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Showing items filed under “October 2013”

How We Make Disciples of Jesus and What Zion United Means

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The Zion Way: 

How we make disciples of Jesus.

 

The way we attempt to introduce people to Jesus is called STAR, an acronym for  Serve, Teach, Advocate, and Reach.

 

Serve:  Jesus told us in John 13 that the world would know that we are his disciples by the way we love.  He gave us an example for the kind of love we were supposed to have; he washed his disciples feet.  We understand that Jesus washing feet is metaphorical for those who have been given much to humble themselves and serve those with less.  When we’re talking about being given much we’re not talking about income or property or the things of this life.  We’re speaking about the fact that Christ has already given us all things and now we are so blessed by knowing him humbling ourselves in order that those who don’t know him might come to know him through us.  We understand that Jesus came not to be served, but to seek and serve the lost.  We also understand that the point of our service isn’t only evangelism, it’s also worship.  We serve others because by doing so we believe we are serving our Lord himself (Mt 25).  

 

Teach:  Teaching is really a form of serving but our society makes a distinction.  Our goal is to teach people how to live a better life.  The content of the teaching might be practical, like “How to Stock a Medicine Cabinet” or “How to Buy a House.”  Or the content might be instructive like an ESL class or English tutoring or homework help.  The content might also be spiritual and have to do with knowing Christ and his teachings.  We have many, many things to teach.

 

Advocate: Merriam-Webster’s Dictionary defines an advocate as, “one that supports or promotes the interests of another.”  Many people in our community have no one to support them or promote their interests.  They are lost in the system and falling through the cracks.  In many cases this is because they don’t understand our society, our systems, or our language.  In other cases it’s because they are discriminated against because they are a different race or color or creed.  Sometimes it’s because they are not physically or mentally able to represent themselves.  So we find ways to promote the cause of others.  Like going with them to the doctor’s office to be certain treatment is obtained and understood.  Sometimes we work within a political or organizational system to promote change.  We might go to schools or banks or realtors or immigration offices to support and encourage and promote the cause of others.  

 

Reach:  We want to reach people where they are.  It all begins with a relationship.  Many people are on the fringes of our community.  We believe that they are the ones to whom Jesus would go first.  We want to follow him to the edges of our society and reach the ones who live there.  We want to befriend them, know them, and love them.  And then, when we know them, we believe that the Holy Spirit will create an opportunity for us to share Christ with them.  

 

How we believe our own discipleship is lived out.  

Likewise, that we all learn how to:

 

Receive grace.  We must all learn how to receive grace from God and from each other.  We believe it impossible to truly give grace or love without a full knowledge and experience of receiving the grace and love of God through Jesus Christ (salvation/forgiveness) and from others (love and forgiveness). 

 

Learn.  We are all students of Jesus and will be so until the sanctifying and edifying work of the Holy Spirit is completed in us in the kingdom yet to come.  So we all need to be learners.  We need to be in the Word of God, the Bible, every day, so that we come to know everything we can about the Word of God Made Flesh, Jesus Christ.  We need to be in prayer every day, both talking to our Lord and also listening to him.  We believe that in prayer God teaches us through the Holy Spirit to understand and desire his good and gracious will.  We also need to be learning from our leaders and teachers and each other as well.  We believe that the best way to learn from Jesus is to live out his teachings, especially the parables.  

 

Reconcile.  As surely as we advocate for others, we ourselves need to be in a constant state of reconciling our relationships.  We need to be actively encouraging one another, forgiving one another, speaking the truth in love with one another.  Romans 12.

We ourselves need to be reached by the love and compassion of God through daily prayer and conversation and listening to God.  

 

Invite.  Jesus invited us to follow him.  We accepted his challenge.  So, too, we must invite others on his behalf.  “Come and see.  We have found the Lord.”  

 

Give.  “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son....”  We understand that when Jesus calls us to follow him, he calls us to give ourselves to him fully and completely.  We understand that our life is not our own, it is his, because he paid the price for us and redeemed us from sin, death and the devil.  How can we not, in turn, practice generosity of property and spirit with others?  We believe that all we have is God’s, he gave it to us.  And since it belongs to him, he has claim on it to use it for the benefit of others.  We also understand that beyond the giving of property or money, we are also called to give of our time and also that we must give grace to all because we have been shown such amazing grace by our Lord.  

 

 

Zion United:  The Concept.

We understand that Jesus has called his people to be in unity with each other and with him and then when his diverse people are seen as one in him by the world, the world will come to know that Jesus is the Messiah (John 17).  So we seek unity for the sake of  the glory of Christ with fellow Christ followers. The world seeks to make unity as difficult as possible.  Churches in the USA must be registered as corporations, non-living entities.  Except that the church is very much alive.  The Bible understands a church as a living thing, an organism, a body made up of living parts.  Corporately, (in a legal understanding), to achieve unity we would need to reconcile our boards, our bylaws, our constitutions and our bank accounts.  Followers of Jesus also come from all kinds of different cultures, languages, traditions and theological distinctives.  So when you take two bodies of Christians, it is very hard to achieve unity in all things.   

 

We are in unique situations as a church:

Several years ago, a small group of Burmese refugees who self identified as “Des Moines Mizo Christian Fellowship (DMCF),” approached us for help.  They needed both pastoral leadership and a place to meet.  We suggested that they join our church and become a part of us.  So our Mizo members identify as both Zion and DMCF.  We have also never merged bank accounts, although all accounts are in the Zion name.  We decided not to do this because the Mizo’s understanding of what the money is for is different than ours.  We might use the money to patch the parking lot.  They use the money to help their people.  This unique relationship of being one thing and another together is Zion United.   

We host a pre-school, WEE, in our building.  As such, they are identified in the community with us. This preschool is a first class operation and has an excellent reputation in our community.  They came to us in desperate need of a site.  They were homeless.  We felt led by the Spirit to offer them a place.  It’s a beautiful relationship.  They contribute a few thousand dollars a year that doesn’t actually cover the expenses of their being here.  But they bring kids into our building and find other ways to improve the property.  We don’t want to be in a landlord tenant relationship with them.  We want to be able to bless them and support them and prosper them as they serve our community.  We don’t want a corporate merger, (we don’t want to take them over),  but we seek other ways of being one together.  They are a part of Zion United and we must consider them and their needs in all our planning.  

We are seeking merger with another immigrant church from the Congo.  We will go through the same process that we wen through with the MIzo.  For a while, two types of identity will exist, but one day, we will all simply consider ourselves brothers and sisters.  This is Zion United.

We have many, many volunteers that come from other churches to help us with the ministry God has given us.  We understand that they may give money and time to us and still attend another church on Sunday morning.  But we are still in a relationship with them and them with us.  They haven’t found a church that worships as they want to but also serves as they desire.  So they really attend two churches.  This is Zion United.  We don’t need to be the only church in town. 

We serve many, many children.  Some of them attend our church exclusively.  Of these, many of their parents don’t attend any church.  We have to understand that these children are a part of who we are as a church.  There are also many children who attend an immigrant church on Sunday that can’t offer the rest of the programming we do so they attend one place on Sunday and they attend Zion during the week.  That’s OK with us.  That’s the concept of Zion United.  

 

Zion United seeks the unity of Jesus followers in our community so that they might worship, serve, witness and grow together for the glory of God.  the property.  We don’t want to be in a landlord tenant relationship with them.  We want to be able to bless them and support them and prosper them as they serve our community.  We don’t want a corporate merger, (we don’t want to take them over),  but we seek other ways of being one together.  They are a part of Zion United and we must consider them and their needs in all our planning.  

We are seeking merger with another immigrant church from the Congo.  We will go through the same process that we wen through with the MIzo.  For a while, two types of identity will exist, but one day, we will all simply consider ourselves brothers and sisters.  This is Zion United.

We have many, many volunteers that come from other churches to help us with the ministry God has given us.  We understand that they may give money and time to us and still attend another church on Sunday morning.  But we are still in a relationship with them and them with us.  They haven’t found a church that worships as they want to but also serves as they desire.  So they really attend two churches.  This is Zion United.  We don’t need to be the only church in town. 

We serve many, many children.  Some of them attend our church exclusively.  Of these, many of their parents don’t attend any church.  We have to understand that these children are a part of who we are as a church.  There are also many children who attend an immigrant church on Sunday that can’t offer the rest of the programming we do so they attend one place on Sunday and they attend Zion during the week.  That’s OK with us.  That’s the concept of Zion United.  

 

Zion United seeks the unity of Jesus followers in our community so that they might worship, serve, witness and grow together for the glory of God. 

Our Values: Numbers 5 and 6

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Don’t throw back the miraculous catch.  

In Luke 5, the soon to be first disciples of Jesus experience such a large catch of fish at Jesus’ direction that their nets begin to break and their boats begin to sink.  I suppose the temptation with too much is to toss it back and save the boat and the nets.  But instead, they signaled for more boats.  We are experiencing a miraculous catch as many are coming to Christ and following him and being baptized into new life in him.  A constant temptation is to stop and say, “This is too much, we can’t handle this.  We aren’t equipped emotionally or with enough staff, time or space to handle this.”  Instead, we choose to ask others to help so that not one of the precious ones that Jesus has brought to us will be lost.  This also reinforces our desire for unity - that we cannot bring in the catch alone but the entire Body of Christ needs to participate together.

 

We are one body, united in Jesus Christ

We are a church of individuals, different in many ways, yet called together by God to be one in ministry and mission. As members of the same body, we become more effective when we work in harmony as a unified whole (John 17:20-23). Among us, love for one another is the norm (John 13:34, Romans 13:8), conflicts are resolved according to the teaching of Jesus (Matthew 18:15-17), and we seek to build each other up (1 Thessalonians 5:11).  We seek to eliminate from our life together what is often called, “church politics.”  We don’t gossip, malign, spread false rumors, or seek to glorify anyone’s personality except Jesus. We rejoice together, and we suffer together (1 Corinthians 12:25-27).   

 

Ramblings about God, the Church and Everything.

  • after Jesus’ own heart, 
  • with relevant, Bible based teaching,
  • with passionate and authentic worship,
  • of prayer,
  • with a heart for our city and the world,
  • where the love of our Lord is evident in the way we live and minister together. 

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