KOH2RVA: Day 316

Anne4It was great to be back in church yesterday.

I preached the story of Mary and Martha from Luke 10:38-42 and ended up talking about “holy moments.” At the end of the sermon I asked the congregation to recognize that that very moment was a holy one—when we were all gathered together, sitting at the feet of Jesus, soaking up every word, just like Mary in the story.

But there was another holy moment that came later that afternoon.

I was in a meeting with the Associate Pastor for Communications search team, the team that is trying to find someone who can take David Powers’ place as when he retires at the end of next month. It won’t be easy. David is, in so many ways, irreplaceable. But we had a promising candidate at the table who had just asked an interesting question: “What is the mission of First Baptist Church?”

There was a brief pause, and then Anne Keo offered an answer. She started by saying that she had been at First Baptist all her life—almost literally. She was dedicated a month after she was born. She talked about her days in the youth group, when kids came to First Baptist from 36 different high schools in the area. “But since Pastor Somerville has been here,” she said, “there seems to be more of a push to be on mission where we are the rest of the week, and not only on Sunday mornings—for everyone to be a missionary.”

From the moment she said, “But since Pastor Somerville has been here,” I had been holding my breath, wondering what she would say next, but when she said that—about everyone being a missionary—I let it out in a sigh of relief.

It was a holy moment.

Because since I’ve been at First Baptist I’ve been trying to help it become a more missional church. Missional is different from “mission minded.” First Baptist has always been mission minded. We’ve been sending missionaries to other parts of the world forever, supporting them with our money and our prayers. But in the missional church everyone is a missionary, and the mission field is not only over there, but also right here where we are, where we live and work and play. This year-long, every-member mission trip called KOH2RVA is simply a way of putting that idea into action as we “labor alongside the Lord Jesus” to bring the Kingdom of Heaven to Richmond, Virginia.

Looking back on yesterday’s holy moment I realize that when Anne said there has been “a push” for everyone to be a missionary since Pastor Somerville’s arrival she didn’t say it was a good thing. She might have been wishing this pushy pastor would leave things the way they were when she was in the youth group. But I could tell from what she said later in the meeting that she was learning to think of herself as a missionary, and that she saw this as different, and much more important, than simply “coming to church.”

It seems so simple: “Everyone is a missionary.” And yet to know that in your heart, to feel it in your bones, to begin to look at the world around you through “missionary eyes” can take years. I believe Anne is getting it, and who knows how the world will be different because she is?

5 thoughts on “KOH2RVA: Day 316

  1. I would certainly add another AMEN to Lynne’s! For 70 years this fall, I have been a part of First Baptist, first in the Youth Group’s Vesper Club, then the Forum, then teaching Sunday School, working in the church library when it began, a wide variety of FBC activities and mission-minded opportunities. I have always we believed in bringing in the “Kingdom” in many ways, but I do think Jim’s enthusiasm and leadership in finding the joy in doing so in our everyday lives has been phenomenal in getting many more of us more deeply involved! Thanks, Pastor!

  2. I definitely meant a good push! The challenge for me to be a missionary every day in my own simple suburban life has challenged me to examine my faith for true understanding of Jesus’ teaching and love. It has been and still is an incredible faith journey for me. When we try to live for Christ 24/7 not just at church, our whole world changes – and I hope I help change the world around me.

  3. Anne: thanks for commenting. I borrowed your picture from Facebook and got a glimpse of your “mission field” while I was there. If all you ever do is love that beautiful family I think it would be enough, but thanks for wanting to do even more.

  4. Missionary does not have to be an appointment to a postion or a specific place or people. Missionary should be a mindset. No matter where you go you are always a missionary. Each time I eneter a classroom, a store, or a home that is the missionary field I have been assigned by God.

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