By: Matthew Deitner
I don’t want to alarm anyone but enCompass seems to have a problem. As problems go it’s a good one to have. From the very beginning we had made up our minds that we wanted to be a church that impacted the local and global community positively for the Kingdom of God. We intended to do that through both the time that we spend serving and the gifts that the church receives. The problem that we realized existed is that we lacked a clear strategy for how to do exactly that; how do we determine what other ministries we partner with? How do we determine where God is calling us to build his Kingdom? How we do determine where we invest our time and money?
These are questions that we still may not be able to answer definitively. However, under the direction of Pastor Kevin and the church board a group of us have been meeting over the past 18 months to start diving into these questions and attempt to come up with a better framework for thinking through some of these questions. Stan Sveen, Brenda Wetzel, Curt Rosen, Caren Nicholson, and myself have committed to doing some reading (When Helping Hurts by Steve Corbett and Brian Fikkert, if you need some recommendations for your own library) and talking through these questions and others to determine where our time and money is best invested in impacting the local and global community for the Kingdom of God. As we have gone through this process we’ve identified 5 main principles that we believe should guide our church as we explore new opportunities.
Ever tried taking on a huge project on your own? How did that turn out for you? In my experience it doesn’t end well. That’s why we want to be committed to being in a partnership with those we serve. The basic way we understand partnership is that we and the people we serve are both bringing something to the relationship. It’s not a relationship where we give and they take. And it’s not merely a financial transaction.
In my work as a chaplain I always look for someone else to have some “skin in the game.” They need to have just as much invested in a successful outcome as I do. This accomplishes two crucially important things. One, it keeps me from burning out. Two, it adds some dignity into the process for those we are serving.
For these two reasons we are looking for any impactful opportunity we have to be a partner with those we serve.
This is where the congregation as a whole comes in. We want the church community members of enCompass to be excited and involved with what we are supporting. Because let’s face it, it’s kind of embarrassing when you’re telling a story of something you’re excited about and nobody seems to care. Things seem to work better when we are working in areas that excite us.
We also believe that for any new opportunities we have to impact the world there needs to be a leader. As a former pastor I can say that it’s not fun to try and lead every single ministry by yourself (see principle number 1, partnership). We want to see church community members step up and lead the things they are excited about leading. We want to see people “champion” the cause that they are passionate for.
4. Fills a Gap
We start by asking questions. What people group is currently underserved? What need does our community (locally and globally) have that is going unmet? Will our support make a meaningful difference?
We don’t want to be a community that does what everyone else is doing simply because it’s the latest headline. We want to take a closer look at who isn’t being served and how we could make the greatest impact.
5. Serves Materially poor
Finally, we want to serve those who are materially poor. There’s a lot of poverty in the world in the emotional and spiritual realm and we don’t want to ignore that. But we have come to a belief that addressing the emotional or spiritual poverty of a person begins with alleviating some of the stress that comes with being materially poor. I come into contact with people daily who are in need of the things that some of us take for granted such as food and shelter. It’s nearly impossible to start talking to them about the Kingdom of God while they are still lacking the bottom half of Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. Our hope and belief is that as we work to alleviate some of these needs people will hear the Gospel and start to move towards emotional and spiritual wholeness.
So that’s what we’ve been discussing. Over the next four weeks we’ll be discussing some of these principles in Sunday Connect groups as well as the morning messages. We want to hear from you. What principles make sense to you? What, if anything, do you see as important to add to this list? Where do you personally feel the urge to make an impact in the Kingdom of God?