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Pastor's Pen: Mission With "Training Wheels"

Sometimes a church can be betrayed by our institutions and structures. Being a very practical people, we organize ourselves to get things done. We create committees that handle important jobs like worship, fellowship, or outreach. This can be extremely effective, but there is a temptation. We sometimes assume that the work of the church is limited to what the institution does. We are tempted to think that worship, fellowship, or outreach only occur when they are planned or sanctioned by a committee. Thankfully, the Holy Spirit is much more creative than that.

Take mission for example. Many congregations treat mission as a work separate from what they normally do. The church does its work, and we send missionaries or create agencies to do mission in the world. Unfortunately, that’s not how the bible treats mission. God calls all of us, not just a special group of Christians, to share the love of Christ with the world. That doesn’t take away from the good work of FPC’s mission partners. Instead, it means that we need to see ourselves as much as missionaries as the people we regularly support. The Twentieth Century theologian, Emil Brunner, put it succinctly, “the church exists by mission, just as fire exists by burning.”

That’s one of the main inspirations of our upcoming mission trip to Belize. Rather than suggest that mission is someone else’s job, we as a congregation are partnering with fellow Christians in Belize to do mission together. From February 15 through 22, twenty-eight people from Norwalk will be the church as we experience mission first-hand.

Do we have to go all the way to Belize to do mission? No, not at all. However, a short-term mission trip like this will impact our congregation in amazing ways. When we experience God in cross-cultural mission, much of the distractions of our daily lives disappear. By seeing God more clearly in Belize means that we will recognize him better here. Again and again, I have found those who have gone on mission trips abroad return on fire for mission in our own backyard. In a sense, we go to Belize to do mission with “training wheels” that makes us better disciples.

My prayer is that our partnerships in Belize will be a source of renewal for our congregation. I truly believe that God will do something exciting among those going on this trip. To that end, we need your help. First, please pray for the team that is going. Pray for our safety and our openness to the leading of the Holy Spirit. Second, if you can, please support us financially. It will cost us about $2,000 per person for this trip. Each participant is committed to helping us defray that cost. However, we still need your support. It’s an investment in our church’s renewal.

God is doing great things at First Presbyterian Church. I am so blessed to join you on this journey.

Grace & Peace,

James Hodsden

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