How do we advance God's kingdom in the "valley"? What is the "valley"? This is the topic that Pastor Efram Smith spoke about during the afternoon session at the NPC. He said, "In the midst of crisis we can not paint the valley as the enemy. What does he mean by that? Even though we may be in the valley (recession, foreclosures, addictions, problems, etc.) we must proclaim the power of God. Do not forget His hand is upon you!
How does this relate to the church? What are we doing to help lead people through the valley? He wants to lead us, the church, but he also has a mandate/mission for us. Say YES to the mission.
What is the mission? Is the church really going to be the church? We need transformation. This is what the church must preach. There is a need for the breath of God. The is the need for new life. There is the need for heart change. Do we really believe in new life? JESUS IS ALIVE!!!
As the church we must be ready for shift. We must be ready for change. We must have no walls. No barriers. We must become one church.
Do people know Christ? Are we healthy? Are we missional?
Ask yourself these questions.
Are we focusing on Christ, covenant, and community?
If the church is healthy we will hear stories of transformed lives. If the church is missional we will publicly pursue God's kingdom and tell the good news. There must be an intersection of salvation and social justice.
We have to believe and pray that others can believe that there can be life in the valley. JESUS IS ALIVE!!!
Pastor Efram Smith challenged us to go deeper. He challenged us to reflect deeply about our intimacy and identity in Christ. Ask yourself this, is all of what God has placed in me being utilized? I think not!
He told a story about the African Impala. African Impalas have the ability to jump 13 feet high and 30 feet out. While visiting the zoo, however, the Impala was contained by a 3 foot fence. How can an animal that can jump up 13 feet and out 30 feet be contained by a 3 foot fence. When the Impala was a baby the trained it that it could not jump out. Now it is an adult impala and it doesn't know that it can jump out. If it only knew that it could jump out.
If we only knew what we could do. What is in us naturally that God has placed in us that we don't even know we can do? What is our 3 foot wall? Are we afraid to jump?
I dare you to jump. Take a risk and jump.
In order to live through the valley, proclaim God to those in the valley, transform lives, be ready for change, and be ready to say yes to the mandate we must not be afraid to jump. If we don't know we can jump we need to reflect deeply on our intimacy and identity in and with Christ!