We all want to feel that we’re doing the best we can in our faith, but what should we be doing in our faith walk with Jesus?
Thankfully, the path is much clearer now that Dr. Scott Dudley has unveiled the BelPres vision of “Revival for the Eastside” for the coming years.
For more than a year, our BelPres elders and ministers have asked the hard questions and prayed for God’s answers to reveal, “what’s next?” for BelPres.
This condensed version of Dr. Dudley’s powerful January 7 sermon explains the importance and magnitude of the challenges and opportunities to come.
You can watch (or listen) to his entire January 7 sermon, “Where Are We Going?” on the BelPres website at: https://belpres.sermon.net/sermon_video/sermonvideo/21083128
– Cliff Sevakis
For more than a year, our BelPres elders and pastors have discerned that God is calling us is to partner with Jesus to seek the spiritual, relational, and economic flourishing of the cities to which God has called us and beyond. The old-fashioned word for that is “revival.”
“Seek the peace and prosperity of the city to which I have carried you,” Jeremiah 29:7. That verse is addressed to Jewish exiles in Babylon, and the word there for “peace and prosperity” in Hebrew is “shalom.”
We don’t have an English equivalent for “shalom.” It means so much more than “peace” or “prosperity.” It means the complete, total healing of all things. It means the complete, total, relational, emotional, spiritual, social flourishing of those around us.
That’s what shalom means. That’s what God was calling the Jews to bring to the city where they were exiled. We feel called from that verse to bring God’s shalom.
The old-fashioned word is “revival,” but revival broadly defined. The revival of marriages that are in trouble; revival of hope in families that are fractured, and putting those families back together again; revival of people coming out of poverty; and revival of people and racism, being healed.
Revival of people coming to know Jesus, because Jesus helps us know that there is a God who loves us so much that he would rather die than lose us. And when you know that you are loved, everything changes. Jesus helps us know that we are loved. Jesus, who cancels our debt of sin.
We want folks to know Jesus, but beyond that, the fullness of revival. That’s where we feel God calling this church to partner with him to bring Shalom to the Eastside and beyond. And it’s happening.
It’s happened before in history, where cultures have been transformed. It’s happening now in Africa and Asia and Latin America; which is one of the reasons that we need to stay connected globally, because they can teach us how to do revival.
How are we going to do that? By bringing Jesus’ healing wherever we live, work, play, or learn. We’ve been doing this corporately as a church for a long time through Jubilee Reach, the Service Day and Eastside Academy, but what if each one of us did this in our regular lives?
As you’re going to work, as you’re going to school. As you’re about your business, look for ways to partner with Jesus to bring his healing. That’s where we feel God calling us to go. We’re going to individually and corporately bring his healing wherever we are.
So, what if we weren’t the only church that had this as our vision? We’ve discovered that, independent of each other, there are a couple of churches in King County, where this is their vision, too. We didn’t talk to each other about this. We just arrived at this same vision, and now we’re finding each other. It’s as if God has been inspiring a movement here in King County.
First, we need to belong to a warm, multi-ethnic, all-generations community that supports us, gets beyond the usual news, weather, and sports, and serves together.
Why multi-ethnic and all generational? Because we want to represent the entire family of God and reflect the Eastside that we’re a part of. But we’re not all here yet.
More than that, we want to be part of a community that supports us when something goes wrong, when we lose our job, when our marriage is in trouble. We need a support group when we try to bring Jesus’ healing.
We all need support and to be healed ourselves in order to do that. If we’re going to partner with Jesus to bring relational, economic, spiritual flourishing, then we need to experience and be healed here first.
The second thing we need is to become like Jesus – willing to sacrifice our time and comfort and reputation to see his healing flourish in our lives and beyond. Do you know the Great Commission? “Go forth into all the world and make churchgoers of all nations.” Or was that “disciples?”
A disciple is different than a churchgoer. A disciple is someone so transformed by the will of Jesus that they are willing to endure a little bit of sacrifice to see his flourishing come to themselves and others.
This church has to help us all be disciples and not just consumer Christians. We’ve got to become disciples, not just churchgoers and we need that community to help bring Jesus’ healing that leads to flourishing.
We need to build toward a third way to create racial justice and healing in pursuit of God’s heart. Why racial justice and healing? Some may think that this is the church getting political. Not if we do it right.
If we do this right, it will look like neither Democrats nor Republicans, liberal nor conservative. It will just look like Jesus. If we’re talking about bringing healing, and the complete flourishing of the culture around us on the Eastside, one of the biggest areas where our culture is hurting and needs healing is in racial relations, as it has been for the last 400 years.
Jesus’ people are called to do something about this. It’s everywhere in the Bible. It’s all over the Old Testament. Almost every book of the New Testament, with one or two possible exceptions, features racial healing as a theme.
The church didn’t start the day Jesus rose from the dead. It started 50 days later on what was known as the Feast of Pentecost, a Jewish holiday. Why? Because it was during that holiday that Jews from Africa (black people); Middle-Easterners (brown people); Europeans (white people) – were all assembled when the Holy Spirit came and they all began to understand each other’s languages.
If racial healing is so important to God that he delayed the start of his church 50 days so that the first church could be multi-ethnic, what does that say about the heart of our God?
This is powerfully biblical, and something Christians historically have always taken the lead on. For 2,000 years we opposed slavery. Every Pope opposed slavery. Abolition: that was Christians. Civil rights: it was Christians that got the ball rolling.
This is an area where we have historically been strong. It’s everywhere in Scripture and our country desperately needs it. What if people who don’t know Jesus can look at us and say, “You Christians, you’re figuring it out and it transcends politics. It just looks different, so why is that?” And we can say, “It’s Jesus.” And then Jesus gets a hearing in the marketplace of ideas.
Lastly, we need to be a community that equips and empowers and releases all of us to do this. So we’ve got to figure out how we equip and empower each of us to do this, with an emphasis on youth and young adults.
Why young people? Let me tell you what that does not mean. It does not mean that if you’re over 35, we don’t care about you. But there a couple of reasons to focus on youth and young adults. If you look at the numbers, the greatest percentage of people with no relationship with Jesus are 35 and under.
In fact, virtually nobody 35 and under knows Jesus. So if we’re talking revival, in mission terms that’s called an “unreached group,” and we want them to know Jesus – because Jesus makes life better.
The other reason is, young people want you. If you are an older person, say 40 and older, they want to know you. They want to be with you. They’re different from my generation, the baby boomers.
We said, “Oh, I’ll never trust anyone over 30,” and we thought that was really awesome, until we turned 29, and then realized just how trustworthy we were.
But these days, the number one request I get from young people in this church is, “Please connect me with someone older. I don’t know how to find someone to marry. I’m starting my career and I don’t know how to do that. We just had our first kid and I don’t know how to handle that.
The great thing is, this church is to older people what Saudi Arabia is to oil. We have tons of them. So we should absolutely be the church of destination for young people.
You’ve got a wealth of experience to share. You’ve had a wealth of successes, and they can learn from them. You’ve experienced failure, and they need to hear that too, because they’re going to fail and they need to know how Jesus works in that.
Why do we do this? We act because we believe that Jesus is Lord, because we believe that Jesus has conquered death, and that means he can conquer anything.
We act because we believe Jesus can heal marriages, families, people in poverty, because we believe Jesus makes all things new. And we love because we’ve experienced God’s love. This is the foundation for it all, because without this, all we are doing is a bunch of good deeds, and that will wear out.
But that foundation means we’ve got to experience God’s love as our first order of businesses. Because when you know you’re loved, everything changes. So this church has to help us experience God’s love, and then out of that overflow, we begin to give that love away.
That’s where we’re going, the complete flourishing, economic, spiritual, relational revival, broadly defined. This is what we do to bring Jesus’ healing wherever we are. And the community, discipleship and racial healing, those are the pillars.
Now there are some things we’ll need to do to accomplish those pillars, and we’re calling them experiments. We expect, in fact we intend to fail at some of these experiments and if we don’t fail, it’s because we played it too safe. For instance, the “Brunch and Burgers” thing we do once a month after church to help us build community.
Maybe we launch six-to-eight week groups that really focus on helping us become disciples. For racial healing, there’s the Frames and Filters Workshop we’ve been doing. Those are some things that will support the roof and help us get to the big vision.
And then there’s a floor. We all need to be equipped. That’s what we’re going to stand on – with an emphasis on youth and young adults. And the foundation for it all is that we’ve got to experience God’s love. That’s where we are headed as a church.
In summary, our BelPres vision is: the spiritual, economic and relational flourishing of the cities we’re called to, and beyond. Remember these B-words. We’re going to:
- Bring Jesus’ healing
- Belong to a community
- Become like Jesus
- Build toward racial healing
- Be an equipped community
This new vision embraces a bunch of areas that all work together, and we’ve prayed over this a long time. I thoroughly believe this is where God is calling us to go as a church, and I believe it is possible. Christians have changed the culture before and we can do it again.
Over the course of the next several years, we’ll invite you in to various parts of this vision, and encourage you to listen prayerfully for God’s nudge toward where he might want you to step in and get involved.
There are only two places in the United States that have never experienced revival: the Bay Area and the Seattle area. This church aims to remove the Seattle area from the list. I believe it can happen. This isn’t just pastor talk. What else are we here for if not this?
You are part of a church that’s going to want a piece of this action. Why can’t we be one of the churches that starts this movement? As house-by-house, school-by-school, office-by-office, God’s will gets done, his kingdom comes, here on the Eastside as it is in heaven.
Jesus meant that literally. Until that day, when the kingdom of this world becomes the kingdom of our God and of our Christ, and the earth is filled with the knowledge of God as the waters cover the sea.