Ordinary People Living Out an Extraordinary Calling to Love

Imagine 2017

Over 600 completely average people joined us for Imagine last weekend. We joined together because we believe that the gospel of Jesus Christ is that He came to seek and to save sinners just like us. We also believe that the whole of the Gospel is much more radical: it invites us to live as a disciple of the One who fed the hungry, clothed the naked, welcomed children, and spent time with those society deemed unworthy and outcasts.

 

This past weekend, over 600 ordinary followers of Jesus joined together to learn how to better seek justice, love mercy, and walk humbly with our God (Micah 6:8). We recognized the fears that often paralyze us, and we leaned into the truths from Scripture: that the same way our Savior walked right into the “Samarias” of His world, we are called to the “Samarias” of ours…the places others would rather avoid: the streets, the group home, the orphanage, the prison, the abortion clinic, the rehab center, and the strip club. He walked in, bent down, and looked people right in the eye because relationships transform. He not only calls us to follow Him, but equips us as we do.

 

“Imagine made me realize that my fear of stepping out is normal, and reminded me that God can use anyone.”

“Some moments my heart was breaking and at the same time my fears are lessening. Opening my mind to what it means to truly love others as God loves us!”

“It gave me further conviction to open up to more possibilities that previously scared me.”

 

Throughout the weekend together we considered the idea of “What’s my one?” Our God is an intentional God seeking out the one lost sheep, the one lost coin, and the prodigal son (Luke 15). He has designed and equipped each of us with a different, yet complementary role to play in living out the Gospel (Romans 12:3-6). As each attendee prayerfully considers, “What’s my one?”, together we are able to make an impact in our world.

Here are just a few of the “ones” God led attendees to:

  • Haiti
  • Foster Dad
  • Short-term missions
  • Mentoring
  • Cambodia
  • Refugees learning English
  • Sex Trafficking
  • Strengthening a culture of life in our churches
  • China special needs adoption
  • Foster mom advocate
  • Homelessness
  • Encouraging adoptive families

 

Our prayer is that each person to whom the Lord spoke one thing would respond with prompt obedience to this call. Imagine what would happen if followers of Jesus took a stand for the hungry, the hurting and the fatherless. Let us bring that to life each and every day of the coming year!

Our deepest appreciation to each speaker, exhibitor and to the team of volunteers who planned and executed this event. Our time together was encouraging, refreshing, and equipping. We look forward to seeing you at Imagine 2018.

 

We’d love to hear your story of how God is using you, a completely ordinary person to live out His extraordinary calling to love.

Email us at connect@imagineconferencepgh.com

For encouragement and practical help living out this calling year round, be sure to subscribe to our blog.

 

 

Share this with others!

Perspectives: Understanding God’s Heart for the World

“Missions is not the ultimate goal of the church. Worship is. Missions exists because worship doesn’t. Worship is ultimate, not missions, because God is ultimate, not man.”
John Piper

Several years ago I had the privilege of taking a class at Pittsburgh Theological Seminary called “Perspectives on the World Christian Movement”. This class excited me personally, and I signed up with the hopes of gaining insight on engaging internationals right here in Pittsburgh. Missions is a great passion of mine, having received a Masters in Arts in Religion with a focus on missions at Trinity School for Ministry in Ambridge, PA. My passion has led me to build relationships with my neighbors with Muslim backgrounds, work with Campus Crusade for Christ (Cru) in Australia, engage with Pittsburgh Regional International Student Ministry (PRISM), and purposefully reach out to internationals in my neighborhood. I knew this class would only further ignite my heart for missions. I was right.

I was blown away by the class. We studied God’s heart for the unreached, the biblical call to reach the nations, the history of missions, missional approaches throughout the centuries, and we ultimately gained a deeper understanding of God.

The accessibility of the class was incredibly encouraging. The material was applicable to anyone who stepped through the door-whether a person had previous involvement in missions, worked at a church, was a lay leader in the church, or was a Christian simply wanting to learn more. I was very impacted by the class.  The content was straightforward, deeply biblical, and helped us move toward God’s heart for the world and Himself.

To my surprise several of the lessons were taught by mission-minded pastors and leaders that I had already rubbed shoulders with in the city.  I made new connections with people doing ministry in the city and learned practical next steps for engaging more intentionally with my Muslim friends in the city. It was also incredibly encouraging to see a fellow church staff member in attendance receive the nudge from the Lord to begin a prayer group for the church. They have been meeting for over a year now and have spread over to an additional church campus.

I was encouraged to hear that “Perspectives on the World Christian Movement” would be represented at the Imagine Conference this year. I want to strongly encourage anyone looking to know more about God’s heart for the world to consider participating. Do not let anything stop you from pursuing God’s call for you in this area. As I think of a Christian’s call to “proclaim the excellencies of Him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light” (1 Peter 2:9), I am also reminded of the promise made in Romans 8:31-39: nothing can “separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 8:39). As we serve God and our hearts align more closely with His, may we be reminded of the hope and security we have in Him.
“What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us?” Romans 8:31

Register for the Imagine Conference to discover more of God’s heart for the world and where you fit in.


Pat Michael, North Way Oakland Outreach Director (In Partnership with Didasko Ministries)
patm@northway.org

 

For more information on a Perspectives Class near you, click here.

Next year’s Persepectives course: January 22-May 7th 2018

Share this with others!

Transformational Urban Mission

On a warm spring day, I sat outside the main entrance of the urban church where I serve as a pastor to soak in the sunshine and also soak in the sights and sounds of the neighborhood. I have been serving this vulnerable urban neighborhood in the city of Pittsburgh for more than a decade now, and it feels like I am still learning so many new things about this place. There are many challenges facing the neighborhood. There are many assets here as well. I’ve come to learn to love this place and the people who inhabit it.

As I looked around the area directly surrounding the church ministry center, I noticed many signs of need. I saw people selling and using drugs. I saw women who were walking the streets, potentially victims of human trafficking. I saw boarded up row homes. I saw a homeless camp in a vacant lot off in the distance. I heard the sirens of police, fire, and paramedics in the area. I saw and heard other signs of poverty and brokenness.

When I looked around, though, I also saw many signs of hope in what looked like such a hard place. I saw people looking out for each other, telling jokes, stories, and, in general, having a good time enjoying such a nice day. I heard people laughing and encouraging one another. I saw busses traveling up and down the main street through the neighborhood, carrying residents to and from work and other places around town. I saw dump trucks going to and from the new home construction sites that are being built for, and with, residents of the neighborhood. I saw residents from the local seniors apartment complex strolling around the outside of the building, hoping to take in some of the neighborhood. I saw resilience in the midst of difficult circumstances.

I started to walk around the block with one of the other pastors of the church, and we had a fun time praying with people, encouraging people, and inviting everyone to join us at the church for worship services, outreach events, and Bible studies. Our church throws block parties where everyone is invited to come, just as they are. Most days we meet people right where they are at—right in the middle of a marginalized urban neighborhood that residents in the other parts of the city have written off as dangerous and troublesome.

Yes, violence and struggles are heightened in the neighborhood, but those things don’t define this place. God’s presence is strong in this little church and in this little neighborhood. The Holy Spirit’s presence was in the neighborhood long before our church arrived, and the Holy Spirit will be here long after we are gone. God is on a constant mission to redeem every person and place in the neighborhood, just like everywhere else in the world.

This church does have an important purpose in this neighborhood, though. We are here strategically. This is the place to be. It’s the place we want to be. Why would it be such a priority for us to locate our church right smack in the middle of a vulnerable urban neighborhood? Surely there are easier places to plant and grow churches. What is it about this particular place?

The leaders at our church know that the world is rapidly urbanizing. More people now live in cities than in any other places around the world. Within the next 20 or 30 years, nearly 75% of the world’s population will be urban. This shift from rural to urban represents the largest migration of human beings in the history of the world. That means that the cities of the world represent a huge opportunity for Christians to reach people who are increasingly more densely congregating together. Rapid urbanization has brought many challenges with it, though, as nearly 1 in 6 people on this planet now lives in urban poverty. Most cities around the world have not been ready for urban expansion at such an explosive pace. Billions of people around the world live in urban poverty as a result.

In response, Christians must engage cities with the good news of the gospel of Jesus Christ. Not only that, but Christians must be willing to engage urban residents living in poverty with the good news of the gospel of Jesus Christ. Nothing could be more important for modern Christians. We must learn to participate in God’s mission in hard places; especially in urban places with people living on the margins of society. These places will be the key to the spread of Christianity throughout the remainder of the 21st century and beyond.

Furthermore, God’s mission with marginalized urban people should lead to a process of transformation that takes place over the course of time. Too often in Christian circles, calls to engage in urban mission lead to transactional, short-sighted approaches that can cause more harm than good. I believe that God is calling Hs Church to build long-term, meaningful relationships that are mutually transformational in complex urban environments.

The urban church where I serve as a pastor definitely does not have it all figured out. I have seen God do remarkable works of transformation in people’s lives and in the streets where people live. I have also witnessed painful failures while experiencing the brokenness of people’s lives and the brokenness of the city’s systems first-hand. Regardless of the signs of need and the signs of hope in the great cities of today’s modern world, God is empowering his people to engage cities in creative and meaningful ways amongst people who desperately need the hope that Jesus Christ has to offer. There is no better place to participate in God’s redemptive mission than with people on the margins of the cities of the world.

Register for the Imagine Conference


Dr. Bryan McCabe, Pastor of Transformational Urban Leadership, North Way Christian Community

Share this with others!
error

Enjoy this blog? Please spread the word!