Equipping Leaders

Equip Fall 2014

Equip Fall 2014 blog:

Greetings Imago Dei Church! We’re excited to announce that we are about to begin our third year of our Equip training program. Equip is a discipleship training time that allows the Elders to get to know and begin equipping future leaders for roles that will take the gospel all over the world, and also to identify future Aspire interns. We will be developing a two-year curriculum with content including The Gospel, The Church, Missions, and Ethics—hitting on all of them each semester.

Equip typically meets four times over the course of a semester on Saturday mornings at a new time, from 8:15am-9:45am. Through this program, the church seeks to equip and train any aspiring church planters, pastors, missionaries (anyone involved in Going), growth group leaders, church planting teams, or anyone wanting futher equipping.

This fall, Equip will hold its first meeting on September 13th at the new 8:15-9:45 time slot at the IDC Building. Typically, we watch/listen to a sermon, or read an article, and interact with Scripture on our own time and then having come prepared, discuss the content with teaching and/or small groups.

For our September 13th meeting we will discuss:

The Gospel – Gospel Appropriation
Tim Keller, audio sermon: “Preaching the Gospel” (40 min.) http://theresurgence.com/2006/07/11/preaching-the-gospel
John Piper, audio clip: “The Morning I Heard the Voice of God” (11 min.)
Scripture: Galatians 2:11-14; 3:13

Here a few questions that will help you add to any discussion or your own growth:

• Give a brief summary of the content.
• Agreements? Disagreements?
• Why would IDC leadership want us to learn this?
• What are some implications for your future ministry (whatever context God has you in)?
• What will this look like in the life of the church (particularly IDC)?

Here are the tentative dates for this fall’s Equip meetings

• September 13th
• October 18th
• November 8th
• November 22nd

Covenant members and prospective members—be on the lookout for the content of each meeting. We will likely make it available through multiple channels, including a link on the website. If you are unsure about it, email equip@idcraleigh.com with any questions you may have. Also, childcare will be provided upon request (at least a week in advance by emailing jillian@idcraleigh.com) for children under age10. We look forward to growing alongside you. Grace and peace.

Parenting Questions

Dialogue Questions:

  • How are your devotions?
  • What’s been the most impactful thing in our current sermon series?
  • In your own words, what is the gospel?
  • Is there a specific sin that you need my help defeating?

Personal Questions:

  • Are you more aware of my encouragement or my criticism?
  • What is Daddy (Mommy) most passionate about?
  • Do I act the same at worship on Sunday as I do at home all week long?
  • Are you aware of my love for you?
  • Is there a way I’ve sinned against you that I have not repented of?
  • How am I doing as a dad (mom)?
  • Does my relationship with Mom (Dad) make you excited about being married?
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How Do I Respond to Correction: Some Diagnostic Questions

Whoever corrects a scoffer gets himself abuse,
and he who reproves a wicked man incurs injury.
Do not reprove a scoffer, or he will hate you;
reprove a wise man, and he will love you.
Give instruction to a wise man, and he will be still wiser;
teach a righteous man, and he will increase in learning.
The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom,
and the knowledge of the Holy One is insight.
For by me your days will be multiplied,
and years will be added to your life.
If you are wise, you are wise for yourself;
if you scoff, you alone will bear it.

Proverbs 9:7-12

In light of Proverbs 9:7-12, here are some helpful diagnostic questions for assessing if we are on the path of wisdom when responding to correction:

• Which most accurately describes you, love for the rebuke or hatred?
• How do you respond to correction/confrontation? Love or Anger? Is he a friend or an enemy to you?
• Do you listen to it and seek truth in it or get defensive and immediately have a comeback (5 things wrong in the other person)?
• When are corrected do you put out hints that this won’t happen again?
• Do you seem receptive on the outside, but on the inside you are murdering that person?
• Do you automatically think when someone corrects you they are judgmental?
• Do you immediately justify behavior or thoughts when corrected?
• Is there anything in your life that is off limits for people to touch when it comes to correction? (How would you feel if a GG leader or pastor reproving parts of your parenting? Spending? Laziness? Dress? Etc)
• Do you have relationship with anyone that has the freedom to say tough things to you?
• Does anyone in your life have permission to rebuke you?
• Do you love doing the rebuking but hate being rebuked?
• Does this keep you from being in a Growth Group?
• Do you have a false community around you? (Do you surround yourself with people who will never disagree with you? Do you only seek counsel from people who will never disagree with you?)
• Who in this church will you ask to be honest with you and correct you when needed?
• When asked by someone to correct them, will you have the courage to do so or will you let this text further make you a coward?

Resource: As we seek to let the gospel form us into wise people who can receive correction – here is an extremely helpful article on the gospel and correction by Alfred Poirer, “The Cross and Criticism.”

Harvest Church, Part I: God Prepares the Field

Harvest Church logo
Written by Matthew Poole
One of the most beautiful words ever uttered is the Greek word tetelestai (three words if you’re translating into English). It means this, “It is finished.” These are the words our King Jesus said while He hung on that blessed tree in our place, bearing the full weight of our condemnation. In those words He affirms the reason for which He came—to die . . . to ransom a people for His own possession, to purify a people who would be zealous for good works.

The mission of God cannot fail . . . because Christ has accomplished the mission.

And we know that’s not the end of the story for Jesus. God raised Him from the dead, vindicated Him, and exalted Him above every name that can be named. And then, as Ephesians 1:22 says, “[God] put all things under His feet [under Jesus’ feet] and gave Him as head over all things to the church, which is his body, the fullness of Him who fills all in all.”

The mission of God cannot fail . . . because Christ is the sovereign ruler over all.

And listen to what Paul says in the very next chapter, “For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them”(Ephesians 2:10).

The mission of God cannot fail . . . because God has ordained good works for us to walk in.

That’s a pretty good combination of truths. Christ has accomplished the mission. Christ is sovereign over the mission. Christ has prepared the mission for us.

If you have been around Imago Dei recently you have likely heard about their mission to plant Harvest Church in the Cary area. What may be unclear though is the story of how the Harvest Church plant became a reality. We want to take this moment to briefly share that story, highlighting God’s sovereign activity in “preparing this good work.” We hope this story updates you on Harvest Church and encourages you in faithful service to the King.

Back in March we had our church plant town hall meeting. At that time, Drew and I had just committed to planting together and although we had a general desire to be in Raleigh, we had no idea exactly where or what this might look like or who might be involved. Then, in the matter of literally just a couple weeks, all of this significantly took shape. God was preparing to flex his muscles and show off His sovereign skills.

We had located a region of interest just between Raleigh and Cary, and were beginning to really lift up our prayers in this matter. As it turns out, while Drew was praying over the spot on his computer map, in came a most providential email. This email, from a Southeastern contact, relayed that North Cary Baptist Church was a dying church looking for a new direction. When he looked up the church address . . . the location pin fell directly in the center of the region we had marked out.

Okay, God? I guess we’ll follow up on this one.

After some initial conversation with North Cary, things progressed rapidly. Drew and I met with the leaders of the church, making our vision clear that we were wanting to plant a new church in the area. We were not sure at all how this might go, but we were absolutely blown away with their response. Basically, they said they thought we were God’s answer to their prayer.

One of the highlights which we will never forget is when a few of their key leaders said, “We are tired of leading; it’s time for us to serve.”

But it wasn’t just a matter of their hearts being willing to serve under new leadership. We wanted to start a new church from scratch. That means we wanted to do all things new—new bylaws, new membership, new covenant agreement, new church structure, new everything. Again, we were unsure how this next step was going to go, but they were fully on board!! We have been amazed with their humility before God and their desire to sacrifice for the mission. Sure, let’s get rid of everything we have and turn it over to a couple young pastors who we just met a couple weeks ago. They also have over six acres of land, a wonderful sanctuary, a fellowship hall, and a classroom/kids/administrative building.

On May 4, less than 2 months after we first heard of this opportunity, North Cary Baptist Church voted unanimously to dissolve and become Harvest Church.

Drew and I have been filling the pulpit in North Cary the last few months. That is why you have not seen us around IDC much. We have been taking them through a sermon series on the nine marks of a healthy church. And although much of what we have covered is new to them (plurality of elders, church discipline, membership covenant), they are eager to learn and to put everything into practice. Even in restructuring the church away from a Sunday morning emphasis toward an emphasis on community and relationship (small groups), they have received it with great joy. In fact, they told us that this new church model is what they have been trying to get to for so long but have not known how to achieve it.

On the same night the vote took place we also had an informational meeting with people from Imago Dei who had expressed interest in the church plant. From this group, we now have 16 Imago Dei members who are committed to being a part of our core team in the plant. We could not be any more thrilled with this group of people that God has called out to help fulfill the mission in Cary. Over the last couple months we have had some team building get-togethers, and we are constantly learning about how awesome each of these members are (Imago Dei is really sending out some all-stars!). Just to give you an idea of how committed these folks are, half of them have already picked up and moved to Cary!

The only way to explain all these many factors involved in the merging of Imago Dei and North Cary is to attribute it to a sovereign God who orchestrates His people to fulfill His mission. Praise God!

That brings us to the present day. This coming weekend the Imago Dei elders will ordain Drew and I and then, the following day, during the worship service, our entire Harvest Church core team (those from Cary and those from IDC) will be commissioned.

I hope the story of Harvest Church (thus far) has encouraged you. By no means am I implying that God always prepares good works for us in this manner—surely not. Probably most good works in this life will feel more like a cross than a cruise. But the point to remember, though, is that the mission cannot fail. Christ has accomplished the mission for us and He now reigns on the throne enforcing the victory through His people.

If you would like to know more information about Harvest Church, please visit our in-construction website at http://harvestchurchcary.com/

Or feel free to contact one of us, Matthew (matthew.poole@harvestchurchcary.com) or Drew (drew.raynor@harvestchurchcary.com)

If you would like to support Harvest Church financially, you can give to Imago Dei by earmarking your designation, or you can give directly to Harvest Church by sending a check payable to:

Harvest Church
505 Reedy Creek Rd.
Cary, NC 27513

If you would like to support Harvest Church through prayer, please pray that we would be faithful to fulfill the great commission by making disciples of Christ locally and globally.

Thank you IDC family! We love you!

For the harvest,

Matthew and Drew (future elders of Harvest Church)

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Church Planting Networks

Next week Nate and I (Tony) will be attending the Acts 29 Lead Pastors Retreat in Miami. If the assessment process goes positively, Imago Dei Church will officially be part of the Acts 29 Network (http://www.acts29network.org/). Our good friend Steve Timmis is the Executive Director of A29, and the President is Matt Chandler. We hold both men in the highest regard. We love the new trajectory of A29, including their commitment to plant churches internationally, as well as domestically.

In addition to this network, the elders also agreed to be part of the Redeemer City to City Network for three years (http://www.redeemercitytocity.com/). We will receive training, and will also support at least one global church plant in one of sixty-five cities, led by a planter that has been through the City to City network. We will share more about the church that we will support later. Regarding the training piece, the staff elders will enjoy personalized instruction from Tim Keller regarding church planting and missiology over the next two years. We are excited about what we might learn, as we seek to mobilize the large number of missionaries/church planters that we have at IDC.

While IDC will continue to gladly be part of the North American Mission Board and the International Mission Board of the SBC, we are excited about working with these two conservative evangelical networks. We anticipate being part of A29 for the foreseeable future, while the City to City network is only a three year commitment initially.

Since A29 is the long-term commitment, then allow us to answer this question, “Why join A29?” Here are a few reasons. First, theologically, we treasure the gospel-centered focus in A29. Second, personally, we love the leaders and pastors in A29. When we started IDC, a handful of churches supported us, including A29 churches like Summit and Vintage (here in RDU). Some of the IDC elders have close relationships with many of the pastors in A29, and we feel that we identify with them, and want to be associated with them formally. Third, we love the evangelistic passion in A29 (which we hope rubs off on us). Fourth, we share their passion to see diversity in local churches. Fifth, the elders believe that “churches plant churches” not organizations, boards, or seminaries. The mission statement of A29 is “churches planting churches.” We embrace this ecclesiology. A29 exists in part to help churches like us, plant other churches by resourcing, equipping, supporting, etc.

Finally, we need another network practically. We have a ton of people being sent out of IDC and we want them to have some options for fulfilling their calling. While the majority of our folks will probably go through the SBC organizations, we know that some won’t. In fact, some continue to face challenges as they work through the process – both domestically and internationally. At times this has been very frustrating, especially when it comes from philosophical differences.

We appreciate your prayers as we enter this season as a church. Our church is like a military base. We are training and sending soldiers out all over the world. Pray that we will send them out as healthy and prepared soldiers, ready to faithfully advance the gospel, and plant churches all over the world for the glory of Christ.

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Church Planting

Recently, IDC held a Church Planting forum to highlight five church plants that will be sent out from our church and one church planting effort that involves seeking to plant churches among unreached people groups living in NC (http://vimeo.com/89198128).

Here is what we are asking of you and here is what our church plants need moving forward:

Prayer – Our church plants need much prayer as they handle the logistics of church planting but also much prayer that many in these cities would hear the gospel and be changed by it. Paul writes in Colossians 4:12-13 – “Epaphras, who is one of you, a servant of Christ Jesus, greets you, always struggling on your behalf in his prayers, that you may stand mature and fully assured in all the will of God. For I bear him witness that he has worked hard for you and for those in Laodicea and in Hierapolis.” Our church plants and planters need us to be Epaphras’ for them that we would work hard on their behalf in our prayers!

Financial Support – Our church plants need financial support as well as they move their lives and families to these cities. Our brother John writes this in 3 John 5-8 – “Beloved, it is a faithful thing you do in all your efforts for these brothers, strangers as they are, who testified to your love before the church. You will do well to send them on their journey in a manner worthy of God. For they have gone out for the sake of the name, accepting nothing from the Gentiles. Therefore we ought to support people like these, that we may be fellow workers for the truth.” It is our prayer that many will give sacrificially to help these planters as they go on “their journey” and that we should support people “like these” so that we can be “fellow workers for the truth.” (If you would like to give financially directly to our planting efforts you can do so by designating to the “Missions/Church Planting Fund” on an offering envelope or online donation here for members and here for other guest contributions)

Goers – In addition, our church plants need “goers” who will go with them who are zealous to make disciples and see a church planted in these cities. Paul writes in Philippians 1:3-5, a church that he helped plant, “I thank my God in all my remembrance of you, always in every prayer of mine for you all making my prayer with joy, because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now.” It is the hope of the elders that you will seriously consider going with one of these plants. We pray that many will consider taking a risk for the gospel and go with these plants either here locally or nationally. In particular, we hope our men who are considering going into vocational gospel ministry would give serious consideration to going with one of these plants to help plant the gospel in major cities in our country.

*So please pray through how you can be a partner in the gospel with these plants and planters. Below we provide their information so you can reach out to them to hear more specifically about their needs and plans.

Church Plants:

– Philadelphia, PA (Brian Davis – Brian.s.dav@gmail.com)
– Boston, MA (Aaron Lumpkin – aaronlumpkin@gmail.com)
– Buffalo, NY (Ben Palka – benny2221@gmail.com)
– Raleigh, NC (Matthew Poole and Drew Raynor – matthewpoole1@gmail.com and draynor86@gmail.com)
– Los Angles, CA (Jason Wright – jason@revjtw.com)

International Church Planting here at home – if you are interested in helping with church planting among unreached people groups in the Triangle, Triad, and Charlotte you can contact Zac Lyons (lyons.zac@gmail.com) or Keelan Cook (keelancook@gmail.com)

IDC Member & Musician Frank Hurd Departs for Freedom Church

For those of you who don’t know me, my name’s Frank Hurd. I’m a musician (songwriter, recording artist) by profession – in addition to the occasional odd job! I’m originally from Rhode Island, and have been attending Imago Dei since I moved to Raleigh about a year ago. This week I’ll be departing IDC to go serve and lead worship at Freedom Church (http://freedomchurchnc.com/) in Lincolnton, NC where former IDC member Clint Darst is the lead pastor.

I’ve known Clint for several years as he was on staff with Campus Outreach, a college ministry I was involved with while I attended Elon University. Clint and I became good friends over the course of my college years. He always told me I was going to lead worship for him someday when he planted a church. I always took it as a joke for the most part. Not because I thought it was a ridiculous, unimportant, or unworthy endeavor – mostly because I thought a time I might actually consider leading worship at a church was far off in the future. I continued to feel that way until about three months ago.

Freedom is a small church in a small town about 40 minutes northwest of Charlotte. In light of my musical goals, moving there (to “the middle of nowhere”) to be a worship leader doesn’t make much sense. Though my aim with music has always been to use it as a vehicle and platform to glorify my creator and fulfill the great commission, I have always envisioned doing so in the “secular music world.” Consequently, being a worship leader has never been on my immediate radar. However, God ultimately controls what my radar beholds, not me (thankfully). Though I’m still not entirely sure what stewarding the gift of music will look like in my life in the long term (my thoughts and dreams with regard to that change quite frequently), God has granted me clarity with regard to the short term.

Late last year, after trying to recruit me to Lincolnton for several months, Clint asked me to consider and pray about the idea of leading worship at Freedom one last time. I agreed to pray some more, well aware that it wasn’t my responsibility to meet the specific need of a church three hours away from me. After some more prayer and deliberation, the Lord changed my disposition. Though it wasn’t my responsibility to serve Freedom Church, it was my privilege. Since I don’t have a family of my own, I knew I was able to “pack up and go” without too much difficulty. I also came to the realization (or re-realization) that the Christian life doesn’t always make sense, and, actually, shouldn’t really make sense to the world around us. I concluded that by going to Lincolnton for a season I’d be able to serve God, serve Freedom Church, and force myself to trust and rely on Him more. I also realized that moving to Lincolnton wouldn’t mean abandoning my musical aspirations, it would just mean adjusting them.

And so here I am. Twenty-five years old with bundles of ambition and a desire to be a “musical missionary.” I still think my harvest field lies somewhere in the realm of secular music, but I’m willing to submit to whatever God calls me to. As for now, I plan to continue working as hard as ever on my music in addition to serving Freedom Church to the best of my abilities. Though I will surely miss Imago Dei, I’m confident God has a purpose and lesson for me in this upcoming season of life as a worship leader. I’ve visited Freedom a few times now and I’ve met many wonderful people who truly love the Lord. I’m excited to serve them and assist them in worshiping our God. Though it still seems farfetched to me, perhaps God will reveal that being a worship leader is my calling. Or perhaps he will show me a different path to steward my particular gifting. Ultimately, I know if I’m serving and obeying Him, my feet need not worry where they go. I don’t know much, just that Jesus is worthy of any difficult decision or “sacrifice” I could ever make!

Here’s a free download of my newest single. May it be a reminder to pray for me as I seek to glorify Jesus in my life.

http://www.mediafire.com/folder/cnm221bk6qhlv//Light%20-%20Free%20Single

http://www.facebook.com/FrankHurdMusic

http://frankhurdmusic.com/

IDC Member & Musician Frank Hurd Departs for Freedom Church

For those of you who don’t know me, my name’s Frank Hurd. I’m a musician (songwriter, recording artist) by profession – in addition to the occasional odd job! I’m originally from Rhode Island, and have been attending Imago Dei since I moved to Raleigh about a year ago. This week I’ll be departing IDC to go serve and lead worship at Freedom Church (http://freedomchurchnc.com/) in Lincolnton, NC where former IDC member Clint Darst is the lead pastor.

I’ve known Clint for several years as he was on staff with Campus Outreach, a college ministry I was involved with while I attended Elon University. Clint and I became good friends over the course of my college years. He always told me I was going to lead worship for him someday when he planted a church. I always took it as a joke for the most part. Not because I thought it was a ridiculous, unimportant, or unworthy endeavor – mostly because I thought a time I might actually consider leading worship at a church was far off in the future. I continued to feel that way until about three months ago.

Freedom is a small church in a small town about 40 minutes northwest of Charlotte. In light of my musical goals, moving there (to “the middle of nowhere”) to be a worship leader doesn’t make much sense. Though my aim with music has always been to use it as a vehicle and platform to glorify my creator and fulfill the great commission, I have always envisioned doing so in the “secular music world.” Consequently, being a worship leader has never been on my immediate radar. However, God ultimately controls what my radar beholds, not me (thankfully). Though I’m still not entirely sure what stewarding the gift of music will look like in my life in the long term (my thoughts and dreams with regard to that change quite frequently), God has granted me clarity with regard to the short term.

Late last year, after trying to recruit me to Lincolnton for several months, Clint asked me to consider and pray about the idea of leading worship at Freedom one last time. I agreed to pray some more, well aware that it wasn’t my responsibility to meet the specific need of a church three hours away from me. After some more prayer and deliberation, the Lord changed my disposition. Though it wasn’t my responsibility to serve Freedom Church, it was my privilege. Since I don’t have a family of my own, I knew I was able to “pack up and go” without too much difficulty. I also came to the realization (or re-realization) that the Christian life doesn’t always make sense, and, actually, shouldn’t really make sense to the world around us. I concluded that by going to Lincolnton for a season I’d be able to serve God, serve Freedom Church, and force myself to trust and rely on Him more. I also realized that moving to Lincolnton wouldn’t mean abandoning my musical aspirations, it would just mean adjusting them.

And so here I am. Twenty-five years old with bundles of ambition and a desire to be a “musical missionary.” I still think my harvest field lies somewhere in the realm of secular music, but I’m willing to submit to whatever God calls me to. As for now, I plan to continue working as hard as ever on my music in addition to serving Freedom Church to the best of my abilities. Though I will surely miss Imago Dei, I’m confident God has a purpose and lesson for me in this upcoming season of life as a worship leader. I’ve visited Freedom a few times now and I’ve met many wonderful people who truly love the Lord. I’m excited to serve them and assist them in worshiping our God. Though it still seems farfetched to me, perhaps God will reveal that being a worship leader is my calling. Or perhaps he will show me a different path to steward my particular gifting. Ultimately, I know if I’m serving and obeying Him, my feet need not worry where they go. I don’t know much, just that Jesus is worthy of any difficult decision or “sacrifice” I could ever make!

Here’s a free download of my newest single. May it be a reminder to pray for me as I seek to glorify Jesus in my life.

http://www.mediafire.com/folder/cnm221bk6qhlv//Light%20-%20Free%20Single

http://www.facebook.com/FrankHurdMusic

http://frankhurdmusic.com/

Church Planting Night Imago Dei Church

Imago Dei is committed to planting churches. We believe this is a major aspect of the command of our Christ to make disciples of all nations. Our King has chosen to use the church to carry out this mission and so we want to be about our King’s mission to see outposts of the kingdom planted all over the world. In light of this conviction, we will have a Thursday night committed to hearing about our vision for church planting, as well as hearing from those that we will be sending out in the next 18months.

On March 13th Thursday at 6:30pm we will hear from the brothers who will be planting out of Imago Dei, as well as have a panel discussion about church planting (If you have specific questions for the panel send them to nate@idcraleigh.com). We hope that you will make plans to attend. And we hope that you will pray about supporting these plants: through prayer, financially, and through considering going with them to make disciples in the cities in which they will plant.

We are asking our members to bring a snack or dessert for that evening – from 6 – 6:30 we will enjoy coffee, food, and fellowship together. Please make plans to attend.

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How The Gospel Can Overcome Sex Trafficking

At the ERLC Leadership Summit, Tony Merida will be speaking on “Traffic Stop: How the Gospel can Overcome Sex Trafficking.” Register for the Leadership Summit here.

Why is the issue of human trafficking important for evangelical churches to consider?

It’s an important question culturally because it’s so widespread. Every person should be concerned about his or her abused neighbors.
But it’s also an important question theologically. When thinking about sex trafficking, we need to answer questions like these: (1) Who is God? (2) What is a person? (3) How powerful is the gospel?
If we believe that God is a God of justice, then we should desire to reflect his character by seeking justice on behalf of the oppressed. If we believe that people are actually created in the image of God, then we must conclude that they are worthy of respect, dignity and basic human rights. We should value all people because we value their maker.

In addition to basic human rights, I also believe that it’s not right for someone not to hear the gospel, and in many cases, those trapped in slavery may never be exposed to the Good News, which promises them new life, and a kingdom where lions and lambs play together. Jesus is the life-changer – he can change the hearts of not only those enslaved, but even the hearts of wicked enslavers. By his grace, God causes the dead come to life; the enslaved to go free; the unrighteous to become righteous; and the broken to dance with joy. That’s the ultimate hope that we have to offer the world, but we may never have that privilege if we don’t first engage on the physical, economical, judicial, and societal front.

We can’t live with our heads in the sand on this issue; we need to be alert, wise, compassionate, and gospel-driven in order to love our enslaved neighbor, and to reflect the nature of our merciful and just God.

When you think about human trafficking, what is a key aspect that churches aren’t addressing adequately? Why is that the case?
I can’t speak for every church, but my instinct is that we aren’t doing much of anything. Of course, they’re exceptional churches, but my hunch is that many churches aren’t addressing the issue theologically, consistently and strategically.
Why the neglect? Well, some think that doing justice ministry is a distraction to the real mission, that it’s a “slippery slope to liberalism,” that it’s a fad or that it’s something that’s simply optional. I reject all of these.

Others aren’t engaging the battle because of fear (justice work requires courage), despair (“the problem is so great, what’s the point?”), apathy or ignorance (they’ve never been taught about the issue and the Christian response).

One of the areas I’m most passionate about – and an area I think the church should explore more – is aftercare. Many victims who are rescued from trafficking need loving, restorative care. They need everything from basic skill training to a basic understanding of the gospel. They need to see what a healthy family looks like, and what a healthy church looks like. We who have been welcomed into the kingdom by Jesus, should be quick to welcome those who need healing.

Of course, this is not the only thing we can do (we should also be speaking truth to power, praying, relieving poverty and trying to fix broken structures that increases vulnerability), but this is one area that comes to mind immediately. Gospel-centered aftercare is a huge need.

This conference seeks to apply the gospel to issues related to human sexuality. What are some ways the gospel relates to human trafficking?

In Luke 7, there is a beautiful scene of a woman who is simply called “A sinful woman.” Most commentators think she was a prostitute. We don’t know her name, and we don’t know why she got involved in such a life. But what we do know is that she worshiped Jesus far better than the religious Pharisees. Why? Because she had been changed by Jesus. She who spent her whole life practicing a perverted form of hospitality (prostitution), was now, in purity, washing the feet of Jesus with her hair; she who spent her whole life giving unholy kisses, couldn’t stop kissing his feet; she who spent her whole life being abused by men, was being valued by the greatest of all men. Her dignity was restored. Her sins were forgiven. And consequently “she loved much” (7:47). Jesus says, “Do you see this woman?” We should see her, and we should act. Let’s free battered and broken people from the jaws of evil men, and introduce them to the Savior, who alone can say, “Your sins are forgiven…. Your faith has saved you; go in peace” (7:48, 50).

If evangelical churches transformed the way they handled the subject of trafficking, how would it reshape their congregations?

It would make us more like Jesus. We should be measuring spiritual maturity by how much we look like Jesus, not by how many books/blogs we’ve read, how many retweets we got this week, or by how many sermons we podcasted this week. When you read the New Testament, you can’t help but to catch the spirit of Jesus’ concern for the poor and the marginalized. We should long to look like him. And if we would care for these individuals, we would not only look more like Jesus, we would also find amazing personal blessing, we would realize that word and deed ministry go together powerfully, and we would provide an attractive witness to a watching world.

Originally posted at the ERLC