We are inviting the whole congregation of Faith Community Church to share the commitments to missional prayer, mercy, and mentoring.
Read the pastoral letter regarding Refocus 2020:
Dear Brothers and Sisters of Faith Community Church,
At our last Congregational Meeting (August 19, 2018), we (Pastor Nick and Pastor Rhett) took the opportunity to share how God has been guiding the session (elders) in recent months. After our transition into the Presbyterian Church in America in April, church leadership entered a season of discernment, asking God to impart a renewed vision of what he was calling the church to do and be. During this process we undertook a thorough analysis of our church’s strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats. We recognized that West Chicago has experienced dramatic transformation, not least in terms of population growth and shifting social norms, as well as a large influx of diverse ethnicities and cultures. Cognizant of these changes and prayerfully dependent on the Spirit’s leading, we sought to identify God’s strategic priorities for Faith Community Church for the next two years. Finally, we settled on three points, which we have grouped together in an initiative we call Refocus 2020. The purpose of these strategic priorities – the purpose of the Refocus 2020 initiative – is to provide guiding goals and principles for our ministries. They are as follows:
1) Missional: We are committing to missional prayer.
As we meet together in our Bible studies, on Sunday morning, and in each of our respective ministries throughout the week, we are asking church members to pray with specific missional purpose. This means that our prayers will have not just an inward focus (for those who are attached to the church family) but also an outward focus (for those who are not yet part of our church family). We want to be obedient to Jesus when he recognizes the crowds, has compassion on them, and tells us, “Pray earnestly to the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into the harvest” (Matt 9:38). We have been convicted of the need to turn our eyes of faith to those outside our church walls, asking God to shape our hearts and our church that we may be better equipped to labor into the growing harvest of West Chicago.
2) Mercy: We are committing to showing mercy to the “strangers and aliens” in our community.
Connected to our missional prayer focus is a sharper focus on God’s call to show mercy. We understand that there are already some within the church who are specifically concerned with demonstrating mercy, namely, the deacons. However, we also believe that the diaconal call to mercy extends beyond the office of deacons to the entire congregation. Jesus emphasizes this principle when he says, “Go and learn what this means: ‘I desire mercy, and not sacrifice’” (Matt 9:13). In this way, we are asking the deacons to help lead us.
After consultation with the locally-based organization World Relief, we sensed a call to focus on mercy towards the “strangers and aliens” in our midst, especially refugees. Illinois is one of the top ten states in the US for refugee resettlement. As many refugees are being resettled in our area, there is a particularly growing population of refugees in West Chicago. Our consultant at World Relief put it this way, “Faith Community Church is in the right place at the right time.” We have an excellent opportunity to show hospitality to these vulnerable populations, some of whom are literally just across the street.
3) Mentoring: We are committing to mentor the next generation.
Finally, we want to become more intentional about developing new leaders, especially through mentoring. Mentoring does not have to be a formal arrangement, but can simply be an organic process of mutual, one-on-one encouragement. Mentoring is simply a kind of discipleship. Ultimately, mentoring is part of what Jesus is getting at when he says, “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations” (Matt 28:19).
As our church prepares for the future, we also want to emphasize growing young by mentoring those who are not as far along on the journey. In this emphasis, we are also asking each of our ministry areas to look to the future through caring for the needs of younger populations in our own congregation and in our community. We do not aim to be trendy, but to catalyze the gifts of our seniors to ensure that our covenant commitments reach to the next generation: “One generation shall commend your works to another” (Psalm 145:4).
How Will We Accomplish the Strategic Priorities?
Our ministry teams will be our primary tool for putting these strategic priorities into action. As our women’s ministry, men’s ministry, connection team, children’s ministries, diaconal ministries, and other ministries set goals for the next two years, we are asking the team leaders to allow Refocus 2020 to be shaping force. At the same time, we are inviting the whole congregation of Faith Community Church to share the commitments to missional prayer, mercy, and mentoring. As we embrace these aims, we believe that our God-given calling will be realized. We love you and celebrate your love for one another. We are excited to see that same affection spill out into the streets of West Chicago, as we prepare to reap the harvest of faith.