You are rising like the perfectly fitted stones of the temple; and your lives have been built up together upon the foundation laid by the apostles and prophets. Best of all, you are connected to the Head Cornerstone of the building, the Anointed One, Jesus Christ himself! This entire building is under construction and is continually growing under his supervision until it rises up completed as the holy temple of the Lord himself. (Ephesians 2:20–22; The Passion Translation)
“Under construction” is an especially fitting description of our lives and the local and global Body of Christ. Everywhere you look you can see God at work in the midst of today’s uncertainties … and God’s building is growing in unexpected ways.
We are continually amazed at God’s ongoing construction project: some great wiring is being installed! We find ourselves connected to God’s people every day through Ethernet cables, routers, switches, email, messaging services, cloud storage and teleconferencing software in ways we couldn’t have imagined even a year go. In a typical week, we may have 10 or more face-to-face discussions (usually through Zoom) with partner leaders in four or five different countries. We send and receive countless emails (seriously), we’re part of multiple WhatsApp and Signal messaging groups, and our cloud storage accounts have shared folders full of documents that are being accessed and collaboratively edited by scores of people in various parts of the globe.
A good example of what is possible with all this new wiring is the strategic planning initiative we’re facilitating with leaders of Steb-DF (the Baptist Theological Seminary for the Federal District of Brazil). Their deep desire is to prepare pastors and leaders to disciple church members and bless their neighbourhoods in Jesus’ name in practical ways.
We mentioned in our last ministry update that this initiative was about to start; praise God, a lot has been accomplished in the last couple of months. We are working with Seminary leaders to guide a working group that conducted 51 appreciative inquiry interviews with students, faculty, pastors and leaders of the National Baptist Convention of Brazil — all working through Zoom, WhatsApp and a shared folder on GoogleDrive. We are part of a smaller editorial team that is listening to God speak through all that data about the identity and future direction of Steb-DF, and preparing a draft strategic plan.
While working on this project in Brazil, we heard from leaders of the Baptist Theological Seminary in Quito, Ecuador (an IM partner) that they wanted to develop a strategic plan, too — so we arranged a Zoom meeting between the Brazilian (speaking Portuguese) and Ecuadoran (speaking Spanish) seminary leaders. It was exciting to see God at work through these connections as these leaders shared their experiences with each other!
A second and very different example of these newly possible connections is Bruce’s participation in a book study group hosted by Royersford Baptist Church in Pennsylvania. Colleague Stan Slade invited Bruce to join the group to discuss The Shrewd Samaritan: Faith, Economics, and the Road to Loving Our Global Neighbor by Bruce Wydick. The group is currently working through Surprise the World: The Five Habits of Highly Missional People by Michael Frost. Bruce recommended this book because Frost presents five “missional habits” that help us share God’s love with those around us in practical ways. For this study, the church’s Moderator and Bruce are co-facilitating — from different sides of the world and all through Zoom. Is this a book your small group might enjoy?
These two stories are good examples of the modern face of God’s redemptive, empowering mission “from everywhere to everyone.” God’s mission is the same, but how we participate in and connect with the worldwide Body of Christ is being transformed and enabled by lots of new wiring!
Ann and Bruce
P.S. — if we can help you or your church family connect with and participate in God’s mission locally or globally, please let us know. We’re only an email, message or Zoom meeting away.
Let’s praise God that:
Please pray for: