A Word from Walker
When Summer transcends to Fall we make some joyful adjustments. Some women get fired up about decorating their homes with all the comforting colors of this season, and even start cranking up their baking prowess. Others schedule their weekends around when their favorite college football team plays. Those of us who hunt divide the coming months into bow, muzzleloader and rifle seasons. Fall excites people, even if just about a sense of relief from the pounding heat and stifling humidity of August.
Fall is also a busy time. We get kids back into school; jump into the fourth quarter of business with a new vigor in order to try to finish the year in a flurry, and get ready for the coming avalanche of school programs, church events and family gatherings that all somehow seem to get crammed into a short three months. I get a little tired just writing about all of these things. I know that as I age I really want to simplify my life and learn how to say a polite “no” to superfluous activity. You can get so overwhelmed with options and invitations that all the fun is taken out of times that should in essence be celebratory.
With that in mind, your Association always seeks to be a blessing rather than a burden. We recognized last year that we would probably have to cancel a lot of events for a while, not only because of the worry over exposing people to COVID but also because of what we are now calling “the COVID hangover.” Essentially, this means experiencing the cumulative weight of having to constantly adjust to the seemingly never-ending uncertainties of living in a pandemic while navigating in the turbulent political and even personal waters of debates over masks and vaccines. People are just plain tired and in many cases unmotivated to do much.
We understand. This Fall, we have limited our large group meetings to our Annual Meeting (October 19th); a Men’s Banquet (November 8th); Youth Retreat (November 19-21); and Toy Stores (the first two weeks in December). Our hope is that you will see this level of sensitivity we have for pastors and church members and take advantage of these important events. I know that eventually we will come out of this. We are making plans for 2022 in how to leverage a pent up demand for meaningful programs to help our churches rise out of the pandemic environment to do ministry in new and better ways. In the meantime, let me encourage you to take advantage of these sessions. Each has a special purpose designed to inform, encourage and inspire you in your walk with Jesus Christ.
This has been a tough year for all of us. We at the PMBA are here for you and are grateful for partnership.
In fact, James, Peter, and John, who were known as pillars of the church, recognized the gift God had given me, and they accepted Barnabas and me as their co-workers. They encouraged us to keep preaching to the Gentiles, while they continued their work with the Jews. Their only suggestion was that we keep on helping the poor, which I have always been eager to do.
-Galatians 2:9-10, NLT
This passage in Galatians is so rich in context as we find ourselves in this strange flux of passion for the Gospel, Covid concerns and fears that assail our world, and the ever-changing rules of engagement as we seek to effectively reconcile the two. Paul had once been enemy number one of the church and now was fervently declaring the glory of God. Peter was trying to figure out how the realities of the Gospel impacted the lives of the Jewish people and how he needed to syncretize (not typically a good word) the old and new or completely do a hard reboot and start over. In addition to Peter’s inner turmoil, Paul had a great passion burning to see a movement of multiplication within his influence. There were so many growing pains in the life of the early church, but God was faithful to navigate each step with them in the power of the Holy Spirit.
In the midst of it all we see the church affirming Paul’s preaching and teaching of the Gospel while also reminding him to care for those in need. Studying that tension in scripture reminds me of a graphic (see next page) that was developed by the PMBA to help us all to envision and foster focus in our labors. It is called the concentric circles of engagement. These levels of engagement are described as transactional, transformational, and translocational. There is not sufficient space to adequately describe them all here, so we will simply begin with the transactional.
It would seem in the scope of ministry that exists across the region that there are many organizations and even churches who embrace the need to give that cup of cold water in Jesus’ name. While many have great intentions and goals of addressing the physical and emotional needs within a community, they often have a fear of “offending” others with the Gospel. While the nature of the Gospel can be offensive at times to some, the calling for the Church to spread the Good News has not changed. Unless the rocks cry out, they need to be hearing God’s truth from God’s people first and foremost. There are also some contexts and agencies that make this more challenging due to the political nature of a collaboration, but that does not mean that we cannot still find ways to communicate God’s great love in ways that may be more subtle in nature.
Transactional ministry embraces this reality with the goal of still seeing people exposed to the viral nature of the Good News. Matthew 25:35-45 details how helping those who are hungry, naked, or in prison is comparable to directly serving Jesus. This theme recurs often in Jesus' life as he cares for the whole person and meets them where they are at the point of their need. This also tends to be the most accessible point for churches and individuals to begin serving the community.
As you begin to consider these concentric circles of engagement for community impact ministries, how is God leading you? Are there already bridges being built to address such needs? Have you established some relationships through transactional ministry that may lead to other parts of the diagram such as transformational or translocational ministry? If all of this is a bit overwhelming, there’s good news! We are here to help you sort it all out. Contact the PMBA today to learn more about how God wants you to connect in your community!
Until He comes…go!