A post from Restoration member Connally Gilliam:
Thinking about coming to the cookout on June 12th, 4:30-6:30, at the church (even if it’s after your World Cup party)? I hope so. Not just because there will be good food, awesome music by Matt and friends, a moonbounce for kids, and sign-ups for service opportunities… though all that’s true. But I hope you’ll come because when you show up, your presence intrinsically helps shape “outreach” at Restoration. How do you help? Well, we need your brain, your muscles, and your heart. We are in the process of figuring out this outreach thing, together, and it’s not always crystal clear. Sometimes moving forward in 21st century outreach can feel like riding a track where the rails threaten to split off into two, train-wrecking directions (as they did back in the early 20th century).
You know the story: one rail of the church’s outreach is shaped by God’s call to “spend ourselves on behalf of the hungry and satisfy the needs of the oppressed” (Isaiah 58:6-10) even as we “look after orphans and widows” and live a life with some sacred boundaries (James 1:27). But it can seem at odds with the other rail governed by commands to “make disciples of all nations,” baptizing people and teaching them to obey Jesus’ teaching (Matthew 28:18-20) because we are “Christ’s ambassadors,” called to implore others to be “reconciled to God” (2 Corinthians 5:16-21). And it’s so much easier to let the rails veer off into an either/or split than to hold them together. But as history teaches us, that wrecks the kingdom’s advance. So it’s up to each generation to figure out what holding these two together looks like and give it our best shot.
So, how does your showing up help? When you, your friends, and your family (if you have one in town) show up, and when–against the backdrop of kids playing, music happening, and David giving a few words–you start munching on a burger and begin randomly asking your neighbor, “So, what do you think about all this outreach stuff? What is spending ourselves on behalf of the hungry? What does it look like to implore others to be reconciled to God? How do these things fit together?”, and when you make one small step forward as a result, you are actually helping Restoration shape its outreach vision and practice. Outreach at Restoration isn’t just an ad hoc committee throwing cookouts and creating volunteer opportunities (though particular thanks to the hard workers like Dietrich Kuhlmann and Kristin Cummins for making it possible!). Rather, any real outreach will be the sum total of all the people who show up, have a few honest conversations, and risk trying something new in their (in our) communities, on many levels.
Will local outreach emerge into something more than serving Arlington in concrete ways? Yep, it will (for some ideas, check out my latest blog entry to get an idea of the kind of thinking that some of us are trying out and beginning to grow in). But, it also won’t be any less. We really do want our church (that would be all of us) to intentionally join in the advance of God’s kingdom by moving with loving integrity along these two rails. And honestly, it will be better, and we’ll go a far greater distance with a lot more joy, as we do it together.
To help with food, contact Kristin Cummins at firstname.lastname@example.org.
For general questions, contact Connally Gilliam at email@example.com.
Please RSVP for the cookout here.