We've always said that what we do at Zion we do for Jesus and for no one else. Our greatest hope, joy and aspiration is that we would do a beautiful thing for Jesus as a church. Jesus is quite clear that "when you do your acts of charity, don't let your right hand know what your left hand is doing." So we've never sought the spotlight to promote our ministry. Oh, we've been tempted. Every week when we run short of money, we're sorely tempted to try and market our own way out. But in the end, we always believe that God will provide for what He wants to do. Sometimes we've asked the Lord why it's so hard to find the funds to help the poor and the least. He's replied consistently that He has "already provided." So, rather than market ourselves, we've laid off staff and slashed expenses and redone our budgets so that we could continue doing what we believe is a beautiful thing for Him. Through these years we've learned that fame does not necessarily lead to giving. In short, we've learned that being faithful to God and relying entirely on Him to provide is the best way to grow our faith and meet our needs.
So, you can understand why some of us would be shocked by the recent media attention we've received. We didn't seek it out. God Himself brought it.
So now we have have to ask, "Why now, Lord?" For some months now, some of us in leadership at Zion have been feeling that God wanted to "amplify" what He is doing at Zion. In other words, God wants people to see the ministry at Zion as a kind of testimony to Himself. We believe this is part of His plan to do two things: a.) Be glorified in the ministry at Zion. b.) Launch us into the next phase of our ministry: He wants Zion to become a teaching and sending church.
What is a teaching and sending church? By teaching and sending church we simply mean that we believe we are called to share the stories of God's faithfulness here in order to encourage other churches to step out in faith. We've learned a few things that we can share which are applicable in every situation. The ministry of Zion honor's God not because we serve refugees and immigrants and the poor and the least; rather, the ministry of Zion simply seeks to step out in faith and honor Him by going out into the community and engaging people where they are. Our ministry really isn't about the people we serve; it's about the God we serve. And that God wants His Church to know that. Many people have said to us, "Our church should do what you do but we don't have the people you have to serve." Being a teaching church means that we can help change that attitude to, "Just Go. God will show you your ministry, unique to you, prepared in advance for you to do, simply believe Him and trust Him and go and find it."
A sending church simply sends out people. New ministries, new churches are birthed as a result. We believe that we have people ready to go. To go to the nations, the poor, the least, the lonely, the elderly, the young, the lost, the wandering, the hard working, the lazy, the dreamers, the depressed, the artists, the sick, the prisoners, the wealthy, the middle aged, the well educated and the pre-literate. Everyone. Everywhere. Where ever we go as humans, the Spirit of God goes with us and there is ministry to be done in His name and for His glory.
Here is the article in Christianity Today:
Here is an interview with the Dr. Bill Maier Radio Show (Life Radio):
Oops. Well, I can't figure out how to load it in here. Sorry. I have it on MP3.
Here is an interview with Moody Bible Radio (Cleveland):
Well, the Christian Broadcasting Network (CBN) will be at Zion the weekend of September 17-18 to film and do interviews.
Here is what we hope is the result of the recent publicity.
1.) We hope it glorifies God. Jesus said that we were the light of the world and the salt of the earth. He said that we should "Let your light so shine before men that they would see your good works and glorify your Father who is in heaven." To God be all the glory, now and forever. Amen.
2.) We hope it encourages the Zion community. We hope we can accept this as a kind of "well done, good and faithful servant" while at the same time recognizing that we are still "unworthy servants." We've been through a lot at Zion and experienced a lot of loss and a lot of change. This is a time for us to be joyful. We hope it adds to the healing of all of us who have been on this journey together need. We have counted all things as lost. This will hopefully give us a "spring in our step" as Pastor Bob Solberg used to say.
3.) We hope it influences other churches and launches them on a journey together with Jesus to find a ministry that will glorify the Father and bless the world around us. We hope it will lead them to bless those who cannot bless them back.
4.) We hope we can take some time now to reflect on the last six years since our Mission Shift. How did we get here and why? It's time to do some reflecting and writing and contemplation.
Will this go to our heads? I don't think all of this will go to our heads. Feel free to tell us if you think it is. I think we're on mission and this is simply a part of the mission. After September, I think there will be no more coverage and we'll just go back to doing beautiful things for Jesus without any fanfare. Which is where we belong. Thanks for reading. PJ