missional

What Are You Thinking? Our DFCS Partnership.

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“The Georgia Division of Family and Children Services (DFCS) investigates reports of child abuse; finds foster and adoptive homes for abused and neglected children; issues SNAP, Medicaid and TANF; helps out-of-work parents get back on their feet; and provides numerous support services and innovative programs to help families in need.” (from the dfcs about page)

I have had to contact DFCS as a mandatory reporter when I witnessed child abuse. I have prayed for and with families who have been falsely accused of child neglect or abuse. I have been questioned by DFCS about abuse and neglect. I have been interviewed regarding cases I was connected with through family and friends. I have seen children with great needs go to families who were told the child had no special needs. I have seen children removed from good families. I have seen children go to bad families. And we have likely all heard stories of cases gone wrong. I have seen children weeping, biological parents weeping and foster parents weeping - each and all in some way devastated by circumstances and decisions.

Why in light of all of the negative interactions would you choose to partner with DFCS? That was the question that our primary DFCS representative asked recently. It is a fair question. It may be a question that you have had. This morning, though someone else had already answered the question, I emailed our DFCS contacts with my answer to that question as I also made a plea on behalf of one of our families. I deleted the plea from this post but wanted to share the WHY of our partnership.

Dear __________,
Amanda shared your questions with me a couple of weeks back about how we came to the decision to work to help DFCS as a church. You asked that in light of some of the negative interchanges our people have had with DFCS over the years. I want to answer that…

Theologically we understand our world in light of the Bible’s story of creation, fall, redemption and restoration:
God created the world and all that is in it, and created Adam and Eve and placed them in the garden. Things were “very good.” Adam and Eve’s relationship with one another was exactly as it was designed to be and theirs with their creator was exactly as it was planned to be. At this point there was no sin or brokenness in the world.
Then Eve disobeyed God, and Adam followed. Sin had entered the world. Immediately everything changed – Adam’s relationship with Eve, hers with him, each of them with God. Brokenness from sin would quickly fill the pages of history – abuse, murder, wars, famine, death.

God promised a redeemer as early as Genesis 3:15 – one who would come to fix the brokenness. Over and over throughout the Old Testament that redeemer is promised.
We meet him in the Gospels. His name is Jesus.

Jesus lived the life that we cannot – perfect and holy,
He died the death that we deserve – the penalty for sin,
He was raised on the 3rd day defeating death and sin and Satan, ultimately for us.
He ascended to the right hand of the Father where now he intercedes for those who love and follow him, those who trust in his work of redemption.

He has promised that he is returning.
He is coming again to finish the work that he has only begun. When he returns he will judge his enemies and all those who are lost in their sin. He welcome those who are his own into his presence and into the Father’s presence and then, he will restore all things to what was intended in the garden, when there was no sin. Then there will be no more sin, no more suffering, no more brokenness and we will be with him forevermore.

Until then we live in the brokenness of a fallen world. We live with the hope that we have in him and the future that he has promised. Until he comes to fully and finally redeem and restore, we, the church are to be His Kingdom present. We strive to bring shalom to the world we are in. We work to bring a glimpse of what will be to what is now.
In that kingdom there will be no abused children – we will all be loved.
There will be no more suffering and all will be cared for.

That is your job.
God gave it to you through the government that he established (Romans 13).
He has given DFCS with all of its (own) brokenness to help with the brokenness of families. We want to help you help families and kids.

We want to bring an end to suffering and (to) care for others as best we can, as a glimpse of the kingdom that will be. So we have made a commitment to you and through you to families and children.

And our plan is to stick with you.

For all of the difficult situations I have been a part of with DFCS, I have also been a part of numerous good situations… good in a broken world. I have seen abused and neglected children rescued from terrible situations. I have seen them loved and cared for. I have seen the adoptions of families who have made these children their own. I have been in the attorney’s office and heard the judge’s declaration of adoption. I’ve seen tears of joy not just tears of sadness and hurt. I have seen foster children loved as if they belonged to a family as preparation was made for their forever home. I have seen kids cared for as parents work on addiction and other issues. I have seen DFCS workers who are under-paid and over-worked, vigorously pursue the best interest of children. I’ve seen them fight for the safety and well being of children. I’ve also seen them not only work to help mothers and fathers but go well past the extra mile to try to keep families together.

Their job is hard. I honestly cannot imagine doing it. But they do. Many of them very well.
They often do so with little appreciation from families on either side, only criticism.
Their job is important. God has ordained this government to care for those who cannot care for themselves. Children’s lives are at stake and at the very least, in every interaction their health and well being are at stake. That is a lot. It is a hard job.

DFCS is a broken government organization that is staffed by broken people (like we are all broken) seeking to work with broken children and broken families in a sadly broken world.
Jesus has come to mend the brokenness.
Though we will not see the brokenness fully fixed until He returns, the church is here, in part, by his grace, to give a glimpse of what will be. We are here to mend what can be mended, to serve as He would serve, to defend those who cannot defend themselves, and where we are able, to be instruments of healing.
I cannot think of a better partnership than this one.

We are thankful for the DFCS workers. May we pray more and more for you and all that you do.
We are saddened and sometimes angered by moms and dads who abuse and neglect. May our anger be righteous as it reminds us that this is not how things were intended to be and may our sadness lead us to prayer and action on your behalf and on behalf of your children.
We are brokenhearted for the children who suffer daily and need desperately to be loved. May we love you like Jesus loves you and serve you as His own.
We see you fostering and adoptive families! May we pray for you, pray with you and support you more and more in the days to come - you are part of his answer for now to all of this brokenness.

In all of it may we be reminded that we labor for a kingdom that is coming and for a king who will do all that he promised. May we hope in his promises because he is faithful and true.
And let us not grow weary of doing good… Galatians 6:9

Mission: Loving the People Where You Are

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My view of mission for the believer has been radically reshaped over the past several years. I once viewed mission as GOING to far away lands where languages and cultures were different - South America, Asia… I saw missionaries as those people who were especially sent by God to reach those foreign people with the good news of Jesus. It was what I learned. The great commission after all says, “Therefore, go and make disciples of all nations…”

As I write this we have a team that just returned from a mission trip to Honduras and another that is currently in Guatemala, I love mission to far away places and peoples who are very different.
But I also have come to know that mission is as much “next door” as it is far away. You see, the great commission, I believe, is not a call to GO, but a call to MAKE DISCIPLES. And I believe that it what we translate as “go” in the original language would better be translated, “as you go.” I believe that because first, it is a participle and second because all of the disciples didn’t “go.” Most stayed where they were. There, where they were, as they went about their normal routines and rhythms of life, they made disciples. As they met new people and made new friends, they told them about Jesus.
They loved the people right where they were,in their neighborhoods and where they worked.

This is mission. Loving the people where you are and loving them enough to tell them about Jesus. It is intentionally living as a missionary right where God has you, as you go about your life.

Last week 2 of our MCs (missional communities) gathered in different places but with the same goal - meeting neighbors and through new relationships, telling them about Jesus. Beautiful!

These aren’t the only MCs intentionally reaching out to their neighbors! Others have had or regularly have neighborhood gatherings with food and drinks and games for the kids! This is becoming the norm - mission, loving the people where we are. What a grace!!

I thank my God in all my remembrance of you, always in every prayer of
mine for you all making my prayer with joy, because of your partnership in the gospel …
Philippians 1

The Gospel Isn't a Cul-de-sac

The cul-de-sac was a phenomenal invention for the suburbs.

It created a safe and peaceful place for families to raise children.

No one passed through. In fact, the only time strangers can appear is after a wrong turn and they find themselves at the dead end. The design made it simple for those who don’t belong to quickly turn around.

It also kept everyone who belonged there in one place. Once you came in, you didn’t have to leave. You could remain the rest of your days with likeminded folks, playing games in your asphalt sanctuary.

The cul-de-sac is the epitome of the suburban life and vaues. However, the gospel is not a cul-de-sac. It isn’t a safe sanctuary that separates you from the dangers of the world—it throws you into the world. It isn’t your private enclave to secure your values and doctrines. It ushers you into a hospitality for the other—the not like you.  The gospel is doctrinal, changing what we believe. It also is personal, changing who we are. But it is more than that.

THE GOSPEL IS MISSIONAL: IT CHANGES WHERE & HOW WE LIVE.

If we just focus on the doctrinal and personal aspect of the gospel, we will neglect its missional aspect. If the doctrinal gospel changes what we believe, and the personal gospel changes who we are, then the missional gospel changes where we live and what we say. It is the hopeful announcement that God is making all things new in Christ Jesus! The gospel ushers us into a new kingdom and new world. We no longer live in a world dominated by death and deconstruction but one of life and re-creation!

“The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim liberty to the captives and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.” —Luke 4:18-19, Isaiah 61

THE GOSPEL CHANGES EVERYTHING

The gospel changes everything. It is not only good news for us, but also for our neighbors, the poor, our city, and the world. It affects the social, cultural, and physical fabric of the universe. In Luke 4, Jesus preached the gospel to the poor, marginalized, and oppressed. It is good news for them because through his death and resurrection he has defeated sin, death, and evil (1 Jn. 2:13; 3:8). The gospel announces the in-breaking reign of Jesus, which is in the process of reversing the order of things. The poor become rich, the captives are freed, and the old become new.

THE GOSPEL SENDS US ON MISSION

Those who follow Jesus join his mission by making disciples of all ethnic groups by going, teaching, and baptizing (Matt. 28:18-20). We are sent to teach, speak, counsel, discuss, and proclaim the gospel to others so that they might be baptized into God’s new creation and join his mission of making all things new. We are called “ambassadors of reconciliation” and given the privilege of sharing in Jesus’ ministry of reconciling the world to himself (2 Cor. 5:17-20). Those who have been changed by the gospel share its life-changing power with others. We should announce and embody the good news by caring for the poor and rebuilding cities (Is. 61:4). In fact, the future for the people of God is an entirely new city in a new creation (Rev. 21). The church should be a movie trailer of this grand, coming attraction, when all things will be made new!

REMEMBER, THIS IS WHO YOU ARE

The result of the church—you, us—being sent is that we live as a community of disciples—not only devoted to Jesus and to one another—but devoted to our neighbors and our city, too. When we come to Christ, we are all sent on his mission.

We are new and have a new purpose. Christ reconciled us to himself and we are a new creation. Our old way of finding identity and our broken ways of finding meaning are over. We are reconciled and ushered into a vibrant and living relationship with God. This is the gospel, that Christ has reconciled us to God through his death and resurrection and is making all things new—even us. We are recipients of the gospel, messengers of the gospel, servants of the gospel, and are representatives of the gospel’s work. See, you cannot separate our identity in Christ from our purpose in Christ. That identity and purpose requires some sort of expression of gospel focused community on mission:

  • We live on mission because we have received the gospel.
  • We live on mission because we are messengers of the gospel. He is making his appeal to the world through us.
  • We live on mission because we are ministers of reconciliation—servants of the gospel.
  • We live on mission because we are ambassadors—representatives of the gospel.

12 SIMPLE WAYS TO BE ON MISSION THIS HALLOWEEN

(From Verge Network)

This coming Halloween offers a great opportunity for many to engage in new relationships with those around us or to revisit some old relationships with new missional intentionality. Regardless of what you think of the holiday and it’s roots, the culture we have been sent by Jesus to reach is going to celebrate Halloween. We all have in front of us a wide open door for missionary engagement in our neighborhoods. I want to encourage you not to miss out on the opportunity.

If you are looking to be more intentionally engaged this year, I want to present you with a few ideas for how you can more effectively walk through the open door that Halloween presents to us as Jesus’ missionaries.

BE HOSPITABLE

Don’t just give out candy:

1. Give out the best Candy

Please, don’t give out tracks or toothbrushes or pennies…kids are looking for the master loot of candy. Put yourself in their shoes.

2. Think of the Parents

Consider having some Hot Apple Cider and pumpkin bread or muffins out for the parents who are bringing their little kiddos around the block. Make your entry-way inviting so they want to come closer and hang for a bit if possible.

3. Be Present

Don’t hide out all night. Come out to the door or hang out on the porch and if they stop to have some cider, get to know their names and where they live in the neighborhood.

4. Be Encouraging

Tell the kids you love their costumes and to have a great night. Practice building others up with words.

5. Party

If you’re really into it, you may want to throw a pre-Trick or Treating party. Provide dinner and drinks. Then, send the dads out trick or treating with the kids while the moms continue hanging with some hot apple cider, coffee or tea. Then reconvene with the parents and kids together to examine all of the loot (kids love to show their parents and other kids the loot).

6. Learn the Stories

If you are out Trick or Treating with the kiddos or staying back with the other parents, ask questions…get to know their stories. Pay attention to their hearts and their felt needs. Look for opportunities to serve them later. This is how I first got to know Clay (while Jayne was hanging with Kristi and the other moms). I learned his story while we were with the kids and Jayne got to know hers. This led to both of them eventually coming to faith in Jesus.

GO TO THEIR PLACE

Join what is happening elsewhere:

7. Attend the Party

If others are throwing parties, you may want to join them. If so, bring drinks, food or whatever is needed. Then, serve by helping to clean up.

8. Join the Community

If your community has key events, join them and invite some neighbors to go with you (then get to know their stories along the way). Our area has a trick or treating event on a main street where all the businesses give out candy, the firemen give tours of the fire engines, etc. We go with a group of friends to this each year and consistently meet more people to reach out to.

9. Head to the “Watering Holes”

If you do not have kids or are not going to engage in the Trick or Treating activities or events, consider going to the local pubs, restaurants or clubs near you for their events and get to know the people there. Make it your goal to learn the story of at least one person who needs Jesus and walk away with some next steps on how to serve them. You will want to do this with others so that you don’t go it alone.

BE PRAYERFUL

Ask for the Spirit to lead, guide and work:

10. Pay Attention

Ask the Spirit to open your eyes and ears to the real needs around you.

11. Stay Dependent

Ask the Spirit to help you listen, care and serve those around you.

12. Open Doors

Ask the Spirit for open doors for new relationships and gospel conversations

(- Jeff Vanderstelt)

14 More Resources to Help You Be on Mission this Halloween

  1. 3 Tips for Discipling Your Kids on Halloween
  2. Halloween: Trick, Treat, or Missional?
  3. 3 Practical Ways to be Missional This Halloween
  4. Why Throwing Parties is Missional
  5. Halloween is for Mission - 5 Practical Ways to be Missional on Halloween
  6. 3 Tips for Reaching Your Neighbors this Halloween
  7. How to Use Hospitality to Reach Out to Your Neighbors
  8. 5 Simple Ways to Move Your Neighbors from Strangers to Missionaries
  9. How to Listen to Your Neighborhood
  10. 3 Simple Ways to Give True Hospitality
  11. How to Have a Missional Meal
  12. 5 Ways to Bless Your Neighbors
  13. Simple Ways to Share Your Faith
  14. Halloween is Not Important

New City Planting a Missional Community in the Dominican Republic

Caleb and Hanna Bedingfield are leaving Macon in August... but they aren't leaving New City! Here's where they're headed, a little on how we're already a part of this journey and more on how you might help!


We have always had a love for the mission field. It’s something that defines who we are as a couple. We have been blessed with the incredible opportunity to serve many times in numerous countries. We have a deep love for the Gospel and a desire to see the light of Christ shown into the nations. We also have a strong desire to raise up passionate Christ-followers who are committed to serving the Lord on His awesome mission.

This August, we will be moving to the city of Juan Dolio in the Dominican Republic to serve as Student Life Directors for the GAP Program with SCORE International. SCORE is an organization that seeks to evangelize the lost, engage people in missions, equip disciples, and encourage others through serving. The GAP year is a program for high school graduates who will live and study in the Dominican Republic; it’s designed to provide students with the opportunity to become fluent in Spanish, study theology and missions, be immersed in the Hispanic Culture, be discipled in a Missional Community setting, as well as experience what it is like to be a missionary. We will personally be responsible for life-on-life discipleship, mentorship and accountability with these students as well as helping them adjust to a new culture and way of life.

Throughout the past 6 months God has been preparing our hearts for what, at the time, was unknown. We have been going through New City’s training MC under Patrick McConnell’s leadership for the past 17 weeks with the hopes of launching a new MC as leaders for New City. This training has reshaped the way we both see the gospel, given us a passion for building genuine community, and lit a fire in us to live on mission in the day-to-day. We have to admit, when Patrick approached us about becoming MC leaders, we were thrilled. Little did we know, God was using this training to prepare us to essentially launch an MC in the Dominican Republic this Fall. Missional Communities have been a catalyst behind our faith and we see the gospel spreading, the global church growing, and disciples being made through the community that MC’s build.

We have some specific needs as we go on mission to the Dominican:
1.    We need your prayers.
•    94% of the Dominican Republic people are professing Christians with only 9% of them being Evangelical. Pray that the gospel will break down the walls of false religion and legalism and that their eyes will be opened to the glorious grace found in the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Pray for boldness and clarity as we share the Gospel.
•    Pray that healthy, meaningful and God-honoring relationships form with the locals as well as with the students we will be leading and mentoring.
•    Also, please join us in praying that our transition into a new culture and into full-time ministry will be smooth. Life will be very different living in the DR, it will mean the world to have your prayers and encouragement as we move and adjust.

2.    We need financial support.
We are asking you to consider partnering with us financially by supporting us monthly or by giving us a one time gift. You can easily donate to us online HERE -  just put either or both of our name(s) in the info box.

“Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who promised is faithful. And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.” Hebrews 10:23-25


The New City, Macon Elder Team has already committed to supporting Caleb and Hanna as they work in the DR!  We are excited for them, excited about what God will be doing in and through them and excited to see what opportunities we might have as a church to travel to the DR and work with the Bedingfields!