On Saturday Oct 29, children, youth, young adults, and parents gathered in North Charleston for our first church-wide paintball and picnic! Men, women, young and the young-at-heart all gathered at 9:30am for a day of fun and fellowship! It was certainly a colorful day, due to both the effect of well-aimed paintballs and the weather. 65 degrees with not a single cloud provided for just the right amount of clothes to ease the sting of that first paintball and to also keep you warm in the chill of the morning. Absolute perfect paintball conditions!
My favorite thing wasn’t the mess of paint on me (I was hit a lot… sometimes even by my own team!), or my peanut butter and banana sandwich, or the gorgeous weather, or even winning a couple games, but my absolute favorite part was seeing so many different folks come together and enjoy a common desire. It was an awesome way for new folks to build relationships and get involved with the life of the church. It was also a huge blessing for many to see familiar faces in a new context!
To me, it was a picture of exactly what the church is to be – a diverse group of people loving and coming together around a common desire, hope, and treasure, namely Jesus Christ. In many ways, this fun, relaxed event was far more intentional than what it appeared and carried far deeper implications along with it. Truth be told, it was, as in all our relational opportunities, an evangelistic mission – to meet new people and make new, or deeper, connections.
But here’s the kicker – those connections are not the end, but a natural means! If relationships are the means, then the end is the praise of Jesus by all people in true community, which can exist only through the preaching and enjoyment of the gospel. This mission of relational ministry is to impart upon our beloved friends, both new and old, something of the utmost value, importance, and pleasure. Something that has an even greater unifying power than the joyous shouts and the camaraderie of paintball – the hope of the gospel of Jesus!
This all-consuming passion of the gospel has been moving people beyond themselves for centuries. It has caused people of all different ages, generations, genders, ethnicities, cultures, social and economic statuses, backgrounds, and nations to shed their own prejudices and preferences. And interestingly enough the gospel has not diminished their differences, but enhanced and utilized these differences. These differences in members are now indispensable, redeemed gifts to be used in the harmonies of our unified praise to Jesus.
We, like in all things we do at St. Michael’s, value opportunities like these to be missional by investing in others who are different than we are. And even through something as seemingly trivial as a group of people gathering for a picnic and paintball, there is the glorious truth of a God who graciously reached down to us when we were ill-deserving beckoning us to reach out to others, even those who are different from us, in the hopes that St. Michaels would be an agent of the renewal of this world and would advance the Kingdom of God in all things and at all times.
From our current series in Ephesians, chapter 4:4-6 “There is one body and one Spirit – just as you were called to one hope that belongs to your call – one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of us all, who is over all and through all and in all.”