Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Henri Nouwen and the Mission of Oak Mountain

I posted a link of an article by Henri Nouwen the other day entitled “Moving from Solitude to Community to Ministry.” It is a fantastic article…but it was also very encouraging to me with regard to the ministry of our church.

Read the article by clicking here.

Our Mission Statement reads as follows: “To glorify Jesus Christ by equipping every member to:
Seek Grace from God
Share Grace in Community
Show Grace to All.

What excited me is that our Mission Statement and Nouwen’s article fit “hand-in-glove!” Seeking Grace from God involves us seeking transforming grace from God through public and private worship…and parallels Nouwen’s emphasis on hearing the Father’s rejoicing over us (Zeph 3:17) through Solitude. Before we will move out in strength and love toward others, we need to be confident that we are loved and cared for—that we are NOT orphans! Apart from this element of “Seeking Grace from God” we will be trying to prove ourselves worthy or giving in to the lies of the world, the flesh and the devil that we don’t have what it takes to move out in strength and love toward others.

Sharing Grace in Community is parallel to Nouwen’s emphasis on Community where we experience “forgiveness and celebration.” Community is the place where the truth of God’s love for us and the hope of His transforming grace in us is spoken to us with strength. The Christian life involves solitude and Seeking Grace from God, but the Christian life, contrary to much popular opinion is NOT primarily about “privatized spirituality!” In the context of community we are affirmed as children of God, created by Him and re-created in Christ to represent and reflect God to others. The Community of the Church is where we experience the tangible expressions of the Father’s love…we are healed and restored to wholeness in the context of community.

Finally, as we experience the Father’s love through Solitude and Seeking Grace from God in public and private worship; and as we experience restoration through Community (and also contribute to other peoples’ restoration), it leads us outside ourselves in ever greater measure and we are propelled into ministry. In order for us to engage in ministry, we are called to exercise a radical trust in God, that He will, by the Holy Spirit, powerfully minister to others through our feeble attempts at service. We are to “weep with those who weep, and rejoice with those who rejoice.” We are not to give in to the lies that we don’t have what it takes to bring restoration and wholeness to others…rather we are to believe that God can use “cracked pots” (or “crackpots”…whichever you prefer), to transform lives.

I’m so thankful that God has affirmed our Mission Statement through such a fantastic article. Let’s trust God for the grace to go from theory to implementation!

2 comments:

David MacGregor said...

Bob, I found your book really interesting. But I also questioned the need to include so many references to your faith.

I have no doubt about the importance of your beliefs to you and respect your devotion to them. But I don't share them and find the clear thinking of your central premise is fuzzed by articles like this…which make me less inclined to refer my friends and colleagues to your work.

Just a thought…

Homogenising a message renders it generic, so I can also see the value of including this material is it expresses brand Bob Garfield.

amanda + daniel said...

Hi Bob,
I'm part of a new house church in Cambodia & we are reading this article together this week. I googled the title & came across your blog. Thanks for sharing your thoughts - its so encouraging to hear how God is speaking to His church all around the world!