Our God is a God of transformation. Therefore, the church of God should be transforming as well. We have been transformed to be transformers; blessed to be a blessing; forgiven, that we may forgive; given love to give love. Love is transforming! Sacrifice & service are transforming! Faith is transforming! Prayer is transforming! A transformed Apostle Paul wrote, “Three things will last forever—faith, hope, and love—but the greatest of these is love” [1 Corinthians 13]. Love is the more excellent way! Jesus gave us two commandments. “You must love the LORD your God with all your heart, all your soul, all your strength, and all your mind.' And, 'Love your neighbor as yourself” [Luke 10:27]. It is by our love that the world will know that we belong to Christ.
The church paradigm is in dire need of change or adjustment. The effectiveness of the church has been steadily declining. In many urban centers the phenomenon of gentrification has also been a catalyst of decline. Many church facilities sit idle throughout the week. Most of their activities are on Sunday and maybe one or two evenings during the week. The question is, how far from the maximal use are most churches? With a loss of congregants comes a loss of operational funds.
The operation of some churches has become a vicious cycle. The church requires tithes and offerings to be able to sustain its operations. However, if the church catered exclusively to the needy, it may not be able to support both its operational needs, as well as the needs of the community. Consequently, the needy may be left out while the church pursues the more affluent. The needy take up space and resources, but can’t really contribute. How can a church be the catalyst for transformation, when it has little to no means of supporting and transforming the church itself? Perhaps, it is time to do church a new, more productive way.
I believe that the church, outside of worship, must become more business minded, in order to generate capital. Greater access to capital will enable the church to support the needy and its community in much greater ways. Rather than have a building dedicated to worship alone, perhaps the building should be for-profit and the worship part of the church can remain non-profit. The facility can/should offer many types of services that can bring in funds. For instance: banquets, plays, meeting space, event planning, etc. The worship side of the church can rent space from the business side of the church. In other words, in order to survive and be more effective in the community, the church is going to have to think far outside the paradigm it now finds itself in.
Pastor Joe Daniels of Emory UMC, Washington DC is making his church “REAL.” “REAL” is an acronym that stands for Relevant, Enthusiastic, Authentic, and Loving, which comes from his book, The Power of REAL, Changing Lives, Changing Churches, Changing Communities. According to Daniels, as a catalyst of change, in a REAL church, the Holy Spirit can create a revival that transforms lives, communities, and the world, in the name of Jesus. Pastor Daniels is engaging the community, as well as private and public entities to reach the vision and goals of Emory. He is utilizing for-profit and non-profit endeavors, as well as, community service and community development. Pastor Daniels is striving for the beloved community.
In Dr. King’s vision of the beloved community, there is justice for all! In the beloved community, love rules! In the beloved community, truth speaks to power! Like Jesus, we must speak to people’s needs! If they hunger-feed them! If they are sick-heal them! If they are broken, make them whole!
This is the Power! This is the Passion! This is the Promise! This is the Purpose that we will bring to this ministry of service and love! For evenin times like these, I still hold to hope! Hope sees the invisible! Hope seeks the intangible! Hope achieves the impossible! “Hope always precedes change! Hope is indispensable when it comes to transformation” [Adam Taylor]! So hold on to your faith and inspire others to do the same! Faith leads to hope! Hope produces action! Action leads to change & transformation!”
Except the LORD build the house, they labour in vain that build it: except the LORD keep the city, the watchman waketh but in vain” [Psalm 127:1, KJV]. Except the Lord build this ministry, our struggle will be in vain! Let us persevere through hard work, produced by faith! Let us persevere through labor, prompted by love! Let us persevere through endurance, inspired by hope! Let us persevere through struggles, overcome by sacrifice! And when we’ve done all we can do to stand, let us just stand and watch the victory of the Lord!
Agape Deliverance Ministries (ADM) would be a holistic minisry, with a theological homiletic of proclamation, witness, and testimony. Proclaiming the Gospel of Jesus the Christ. Living as witnesses of the Gospel. Engaging others through our testimonies. ADM will be a ministry that follows the true Pauline model. This holistic paradigm would include a pastoral care model for the county. That is a model of caring, not mere proselytizing. A ministry of presence. Visiting those sick and shut-in. A ministry of restoration. Advocating restorative justice for the returning citizen. A ministry of environmental justice. A ministry that addresses the policy actions of the county leaders. A ministry of hope. Not only should the church be concerned with one’s salvation, but also with reconciling one with the other, and the redemption of our communities. We seek to do our part to bring about the beloved community. A community characterized by compassion and justice.