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“Say God”: Moving Beyond Knowing the Right Answer

Jordan Stoltzfus, CMC Outreach Mobilizer, with his wife Megan and son (newborn daughter not pictured).
Part 1 by Joe,* RMM President

In 2016, CMC hired sociologist Conrad Kanagy to conduct a survey to help reveal and clarify the identity and vision of CMC. After surveying over 1,200 CMC respondents and conducting listening sessions with almost 200 individuals, Kanagy and his son Jacob report a variety of interesting data. In response to the question, “Can you name one thing that God may be calling CMC to embrace in order to become more faithful in fulfilling its mission?” the researchers note a key theme of “Emphasizing more local outreach and mission.”

Following are two survey comments representative of this larger theme:

“I know that CMC is very focused on the 10/40 window. However I think CMC should consider equipping missionaries to tell people about Jesus in America. CMC could provide resources for local congregations to minister to the lost in the local community. I know in Sarasota there are many who are lost without Christ.”

“We’ve always had a strong overseas mission emphasis, but have not done well at advancing the Gospel and planting churches at home.”

The Kanagys make a series of recommendations for CMC to consider. One is to “Enlarge the Table” by developing “…a new initiative in church planting and local community engagement among CMC congregations. There are relatively few ‘new believers’ among CMC congregations—expanding community engagement will also enlarge the table.”

“Can RMM reposition itself to resource local congregations in reaching their communities for Christ?” they ask. RMM exists to serve the mission of the local congregations of CMC, so we are responding to these calls for deeper engagement here on the home front. A team is working with Church Planting Catalyst Larry Kaufman to mobilize CMC to plant multiplying churches. In addition, we want to listen well in the months ahead to discover how we can best resource our churches in reaching their communities for Jesus.

RMM recently appointed Jordan Stoltzfus on a part-time basis to discover how we can best help churches. Jordan brings experience from RMM’s REACH program as well as years of living and ministering in a needy urban community. He is passionate about us as followers of Jesus taking the risk to engage in our communities. In Part 2 Jordan takes the time to introduce you to himself and to that passion.

Part 2 by Jordan Stoltzfus

Two young brothers stand side-by-side in the living room. The eight-year-old fidgets wildly from right foot to left foot, excited to get on with the conversation and get to wrestling with our neighbor – who’s just come home. Our neighbor is amused and continues to prod the five-year-old, asking him if he remembers what he learned yesterday at Bible study. Finally, the fidgeting eight-year-old, exasperated with his younger brother’s seeming amnesia, loudly whispers “Say GOD!” God, at least in his mind, is almost always the right answer.

Imitating Jesus is hard – harder than just knowing the right answer. Being in contact with the “least of these” doesn’t often come naturally to me (never mind the further step of compassion). After my wife and I were married, we found that no matter how many good intentions we had, our priorities had a way of getting mixed up. We needed to organize our lives in such a way that we no longer had a choice whether we followed Jesus’ Great Commission or not. For us, this meant moving into a house owned by a ministry that reaches out to inner-city children and youth. Every week our home is invaded by beautiful, annoying, excessively loud children. No matter that most of the time we have precious little inner warmth or motivation to propel us. They’re coming, and hopefully, God cares more about obedience than desire.

“…are we truly dedicated to living out the radical, costly, and inconvenient work of bringing God’s kingdom to earth?”It’s too easy to be content with just knowing the right answers. It’s possible to look good in far more polished ways than the young boy. But are we truly dedicated to living out the radical, costly, and inconvenient work of bringing God’s kingdom to earth?

I’m intrigued by the findings of the 2016 Kanagy survey of CMC constituents. While 85.8 percent believed their congregation actively shares Christ in the local community, only 43.5 percent talk about their faith at least monthly with someone who is not a church attender. While 76.1 percent believe their congregation meets the physical and social needs of their community, less than 25 percent of respondents acknowledge participating in such activities at least monthly.

Why is there this disconnect between what people feel about their congregation and the actual actions of the congregation? Can we really believe our congregations are doing so well if we as individuals are not? What could happen if even half of the people in our churches began to meet the physical and social needs of their community instead of only a quarter of us? What if all of us talked about our faith with unchurched people? We all know that we should “say God,” but what if we actually all started to live God? The work that Jesus did could accurately be described as “meeting the physical and spiritual needs of his community.”

Let’s all do our part to enlarge the table. Let’s become deeply discontent with the status quo; become discontent with not knowing the names of the least of these in your community; become discontent with not seeing Jesus work through you to impact the lives around you; and become discontent with simply knowing when to “say God.”

RMM wants to work with your church to help you expand the ways you connect with your home communities. We want to connect you with resources that would train and enable you to reach anyone and everyone, including the least of these. We want to help you recruit others in your congregation to join you. We’d love to see every church in CMC fully engaged in being Jesus and meeting the physical and spiritual needs of their community.

I want to hear from you. Tell me what you’re passionate about and what RMM can do to help. Let’s make CMC a conference that is known as a group of churches who seek justice, who love mercy, and who show our faith through our love. Let’s make CMC a network that is full of people who regularly share their faith with others in effective ways. I look forward to working with you.

Jordan and his wife Megan live in Columbus, Ohio, with their two children. Along with serving his community through youth ministry, Jordan has filled the role of property manager for the Rosedale International Center for the past three years. Jordan spends his free time riding bike and woodworking. He also enjoys playing with playdough, tractors, and running around the house yelling with his two-year-old son.
If you are interested in joining the conversation about how your local church can get involved in your community, join the Facebook group CMC Community Outreach. You can also contact Jordan at jordan@rmmoffice.org.

*Name omitted for security