Indelible Grace Church

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Indelible Grace Church Blog

What does it mean to be a missional church?

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We’ve been talking about the vision of our church for 2014 – to be outward-facing.  Another way to say this is that we seek to be a missional church. This term has gained popularity of late but is not well understood.  To be missional means to understand that modern culture has shifted.  America used to be a “Christianized” nation, meaning most people had a general but vague understanding and appreciation of Christianity.  So that evangelism was merely stirring up people to believe what they already knew.  But we now increasingly live in a “post-Christian” world, in which most people have no idea about even the basic elements of the gospel, and moreover, are suspicious of, if not hostile to, Christianity.  In other words, American Christians now find themselves in the same position that Christians in India or Japan face.  All of us live in a mission field.  And therefore, this changes the way we do church, so that our gospel presentation has to be theologically deeper and provide cogent answers to the objections our culture raises.   If we’re going to effectively reach our secular neighbors, we have to adopt a new posture of being “in mission” in every aspect of our lives.   This is an age full of promise, for our situation is more like the early church than in any other period of Western history.  It is an age full of opportunity but with many challenges.

Image: Paul preaching at Mars Hill by Raphael.

 

IGC Vision 2014

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Years ago, I read Stephen Covey’s self-help book, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People.  I don’t remember much except the counsel that the main thing is to keep the main thing the main thing.  You would think this is a bit of unnecessary redundancy.  But for people as well as churches, it’s incredibly easy to get sidetracked and forget what the main thing is.  For IGC, the main thing is the gospel.   And so we seek to be gospel-centered in teaching, community, and other-orientedness.  On this third area, we've looked for these past two weeks at how we can be an outward-facing church through mission and mercy.

Mission
From July 25 - August 2, we’re going to send a short-term missions team to Haiti.  This Sunday, Pastor Wade will give a presentation on the details of that trip.   I hope you will prayerfully consider going out this summer and support this team with resources and prayer.

Mercy
I will be leading a "Mercy Study Group" that will meet once a month to discuss various readings on the theology and pragmatics of helping the poor.  The study group will last six months and is open to anyone.   In the end, we’ll be asking – how can we engage the poor in the East Bay?  What practical steps can we make as a church to lift up even a single family out of poverty?  This study will begin in February.

Last Updated on Saturday, 25 January 2014 12:27
 

Christianity is a Rescue Religion

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I just recently read If God, Then What? by Andrew Wilson.  And I came across something I’ve never considered before.  Andrew Wilson writes that only Judeo-Christianity claims that God will rescue the world.  Here’s how he puts it: "I mean, lots of people talk about a God or gods, and an afterlife and religious behavior, but the idea of salvation by grace is found only in the Jewish and Christian Scriptures.  This was so surprising to me when I first realized it, and it’s still such a strange idea, that it’s worth saying again: in most religions, people don’t really talk about being ‘saved’ or ‘rescued’ at all, because there’s no concept of that. Almost all other religions believe that things continue in endless cycles or that all the good guys parachute out to paradise. The idea of the world being redeemed and set right, with human evil finally dealt with and death overcome…" that is unique to the Bible.

I think Andrew Wilson is absolutely right.  Christianity is unique among the world’s religions in that it envisions a God who will rescue this world.  Not that we will float up to some ethereal heaven, away from this broken world.  But that this broken world will be set to right and there will be a New Earth and a redeemed, resurrected people.  It’s a beautiful vision of a world restored and all sadness undone – a new creation where the mountains will drip with wine, the trees will clap for joy, the deserts will flow with living water, and there will be shalom.  The Bible says that this has already begun in the resurrection of Jesus Christ, and in the hearts of all who follow him, and that one day, it will come to full fruition when the King returns.

Even if you don’t believe this, don’t you want this to be true?

Last Updated on Thursday, 16 January 2014 16:41
 

Summer-in-Review 2013

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Photo Caption:
Top left: Women's Fellowship Tea Party
Top middle: BBQ Picnic at Valley View Park
Top right: Mercy Ministry at Emergency Shelter Program
Middle left: Men's Fellowship Hike
Middle: Your typical summer day at IGC
Middle right: Women's Summer Retreat
Bottom left: Men's Summer Retreat
Bottom middle: Church at the Park (Palomares Hills Park)
Bottom right: Mercy Ministry at Alameda Food Bank

You can also see our 2012 summer-in-review here.

Last Updated on Sunday, 15 September 2013 15:40
 

Letter from Andrew Ong

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Dear Indelible Grace Church,

Grace and peace to you.  I thank God that He has blessed me with a church that I can call my own "home church" when I’m back in the Bay Area.  Thank you for taking me in as more than just "that summer intern," but as a brother, a friend, and a partner in the gospel ministry.  Joining the fellowship of the IGC community has refreshed and revitalized my soul over these past 3 months in more ways than you know.

It was an absolute joy and pleasure to serve and worship with all of you.  Thank you also for serving me as well with all the kind words of affirmation, the sweet and thoughtful community group send off, and the incredibly generous, undeserved, and unexpected financial support.  I looked forward to coming home this summer to be a blessing to IGC, but had no idea how much more I would be blessed by the whole church community.  Serving and worshiping at IGC was never an unwanted burden, but always such a delight to me and made me all the more excited to become a pastor.

Thank you also for being such a gospel-saturated community.  Maybe I’m just emo, but never have I been brought to tears on a weekly basis as I came to sing God’s praises with His people.  It was such a beautiful thing to praise Him corporately within a community that was so keenly aware of the love of God poured out for sinners and demonstrated at the cross of Christ.  Not only was Sunday worship a blessing, but so also were the community group meetings, which I eagerly anticipated every week.  Sharing with one another, praying for one another, serving each other, and even joking with each other was such a blessing and refreshment to me as I often get very lonely in Philly.  I already can’t wait to come back and join you all!

Lastly, I wanted to thank Pastor Michael, Wade, Harry, and Sammy for leading our church with such underappreciated and unnoticed love, diligence, and wisdom.  You guys are truly blessed to be led by such men who love Christ and His gospel, and are working harder than you know to make sure that our church is continually moving in the direction of Christ’s likeness.  Witnessing their tireless efforts towards tedious administration, teaching preparation, and compassionately caring for members of the church has shown me what ministry is like in all of its ugliness, and yet has lifted my eyes to see that only Christ is the perfect leader of the church.  Thankfully the Good Shepherd works through His imperfect under-shepherds for the good of His bride, the church, and I got to witness that firsthand here at IGC, this summer.

Again, thank you for taking me into your fellowship, and I can’t wait to come back!

Love,
Andrew Ong

P.S. - Please take good care of my special friend while I’m gone! :)

Andrew is currently a third-year student at Westminster Theological Seminary in Philadelphia.

Last Updated on Friday, 06 September 2013 09:56
 


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