can see it with those connected with Trinity Grace. Do yourself a favor and take the time to watch the 13-minute video. It is Jesus-glorifying and illuminating. But for now, here are some key points and quotes:

"The church doesn't just exist for itself. It exists to declare the glory and heart of God to the world. Its people, its life, its culture, its service, and its sacrifice are telling a story about the God that we serve. Jesus is so committed to this vision of the church that He calls the church His body. His heart is expressed to the world through His people and the church at its best gives the world a tangible encounter of what it feels like to be loved by Jesus." Jon Tyson
A Culture of Grace
"We believe that the church should always be a place where people can find grace. ... 'Are we making it easier or more difficult for someone to get to Jesus and experience His love?' One of the most amazing things that we get to experience is seeing the resurrection joy on a person's face as they move from death to life in Christ, to see someone come out from under a lifetime of shame and embrace their new identity as a member of God's own household. And then this breathtaking transformation starts to occur. People experience new desires flowing out of this new covenant heart. They desire to seek and know God, to claim His promises, to walk in freedom from the wounds and addictions of their past." – Caleb Clardy
A Culture of Sacrifice
"Our people have committed to a cause that fuels them well beyond convenience. People have wept together and shared their struggles. Helped pay one another's bills. Mourned the loss of loved ones. And supported one another in raising children. No matter what it takes, we have committed to doing it together. One area where sacrifice on behalf of others is particularly evident is in the planting of new churches in the city. Launching an event is easy, but forming a loving community centered on Jesus from a community of strangers is hard work. ... We want to be the kind of people who sacrifice on behalf of others." Elaina Sherrill
A Culture of Family
"We all ache for love. To be known and to find acceptance in the longing. When the first church forms in Jerusalem following the day of Pentecost, the Scriptures tell us they devoted themselves to the apostles' teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. Everyone was filled with awe at the many signs and wonders ... All the believers were together and had everything in common. They sold property and possessions and gave to anyone who had need. ... They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved. ... In a city defined by personal ambition and radical individualism, we're beginning to see people opening their hearts and life to one another in breathtaking ways." Jose Torrejon
A Culture of Pursuit
"People in the city are known for their passions for their career, and for startups, and for education, and weekends. Few people are passionate about souls. But we've come to know that there's a God of love who cares deeply about our hearts, who cares deeply about our longings and our desires, and this same God wants us to pursue Him above all else. In our community, the passionate pursuit of God is coming to be understood as the normal Christian life. ... we're seeing people gather in the morning, during lunch hours, throughout the evening, after work to pray and to seek God's face and His presence. As a church family, we've committed to praying for spiritual renewal in our city from noon to 1 p.m. every Wednesday and groups of people are meeting all throughout the city for that very purpose. ... The first official meetings of Trinity Grace Church were nights of fervent prayer on a rooftop in the center of the city. We prayed, 'Lord, I've heard of Your fame. I stand in awe of Your deeds, Lord. Renew them in our day. In our time, make them known. In wrath, remember mercy.' It's that same desperation of more of God and His presence that burns in the heart of our community today." Kyser Thompson
A Culture of Empowerment
"Our church does not exist for itself, but to equip people with the theological vision to join God in His great redemptive work and send them into the world to do just that. People are being set free from the narrow confines of advancing their careers for their own sakes and are taking hold of a bigger vision. From fashion to education, from marketing to international relations, people are starting to see themselves primarily as agents of God's Kingdom and are beginning to work, not just for the bottom line, but for the common good. ... participating in all of God's mission for all of life." Dana Tanamachi
A Culture of Renewal
"We have a conviction that the Creator God is at work to renew and heal the whole world. To follow Jesus, and join Him in His mission, is to become agents of renewal in our neighborhoods, industries, and our city as a whole. We have begun to realize the privilege we enjoy even though most of us would not consider ourselves to be wealthy, and have developed a vision to steward our privilege on behalf of others. As we have multiplied into various corners of our city, the opportunities to work towards justice have been funded whether through mentoring programs for moms and children, ESL classes, or the 'Save Our Streets' initiative ... we've been inspired by Jesus' concern for the marginalized." Lynn Foote 
A Culture of Presence
"The heart cry of our church from the beginning has been a hunger for the presence of God. ... "Let us go with you because we have heard God is with you.' We long to see this play out in our city. There is no greater delight than experiencing the manifest presence of Jesus and the life, peace, freedom, and joy that come when He draws near. ...  We regularly see men and women restored and healed as they respond to the prompting of God's Spirit. ... These times have led to a spirit of repentance and faith as people have been confronted with a God who inhabits the praises of His people. As we contemplate the magnitude of the calling that God has given us and the road that lies ahead, our prayer is that of Moses, 'If Your presence does not go with us, do not send us out from here.'" Darnell Abraham

Sacred Roots: Why the Church Still Matters and Quiet: Hearing God Amidst the Noise

Two brief books that provide more insight into how Trinity Grace Church pursues their vision and develops their culture are Sacred Roots: Why the Church Still Matters by Jon Tyson and Quiet: Hearing God Amidst the Noise by AJ Sherrill. Here are two quick quotes from each:

"Jesus modeled all of these shifts – (1) from dabbling to devotion, (2) from transience to permanence, (3) from preference to proximity, (4) from belief to practices in the most beautiful way: He prioritized his life around loving people. He didn't dabble with love but devoted himself to his disciples. He washed their feet and restored them after they failed. He died for their sins, and then rose again on their behalf. He came to us to secure a place for us. He takes his kingdom and this earth seriously. He has been preparing a place for us, and one day the beautiful city will come to earth, and we will dwell with him forever. Jesus also arranged his life so he was in intimate proximity to his disciples. He did daily life with them, watching them, loving them, teaching them, and training them. And through his Spirit, he is not just with us, but in us, the hope of glory (see Colossians 1:27). He also put his love into practice – healing the sick, confronting hypocrisy, welcoming the outcast, embracing the leper, and ultimately giving his life in love. That is why when we respond to the call of Jesus to deny ourselves for the sake of a communal discipleship and mission, the church looks less like the world and more like Jesus. And a church that looks and loves like Jesus in the midst of our culture would be an almost irresistible thing."

"Every moment of every day the most significant reality in the entire universe is the radical availability of God's Presence. Yet, in almost every moment of every day we remain unaware of this generous gift. One of the ways our Christian ancestors experienced this gift is through contemplation. For the purpose of this work, contemplation is simply 'the practice of stilling ourselves before God, moving ever deeper into the core of our being and simply offering ourselves to God in totally vulnerable love.' Contemplative spirituality may be the most challenging of all the practices in Christian discipleship. We know Jesus spent 40 days in the wilderness before uttering the most unconventional wisdom the world had ever heard (the Beatitudes). No one can spend 40 straight days thinking and talking. Prayer must become more for us than thinking thoughts and saying words to God. We simply run out of things to say. At some point our relationship with God demands we move away from words, away from noise, and away from the mental chatter toward discovering God in the quiet, the stillness and the silence."

Do we need the culture of the Kingdom of God to take its sacred root in our midst? Do we need Jesus, the Vine, apart from whom we can do nothing? Do we need to be still and hear the voice of God whisper His vision of grace and mercy to us through His Holy Spirit? Do we want His church to be empowered and equipped to impact the people of Worcester with His love? 

If yes, then we desperately need to pray that God would accomplish all of the above in us and through us in the weeks, months, and years to come.

Next post: City Renewing Church | The Austin Stone Community Church: Will we ask for God to do far more in Worcester, MA?


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