Seven years. Yep. It’s been seven years. Seven years ago today, Missio Dei Church had her grand opening at Mokena Elementary School on March 18, 2007 and I am amazed at God’s providential care throughout each and every year.
God has blessed us with the right people at the right time for the reasons. People have come. Some stayed. Some left. No matter the length, each person has left an indelible mark on this church.
Through our seasons of trials and our seasons of deep joy, we have become more Christ-dependent; reached deeper into Scripture; discovered, defined and embraced those historic boundaries that the Church has always had, and all the while, resting in God’s perfect sovereignty.
We are a people of the Book. We are convinced that God works through God’s Word. Therefore, we love marinating in and walking slowly, expositionally, and expectantly through God’s Word. We have walked through the books of Ephesians, the Gospel of Mark, 1 Timothy, Nehemiah, Acts, now through Jonah, and soon the book of Exodus.
Additionally, I have experienced tremendous growth! I also have seen my preaching progressively change over the years as I walk slowly and expectantly through Scripture. My preaching voice has become one:
- of courage to look around at our community of faith and preach the gospel not teach Christianity.
- that calls God's people to be His people.
- that will not compromise truth for the sake of stability, or security, or comfort, or even for the sake of conserving the tradition.
- that calls for radical change, even if that change is a call to throw off tradition OR to return to a vital tradition long obscured by false piety and self-righteousness.
- that will not gloss over injustice or oppression, will not be silent in the face of bigotry or prejudice or false pride
- that will settle for nothing less than holiness of heart and life as the result of faithful obedience to the voice of God not the voice of men.
I have also stopped apologizing for our size. I’ve realized that the world and our community needs churches, faithful churches and healthy churches, of every shape and size. The beautiful things is that the mission Jesus gave the church (Matthew 28:18-20) is neither size-dependent nor fulfilled by any one kind of church. Instead of focusing on numbers (yes, I know that numbers are important), I have focused our collective attention the Lord Jesus Christ and his work of salvation for all who believe accomplished through his life, death, and resurrection.
Its about a thankful heart.
One person that I need to say thank you to is my wife Laura. Seven years (plus an additional year of planning before launching) of our twelve years of marriage have been entrenched with not only being an active, thoroughly invested member of Missio Dei Church, but also in being a faithful, loving, and supportive wife, an amazing mother to Grace and Isaac, and to top all that off, she has also been the Executive Director of Camp Manitoqua. Today, I am especially thanking God for his providential care in providing me with Laura.
Additionally, I am thankful for our beautiful and patient children, Grace and Isaac, who have been involved in the life of Missio Dei Church for as long as they can remember. Before Laura and my eyes and the and the watchful care of the church, they have both grown up physically and spiritually in the church. They aren't church brats, but children with soft and pliable hearts. Each child is growing in his or her own way and at a wonderful Spirit-directed pace.
God has also blessed me with a gospel-centered group of elders and deacons. We (the elders and deacons together) have been entrusted with this particular and sometimes peculiar family of brothers and sisters to present them mature in Christ, to make disciples by reaching out to the lost, disenfranchised, and wandering, to help them dig deep into Scriptures, and raising up new leaders. Through their faithful ministry, they have blessed me and the church.
Ultimately, it is God who needs to be praised. Jesus founded this church (his bride) and is her "one foundation... She is His new creation by water and the Word." He purchased her with his own blood, is protecting her, providing for her, and directing her. God is glorified in and through the Church universal and each particular church (see the lyrics to The Church's One Foundation).
To sum this all up, I love Missio Dei Church. I have dear, dear friends who I have the privilege to minister to and who in turn minister to me. I cannot imagine doing life and ministry without them. I am looking forward to what God has in store for us all in the upcoming weeks, months and years as we continue to journey together in Christ.