Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Kainos Movement 2015 Conference | Lab Session: Embracing the Poor in Your Church Plant with Pastor Richard Rieves

Emmaus City Church Worcester MA Soma Acts 29 3DM Christian Reformed Church Transcultural Multi-Ethnic Network of Missional Communities Kainos Movement

 

Kainos Movement 2015 Conference Lab Session: Embracing the Poor in Your Church Plant with Pastor Richard Rieves


Previous Kainos Movement 2015 Conference posts:





The following posts will feature my notes from the strong collection of Kainos 2015 pastors, nonprofit leaders, and sociologists who prophetically spoke into our segregated American cultureOur prayer, hope, and striving is that Emmaus City will be a transcultural and multi-ethnic church in Worcester, of Worcester, and for Worcester. As we move forward, we have much to gain from these men and women who have gone before us and lead the way in Jesus' name.

Kainos 2015 Lab Session: Embracing the Poor in Your Church Plant

 
Emmaus City Church Worcester MA Soma Acts 29 3DM Christian Reformed Church Transcultural Multi-Ethnic Network of Missional Communities Kainos Movement

 

Pastor Richard Rieves

Pastor of Downtown Church, Memphis
EPC Church Planting Coach for Multi-Ethnic Churches 

This is a God thing. All we have to do is follow Him. Jesus said He will build His Church and the gates of hell will not prevail. I had no idea what I was doing. I answered His call. And then I had to trust Him. 

In Memphis, we saw the typical post-World War II white flight. Racial segregation became more prominent, public housing policy became more corrupt, and urban renewal led to gentrification and misplacement. 

The good news that God incarnated for us in order to be with a people in a specific time and place demonstrates that God moves into broken places for broken people despite broken systems in order to renew and restore. We do not need to be afraid. 

We need to remember that we need the gospel first. Tim Keller says, "The gospel tells me I'm more sinful than I ever dared to believe, but more loved than I ever dared to hope." Also, if we don't understand this, we will tend to look down on others and disassociate from those we consider weak or worse. Dietrich Bonhoeffer wrote that "The exclusion of the weak and insignificant, the seemingly useless people, from a Christian community may actually mean the exclusion of Christ."

 Grace makes messy OK. You can't microwave relationships.

Jean Vanier said, "Jesus came to bring good news to the poor, not to those who serve the poor." The Holy Spirit is teaching people even where the Church is not. Jesus put it this way, "Blessed are the poor for yours is the Kingdom of God." We don't gain the gospel by serving the poor. Most of us need to learn how to suffer better. Friends in poverty will help you to suffer well with Jesus. 

God doesn't call us to do charity, but to do justice and love mercy. The poor should be in the midst of the Church, in the midst of all of God's people. The Church needs to recapture mercy and justice as fruits of relying on the Spirit of God. The rich need the poor as much as they think the poor need them, if not more so. And you can expect conflict when you hold to this. Exude gospel humility and gospel boldness. 

(1) Grow your ecclesiology so you understand and see that Jesus' Church is multi-ethnic and multi-cultural/class and can be in your local context
 (2) Be committed to the point of conviction
(3) Interview people in your city to better understand your context

What do people think of a multi-ethnic and multi-class church?
What does it mean for a church to be multi-ethnic and multi-class in your city?
What can you pray for in light of the responses you receive?

Then be patient and pray. 

Whenever there is a restoration movement of God, there is a counter-response by the evil one. The devil hates reconciliation. Be a city church that bridges between resourced and under-resourced across cultures and ethnicities. Sadly, monocultural commitment is deep and natural. People can be afraid of or don't know how to believe the gospel can break our monocultural idols. Fear and insecurity dominate when we listen to our own voices. Jesus has to become BIGGER. 

 Be a humble leader. Jesus had no ego. The Father's love was His ego and identity. Preach Christ alone and yourself as a sinner in need of His grace. Be a Jesus-desperate leader, not an expert. Assume God is already at work, because He is. Look for where the Spirit has already been moving.


– Sully


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