Things are not turning out the way
I thought they would…
Perhaps you can relate? I thought things would be “normal” – whatever that is.
We started the year with this grand idea that God has a Vision for you and you can see it clearly in 2020 Vision! I feel like we might have missed a big piece of the puzzle when we were arranging the big picture for the next year…we didn’t realize that less than a month from finishing our visioning series there would be a huge event that will inevitably define the next decade and beyond.
As a church planter, leading our new church start, I have been thrilled with the great strides Engage Newark has been making lately in mission and ministry and worship. If you had told me in the midst of a visioning series that 4 weeks later we wouldn’t even be able to meet, I would have said you were CRAZY! Not to mention that April 1 is our 2nd birthday and we can’t even be together for it.
And yet, here we are.
So I have struggled with how can we be the church when the church can’t even meet? I have wrestled with the question: in a time like this, how can we help people increase their faith and not decrease faith? How can we help people take a step closer to Jesus and not away from Him?
Thankfully, we can draw from our 2020 Vision series to answer those questions. Never once in our series did we say the church should always meet, nor did we say anything about increasing attendance in worship (although that’s nice, it’s not necessary for being the church). What we did discuss were 5 Capitals that everyone has that can be invested for Spiritual growth:
5. Financial Capital – the least valuable capital, which is the one everyone is talking about these days due to our current economic struggles. This capital is quickly losing value even in the stock market! Times are tough for people. It is likely to be a struggle for a while until we can get back out and be around people and make purchases and create jobs again. But we are seeing how little value money has when it can not be exchanged in the open market.
4. Intellectual Capital – it has been interesting to see how people are taking their creative ideas to new levels using the available media platforms at our disposal. Humanity is so creative! Many people are investing intellectual capital to learn new forms of communication and connection with other people. And, if nothing else, I have really enjoyed the memes people are creating!
3. Physical Capital – mostly measured in time and health, physical capital has increased for many people due to the shelter-in-place order. We have more time on our hands, we aren’t so busy running to all the things that we normally run to. This is time that can be invested in spiritual growth. Health is the other aspect of physical capital. The coronavirus numbers are not good, the percentage chances of someone reading this getting the virus are pretty high, so we NEED TO TAKE CARE of ourselves and each other. Wash those hands, keep distance from each other.
2. Relational Capital – building relationships that intentionally help you and others grow. This has been a difficult part of the shelter-in-place order. At Little Arrows Play Cafe, our entire reason for existing is to build relationships with families outside of the church and now we are closed indefinitely. It has rendered us incapacitated to do what we are called to do. So we have to get creative, actually we have gone old school and we encourage you to do the same: pick up the phone and call someone, commit to call at least one person a day. You probably have more time on your hands these days, use it to grow a relationship.
1. Spiritual Capital – the most valuable capital that we have. All the previous 4 should be used to grow this most vital resource, our spiritual lives in Jesus Christ. This international crisis has driven me to be face down on the floor praying for at least 30 minutes a day, for weeks now. I’ve never been able to do that before. You don’t have to do that specifically, its just what God has led me to do, but you should be praying, and praying like you never have before!
Our current series, that just ended on March 29 was called Connect and it was all about prayer. Praying for God to give us a Breakthrough and to Heal and Restore us. If you missed them, you can listen to them by visiting our Youtube Channel, Engage Newark.
Friends, meeting together on Sunday morning is not what makes us a church. Worship does not define Engage Newark Church, although we think our worship is AMAZING, it does not define us nor limit us to being an event on Sunday mornings. We are a church because we are a people called together to a common mission, a common vision with a common Savior, and EACH and EVERY one of us has unique gifts and abilities (capitals) that we can invest for our own spiritual growth and the spiritual growth of our city.
Yes, it looks a lot different now than what we had a vision for just a few weeks ago, but our mission and our identity has not changed. We are still here to ENGAGE our city with the love and hope of Jesus Christ. Now, we just get to do it in our individual neighborhoods, by checking on our friends and neighbors. We get to do it by picking up the phone and calling someone. We get to do it online by joining Zoom calls and supporting one another.
The mission is the same, how we do it is different.
Keep investing your capitals, you are growing spiritually, so am I. There’s no-one I would rather be on this journey with than you.