May 21, 2013

A weekly communication for:

WDC Churches and Pastors

WDC Executive Board, Commission, Committee and Task Force members

 Any content may be used in bulletins and newsletters and forwarded to congregational leaders and members.

WDC Sprouts is also available at:  www.mennowdc.org (Publications)


*A Church for the World

A Church for the World, by Gilberto Flores

The book of Acts tells us that the kingdom of God is the core component of the good news. The evangelists, particularly Luke, do not try to explain or define the kingdom. Their teaching invites us to experience the kingdom. “See, the kingdom of God is like the mustard seed.” The reign of God comes inconspicuously, quietly, and yet has a grand, powerful impact. “Look for it; listen to it; proclaim it; experience it.”

Acts is the history of proclaiming this kingdom of God and its movement across the known world. The kingdom was first proclaimed to Jews, but then the good news moved out to all nations. This proclamation to the Gentiles created a huge challenge for the emerging Christian church. Gentiles had different assumptions about God and how gods function. Their ethnic gods were very different than the One Jesus’ witnesses proclaimed.

Jesus’ witnesses were conflicted about how to approach people from other cultures. It was a particular problem for those who remembered Jesus saying, “Do not go among the Gentiles or enter any town of the Samaritans. Go rather to the lost sheep of Israel” (Matthew 10:5b, 6). Jesus had sent them to proclaim the good news of the kingdom to their own communities first!  How could they ignore that commission?

On the other hand, Jesus announced that when the Holy Spirit comes, the disciples will be witnesses beyond Jerusalem and Judea to Samaria and to the ends of the earth (Acts 1:8). And at the end of the book we find the Apostle Paul in Rome proclaiming the kingdom of God and teaching about Jesus Christ (Acts 28:31). The geography of Paul’s travels helps us see how the Holy Spirit moved the church into the world crossing cultural boundaries. The book of Acts begins in Jerusalem and ends in Rome demonstrating the obedience of the disciples to Jesus’ commission, “Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit (Matthew 28:19).

To go first into their own communities was a good idea in the beginning. Luke 10 recalls the time Jesus sent seventy disciples into nearby communities. The disciples proclaimed the kingdom challenging the current loyalties of the listeners. A new kingdom suggested a new set of responsibilities and obligations. A decision to commit to God as Lord and his coming reign was hard for people to accept and provoked reactions. It was good training for those disciples and prepared them for the coming challenges in the world.

After Jesus’ departure, the disciples moved into Jerusalem. It was an appropriate decision. They needed to recompose their inner community of faith. They needed to resolve issues and clear the table of past difficult experiences. After the visitation of the Holy Spirit, they developed a formative and inspirational community in Jerusalem. It was excellent preparation for things to come – persecution and exile into the Mediterranean world. They were booted out of the Judean ghetto and became an open and welcoming community of faith, the salt and light of the world. They developed the competencies in Jerusalem to use their wonderful Christian tradition as a resource to transmit the good news of the kingdom of God and invite people from outside the community to become part of a new humanity.

The community of faith in Jerusalem developed core practices to grow as disciples of Jesus. In Acts 2:42-47 we read, “They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer.” They worshipped together. They shared in mutual aid. And they invested time and efforts into witnessing about Jesus every day.

In the church discernment counsels of Acts 6 and 15 we see the progressive extension of the church. In Acts 8 Philip plants a church in Samaria, a half Jewish community. In Acts 10-11 Peter takes the good news to Cornelius and his family, to Gentiles. The Hellenists in Antioch proclaim the gospel beyond their Jewish relatives. And beginning in Acts 13 Paul and Barnabas spread the gospel to Asia Minor (Turkey).

The journey of the church in Acts is a good pattern for our own Christian/church journey.

  1. Proclaim the kingdom of God, the core message of the gospel of Jesus Christ.
  2. Rediscover the value of our Christian tradition as the source of encouragement for our mission in the world.
  3. Move from a ghetto mentality to building bridges to a broken world.
  4. Keep the balance between inner community life and proactive ministry with the external community.
  5. Function more like agents of Jesus in a world that is less interested in what organized church is about. Proclaim the immeasurable blessing of Jesus the Christ, who is the real center of the gospel.

WDC Announcements

1.  Coming Soon!  It’s almost time for our absolutely stunning and amazingly fun summer youth camps at Camp Mennoscah!  Camps start June 9, so there’s still time to grab a friend and send in your registration forms.  Our theme this summer is All Things New: Look What God is Doing!  We’re also celebrating the Year of the Bible, so when you get the scriptures for the summer–start memorizing!  We really can hardly wait these next two weeks before camps start.  Find more information at www.campmennoscah.org

2.  Whoop-de-doodle!  We’ve got Family Camp!  Camp Mennoscah is re-introducing Family Camp this summer, July 27-28.  It’s inter-generational!  Monty & Hope Graber will lead us in a weekend of fun and family.  Be prepared for all sorts of great stuff.  Questions?  Contact us at campmno@mennowdc.org or 620-297-3290.  More information will be coming soon!

3.  Missing–Two Nurses!  Camp Mennoscah is needing one nurse each for the weeks of July 14-20 and July 21-27.  Nurses receive a stipend or a camper discount.  Spend some time in the company of the next generation of cool folks while dispensing bandages, bug spray, and sunscreen!  We’d be sad and sticker-ful without our nurses.  Contact Camp Mennoscah at 620-297-3290 or campmno@mennowdc.org or more information.  Nurses are some of our camp heroes!

Kansas Announcements
All pastors are invited to a meeting to discuss the future of Health Ministries being extended to smaller towns across Harvey County on June 5 at 9 am at Halstead (KS) United Methodist Church, 511 Chestnut.  For more information, contact Peter Wintermote:  316-708-0309.

MC USA Announcements
Please put this announcement in your church bulletin:  Are you a deacon, serve on your congregation’s visitation or pastoral care team? graduated from seminary more than 20 years ago? a chaplain? curious about your own family dynamics? The Family Systems and Pastoral Care course at Anabaptist Mennonite Biblical Seminary-Great Plains Extension in North Newton, Kansas, May 28-June 8 is for you. Class meets Tue. and Thurs. evenings and two Saturday—June 1 and 8. Special rates for auditors and people over 65. Register at www.ambs.edu/academics/Great-Plains-courses.cfm for GP:CHM631 or email Lois Barrett, director; lbarrett@ambs.edu; Elizabeth Raid, recruitment assoc., eraid@ambs.edu.

Western District Conference

2517 North Main, PO Box 306

North Newton KS  67117

316-283-6300; FAX:  316-283-0620

Email:  wdc@mennowdc.org

Website:  www.mennowdc.org