Prayers & News:
Prayers of Supplication
Prayers of Thanksgiving
The Church is the Root of Missions
As we prepare to gather for Summer Training July 17-23rd in Midwest City, OK, let's look again at our theme PROCLAIM! from the letter of the Apostle Peter to Christians scattered throughout the world. Especially in light of gathering in local churches for our Training, let's look at what Peter has to say about the Church and Mission.
Peter says, "Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you... Since you have been born again, not of perishable seed but of imperishable, through the living and abiding word of God... And this word is the good news that was preached to you" (1 Peter 1:3-4, 23, 25). The only place we find this phrase "born again" in all of Scripture is in John 3 - Jesus' discourse with Nicodemus - and here in 1 Peter. In John 3:3, 5-6, Jesus says, "Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God," and again, "Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God. That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit." Jesus is talking about Baptism here - the birth of water and the Spirit. Since Peter is quoting Jesus (there's no one else who says this, so he must be quoting Jesus), that's what Peter is referring to. And Paul speaks the exact same in Titus 3:4-8: "But when the goodness and loving kindness of God our Savior appeared, he saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to his own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit, whom he poured out on us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that being justified by his grace we might become heirs according to the hope of eternal life. This saying is trustworthy, and I want you to insist on these things..."
The Church instituted by Jesus - that is, the place where those who stand in the office of the Apostles proclaim their witness and administer the Sacraments that proclaim the voice of Jesus to the congregation gathered by the Word of God in Christ - is the place of mission. Again and again throughout his letter, Peter will return to the Baptism we received through the hands of the elders and shepherds leading the Church (1 Peter 5:1-2). And that Baptism is never about leaving a person alone in their faith. We don't want to preach the Gospel to someone and just leave them on their own. Baptism unites us into the body of Christ, as a congregation of believers united around he who is our head. That means that in our witness and evangelism, we should always seek to connect people to the local congregation - a branch of the Church living in the vine who is Jesus (John 15:5) - where they can be fed and strengthened continually in Word and Sacrament as part of a body - not as a lone Christian.
That's why we insist on working with local congregations in our witness training in OAFC. We know that anyone can go out and PROCLAIM! to anyone, anywhere, about the Gospel. We know that everyone, no matter where they are, can believe - even if it's their last hours, lonely on a cross like the man next to Jesus. But we also know that the standard and expectation of Christ is bringing people into the Church. So OAFC always seeks to work with local congregations to connect the people with whom we share the Gospel to local congregations for Word and Sacrament ministry.
That's also why we in OAFC are so very grateful to congregations who open their doors to this ministry for the opportunity to give youth a place to grow in their faith and to share the Gospel. So we give a big Thank You to all of the congregations and members who have opened their doors and houses and neighborhoods to OAFC youth and adults over the years - because you've helped in the sharing of the Gospel as Jesus intended and also helped to instill in youth the love of the Church and the knowledge that the Church is the root of all missions. God bless. you as you and we PROCLAIM!