How does God use obscurity to shape our missional callings?
I [Charlie] have always told people I believe the church exists for the good of the community in which it’s located. The reputation of the church should be positive when people speak of it. There will inevitably be opposition to the gospel and the renewal it initiates, but the general good done by a church should be indisputable.
We are seeking where God is calling us to be on mission in service to our community in Fairfield County. There are great organizations doing all sorts of good work on the local and global levels. There are a variety of marginalized people groups benefiting from services and numerous ways systemic injustices are being reformed. We are eager to contribute to the common good of Fairfield County and beyond.
There’s a small part of Paul’s missional biography that’s often overlooked. In his letter to the Galatians, Paul mentioned a trip to Arabia after his Damascus road experience. Thanks to a biography of Paul written by N.T. Wright, I’ve spent some time reflecting on Paul’s detour into Arabia.
Both Moses and Elijah had formative experiences in Arabia. Both received elements of their prophetic ministries in the region. Paul’s pilgrimage into Arabia connects him with the great prophetic narratives of Israel’s history.
On his way to Damascus, Paul received a direct revelation of Jesus and a missional call to the Gentiles that completely contradicted his prior trajectory. The persecutor of Christ-followers became the preacher and pastor to the nations.
Paul’s trip to Arabia reminded him of the dramatic revelations both Moses and Elijah experienced – a burning bush and a still, small voice. It also reminded him of how trials come both from within God’s people as well as from beyond his own brethren.
Our first few months in Fairfield County have felt a bit like Arabia when it comes to our mission. We know we’ve been called to start a church, and we know a variety of trials are ahead of us. But these few months have been a time to reconnect with the great stories of our faith – stories like Moses, Elijah and Paul. These stories remind us that the time we spend in Arabia is never wasted. Paul didn’t tell the Galatian churches exactly what he experienced on that pilgrimage, but maybe these footnote seasons are the most formative parts of our missional callings.