by Clarence Rempel, WDC Conference Minister
I read the Bible now as the story of God’s loving patience and unrelenting persistence in redeeming, reconciling, and restoring humanity. God called Abraham in order that all peoples on earth would be blessed with the salvation mercies of God (Genesis 12:3). Though God’s chosen people messed up again and again and chased after their own salvations in their own ways, God never gave up.
In fact, God was so intent on the success of this redeeming mission that God came in person to reveal to us the fullness of God’s saving grace and the expansiveness of God’s shalom restoration (John 1:14). We experience the love of God in Jesus’ healing, transformative ministry. We experience God’s great love in that “while we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8). Some of us were churched, religious, self-righteous sinners like the Apostle Paul. Some of us were unrighteous, arrogant sinners, consumers of money, sex, and power. But God’s love pursued us and didn’t give up. And now we are, I am, inside the story of God’s redeeming, reconciling, restoring action.
God’s heart for distressed humanity is shaping my heart. In Luke 14 God is like a man who prepared a great banquet and the town folk were invited, but they all had last minute excuses for not coming – I got land; I got a new truck; I got a wife. The man says, “Go, invite the poor, the crippled, the blind and the lame. Go to the broken. Invite the suffering.” There was still room. The man says, “Go out to the roads and country lanes and compel them to come in, so that my house will be full” (Luke 14:23). God’s deep down heart desire is that the lost be found; the disconnected embraced; the broken restored. Compel them to come in.
Furthermore, when people are invited to the salvation banquet of God, they are called to be together, to share fellowship, to share food, to share life. Jesus came to build a church (Matthew 16:18) – the family of God, the body of Christ, the temple of the Holy Spirit.
God’s redemptive mission is not only the replication of disciples; it is also the replication of churches. God’s redemptive mission is deeply personal and profoundly sociological – new churches for new believers and new churches for new shalom restoration opportunities. This is God’s heart for the redemption of the world, and it has shaped my heart for church multiplication.
Western District Conference has joined in God’s mission in being one of the more active conferences in planting new churches. One of our three core tasks is networking Anabaptist church planting partnerships. To support and sustain this ministry, the Executive Board is proposing a Church Planting Commission to the delegate Assembly in Waxahachie, TX, July 4-6. See the proposal on our website at https://mennowdc.org/conference-life/annual-assembly/