Gospel Incarnation Series [Part 3 of 3]: Click | View Series
And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us and we beheld his glory of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and full of truth.
– John 1:14
I have drawn out Terra Nova’s system of living out the gospel from John 1:14. If the body of Christ is to live out the mission of Christ, it must be the things that John represents—present, full of truth, and full of grace. We have created three zones out of which that happens: Justice, Culture, and Mercy.
Everyone needs help at some time, whether from self-inflicted wounds, societal ills, or family sins. To be present to give that aid is to administer mercy and grace. In this way, we try to reflect Jesus’ presence, being full of grace, and we try to reflect what the prophets commanded, that we are to do justice and to love mercy.
Again, we believe that being narrow and deep is important. In a world where, as Bob Dylan said, “There’s so much oppression can’t keep track of it no more,” we must choose something and commit time and resources to being Christ in its midst. People will undoubtedly try to suck you into their “cause du jour,” but being pulled in many directions will only leave you ineffective and frustrated. Being particular allows for laser-like focus on one or two issues, bringing intensity and depth that lead to real change.
Living Out Mercy
We chose homelessness as our focus for living out mercy. That has meant a holistic approach beginning with the issue of street homelessness. Working with other churches, we are developing an in-from-the-cold program utilizing inner city churches equipped with cots to house the homeless in the wintertime. We also work with the only shelter in our county, a non-Christian agency called Joseph’s House ministering consistently to the people who come through their doors. Here we can make a difference, demonstrating the love of Christ through providing food and companionship. But this is an itinerant community. Perhaps more importantly, we have developed deep relationships with the staff at Joseph’s House, revealing life in Christ to those with whom we can have an ongoing dialogue.
Joseph’s House partners with The Lansing, a sort of halfway house for some folks who are ready to move out of Joseph’s House. It differs from transitional housing in that some of its residents will always be in an assisted living situation due to mental illness or other issues. Terra Nova provides volunteer staff at the Lansing, individuals who have the gift of loving people society has thrown away, and treating them with the dignity and respect they deserve as those created in the image of God.
Lastly, Terra Nova partners with Habitat for Humanity, providing homes for those who need an extra hand extended to them. From immediate homelessness, to crisis shelter, to continuing shelter, assessment and care, to ultimately home ownership, we believe we are addressing the issue of homelessness in a deep and effective way, thereby living out the mercy of Christ.
Narrow and Deep
We as a church are trying to live out an imitation of Christ in being present, full of truth, and full of grace. I strongly encourage planters to pick issues that make sense to their congregational identity, their cultural DNA, their geographical footprint. I further encourage them to take the time to choose what they do and invest in it narrowly and deeply.
We are happy to share anything we have learned regarding city life, homelessness and human trafficking with any church pastors and planters who wish to dialogue more.
Note: For more info go to terranovachurch.org.