New Book Offers Hope for the Church
It is easy to feel depressed after reading news or statistics about the church and Christianity in our world today. But Joining Jesus: Ordinary People at the Edges of the Church, a new book from Moses Chung and Christopher Meehan, turns that experience on its head. This book explores stories of ordinary people doing extraordinary things in their communities, sparking imagination and hope for the church in North America.
Chung is the mission innovation director for Resonate Global Mission. Meehan is a commissioned pastor who spent many years as a writer with CRC Communications – and before that with the Grand Rapids Press and the Kalamazoo Gazette news services in West Michigan. Together, Chung and Meehan spent several years interviewing church leaders and community members across the continent to learn about mission and how it was having an impact.
In Joining Jesus, the authors share a collection of the stories they heard.
“This book tells the stories of Luke 10 people,” said Chung, referring to Jesus’ sending of 72 people out in pairs to prepare the way for his gospel message. “These congregations express the imagination, values, practices, and convictions necessary for the church to hold its own and even thrive in a secular, late-modern world confused and slammed off its axis by the pandemic.”
The outreach of Word of Truth International Ministries in Tukwila, Wash., is a great example. Tukwila borders Seattle and is known for being a high crime area. Members of the church come from the neighborhood. They are taught how to grow in Christ and to use whatever talents they have to help others and further God’s kingdom. Along the way, that has included a Bible study in a nursing home, discipling the employees of church-member businesses, and even starting a community football league.
Another great story is from Toronto, Ont., where a campus ministry at the University of Toronto offers “wine before breakfast” – a weekly, ecumenical, 7:22 a.m. communion service that began after the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001. The service provides older graduate students, whose faith has started to mature, with a place to worship and question the behavior and beliefs of the wider culture.
Other stories feature congregations’ opening a youth space in an abandoned storefront, becoming hospitable places for people with disabilities, serving among the Navajo community in New Mexico, and much more.
“As the world emerges from the COVID-19 pandemic, this Luke 10 perspective will be key to how the church can move forward,” Chung said.
In response to the pandemic, many organizations and institutions, including churches, are undergoing a transformation in how they operate. By collecting stories of congregations across North America who are tuned into the local needs around them, Meehan and Chung say they are hoping to point a way forward for churches.
“We hope readers can see how church communities have found, grasped, and used the keys to the kingdom to let God do the work so necessary to sustain the new world that is taking shape from the many effects of the pandemic,” said Meehan.
To learn more and to download a free discussion guide, visit joiningjesusbook.com.