This fall has been an exciting time for me as the new Women’s Missional Director to get to cast the vision and launch the women’s ministry at the Chapel! My mission is to make women ministry first and foremost about the Gospel of Jesus Christ before it’s about women.
As the gospel takes root in our hearts and we begin to Gather God’s way as the early church did, we can observe their example of how the gospel changes everything. The Gospel goes beyond being just a good belief on paper, or just good news for us- it unleashes us into a lifestyle of giving it away, of loving God and others, while welcoming them into the family of God. This is where Agape Women’s ministry eclipses women with the gospel; God didn’t just save us from sin, He saved us for His purposes on earth, and He gifted us with spiritual gifts to all work together as the Body, as we move together on mission for Jesus.
But it’s only when we gather together that we can truly live out our new gospel identities; it is here in our new family with our new gifts and purpose that we finally belong. This is why it’s so important that we gather God’s way, instead of trying to reimagine our own ways. Let’s not reinvent, let’s just stick with God’s design!
To set the tone of women’s ministry at the Chapel, I wanted to give this call to “Gather God’s Way” from Acts 2:42-47. But before our first GATHER event, I first formed teams to helped plan and host, so each woman would have the opportunity to use her gifts to build up the Body of Christ. Each GATHER happens every 2-3 months and serves as a connection point to unify all the women of the Chapel, give them a chance to plug into a weekly group, join a GATHER leadership team, and have a place to invite a not yet believing friend to. We had an incredible time at our first one, with amazing food, great table conversation, lots of laughs, and a wonderful start to many amazing things to come!
Below is a written synopsis of my message, “Gather God’s Way” from Acts 2:42-47. We Gather because of the Gospel, to grow, to give, to go on mission, and for God’s glory.
Why do we GATHER?
God has wired us with the desire to belong.
What are some of the ways you’ve tried to belong? Think Junior High style. There are some hilarious ways that we’ve all probably tried to fit in over the years. I remember dumping a bottle of Sun-In all over my hair in the dead of winter as a young junior high student. My dreams of becoming a beach-blonde quickly faded into a steady stream of orange, to the tune of my blowdrier on high. Instead of belonging, I quickly felt like I would never be talked to again with bright orange hair, and especially not by my 7th grade crush! As young people who are just learning how to navigate the need to belong, its easy to cling to externals to try and fill our internal gaps, but whether we succeed or fail at our latest quick external fix, it doesn’t take much time to realize that we were created with a need to be loved and accepted on a much deeper level.
A major theme of my life has been searching to belong while being broken. I spent the first 15 years of my life not knowing Jesus, and devoting all of my energy on gathering my own way, with a growing awareness of my need to belong on a much deeper level than my dreams of being a beach blonde in the Chicago winter. This desire to belong led me down some bad roads with worse consequences than orange hair, and the consequences of my sin only made my problems worse. Turns out I wasn’t the only one that was broken, we are all a bunch of messed up sinners, and without Jesus entering into our stories as the hero to rescue us, it’s a pretty hopeless storyline
I didn’t truly belong until I met Jesus and began gathering God’s way instead of my own messed up version rooted in self-promotion and insecurity. The funny thing is that in Jesus, I actually belong despite of my brokenness, even because of it because I now belonged to Him, and found my worth and identity rooted in what He did for me on the cross, and especially in rising from the dead. The gospel is the good news that we are actually way worse off, more sinful than we ever dared to admit, but in Christ, wildly more loved and accepted than our hearts could ever hope for.
I don’t think I’m alone on this quest for belonging, I’m pretty confident that we’re all looking to belong, but the problem is many of us are hung up on gathering our own way- and you know what that means- more brokenness.
Jesus died for our sin, rose again and then started the church. It was his idea and his plan for how we should spent our new lives in Christ, rooted with our new family.
If we want to truly belong, we’ll have to gather God’s way, and his way may or may not match up with our current church experiences.
Let’s open together and read Acts 2:42-47 as we seek to GATHER and launch this women’s ministry God’s way.
“And they devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers. And awe came upon every soul, and many wonders and signs were being done through the apostles. And all who believed were together and had all things in common. And they were selling their possessions and belongings and distributing the proceeds to all, as any had need. And day by day, attending the temple together and breaking bread in their homes, they received their food with glad and generous hearts, praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to their number day by day those who were being saved.”
GATHER BECAUSE OF THE GOSPEL
-Acts is about the birth of church
-From law, to relationship
-The veil was torn-the church was born
-Given the Holy Spirit, instead of temple,
-Gifted as a vital part of His Kingdom
-New family that’s eternal, goes beyond bloodline
-Gather because new gospel identity
-Unlike the world that divides, Jesus unites
Galatians 3:26-28 “So in Christ Jesus you are all children of God through faith, There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.”
- Gospel breaks down external barriers, ways our sin and world tend to divide or oppress us
- Unites all of our differences into a redeemed, beautiful, diverse family of God
GATHER TO GROW
“And they devoted themselves to the Apostles teaching and the fellowship, the the breaking of bread and the prayers. And awe comes upon every soul, and many wonders and signs we’re being done through the Apostles”
When we GATHER GOD’S WAY, we GROW:
- Devoted themselves to the apostles teaching, which at the time was the Gospel, the good news! (Now also the Word)
- Apply gospel to everyday stuff of life
- Fellowship- gathering because new identity in Jesus for God’s purposes, not ours. Not gathering just to gather.
- Do life together/ opening bible together
- Breaking of bread/communion- remembering the death and resurrection of Jesus, all comes back to Jesus!
- Place to be real/confessing sins, not about being good in our own strength, celebrating what Jesus did.
- Many wonders and signs- the indwelling of the Spirit enables and unleashed a new access to God
- Hurts healed, sins in light, restoring each other back to Jesus
GATHER TO GIVE:
“And all who believed were together and had all things in common. And they were selling their possessions and belongings and distributing the proceeds to all, as any had need”
When we GATHER GODS WAY, we GIVE:
-They were together, had all things in common.
-Commitment, planning, reorienting life around coming together. It doesn’t happen by accident
-Requires humility, thinking of others needs more important than yours, laying aside our preferences for the sake of unity, God’s glory and the spreading of the gospel
-Selling their processions to provide for others needs:
-Humility, close relationships- enough to share your needs and know of others needs
-Life on life community, not formal programs
-Transferring of your identity and life, to Jesus and His life in the church, His body
-Everything we have is God’s and open to how He wants us to use it
GATHER TO GO ON MISSION
“And day by day, attending the temple together and breaking break in their homes, they received their food with glad and generous hearts, praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to their number day by day those who were being saved.”
When we GATHER GODS WAY, we GO ON MISSION:
-Their lifestyle was gathering as the church, gathering in homes for life and meals, giving praise to God in what they did,
-Their lifestyle overflowing into other relationships “having favor with all the people”
-Inviting others into our families as we go about our everyday lives, welcoming them into the family of God is a natural way for people to see the Gospel play out, hear it and be saved.
-Living on mission for Jesus is a reorienting of our everyday lives, thinking of ourselves as missionaries, sharing Jesus in the everyday stuff, wherever we gather, break bread, or frequent.
GATHER FOR GODS GLORY
“Whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do everything for God’s Glory.” -1 Cor. 10:31
When we GATHER GODS WAY, GOD GETS THE GLORY
-When we gather because of the gospel, to grow, to give, and to go on mission for Jesus, God gets the glory
*When we try to reinvent why we gather or gather for our own kingdoms and glory, it becomes broken, we wont truly belong, and we won’t be gathering Gods way, for His glory.
We have heard God’s call to Gather:
“Let us consider how we may spur one another on towards love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together (or GATHERING!) as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging each other, and all the more as you see the Day approaching.” -Hebrews 10:24-25
How will you respond today, what’s your next step?
There may be obstacles:
1.) The enemy wants to thwart God’s plan for us to GATHER:
-Enemy comes to steal, kill and destroy- he is the father of lies
-Wants to isolate us, keep us in the dark so we:
-don’t give or receive
-don’t end up living on mission
-don’t give God glory with our lives
2.) Cheap imitation. Every good thing is from God, so don’t let yourselves settle for less!
-Social media connection is not meant to be the substance or validity to our relationships
-Church programs or inventions that don’t keep the gospel at the center, and make it about us instead
-Convincing ourselves we don’t need to gather, and we’re better off alone. We cant live out our identity, use our gifts, or live out our unique purposes God has for our lives if we isolate ourselves.
Imagine what our lives would look like if we began to Gather Gods way!
How would Agape Women begin to grow?
How would your life begin to change?
Would people come to know Jesus?
Let’s begin to gather god’s way, no matter where we’re at:
–Maybe you’re afraid to come and need to be reminded of your gospel identity, & our unity, lets gather for that
-Maybe you want to grow, and aren’t sure where to start- lets gather for that
-Maybe you’re ready to give, or want to live out your unique purpose with your God given gifts- lets gather for that
-Maybe you’re eager to be equipped to share Jesus with your friends and family who don’t know Jesus- lets gather for that!
Imagine if we all committed to gather together God’s way, loving each other unconditionally, which is what Agape means, incredible things would happen!
SIGN UP SHEETS/NEXT STEPS:
-Connect on our Facebook group and stay in the loop
-Come to our GATHER meetings! Next one Saturday Dec 9, 10am-12.
-Join a team that plans & hosts our GATHERs
Hospitality- Aesthetics- Table Hosts
-Agape Missional Communities
-New servant leaders currently training
-sign up for new groups soon
-sign up for our next round of leader training
-Join Agape Moms or Tuesday night bible study