Dear First Pres,
If you weren't here on Sunday, you missed a great celebration of what the Lord is doing through the people who gather for worship on M Street between Calaveras and Stanislaus. We had a combined worship service with Bethany Inner City Church and Hope Now Bible Church, and it was wonderful! It was wonderful because it really was a shared service (not our service with them as guests). It was wonderful because we heard and experienced a taste of what God is doing in these partner ministries. It was wonderful because it gave us a picture of what it might mean for FPC Fresno to become more diverse. And it was wonderful because the Holy Spirit was at work among us to draw our hearts together in grateful praise.
So, the combined worship service was wonderful, but so was the combined service of loving our neighborhood together. I know that there were many who weren't able to stick around for the shared ministry after the service, but those who did were blessed ... even though it was hot. They split up into groups (mostly made up of a mix of folks from each church) and walked the streets around our church to pick up trash and offer prayer for the people they encountered. It was awesome. Most people were eager to receive prayer, the streets looked cleaner than they did before, and (once they got a Popsicle and some cold water) our teams came back with a smile.
One of our Core Values as a church is Transformational Partnership. I can hardly think of a seven day period throughout my time at FPC Fresno that more explicitly exampled that core value. From Sunday night through Friday we partnered with six other ministries to run a fantastic week of City Bible Adventure. Then on Sunday we gathered with the two other churches that meet on our campus to worship. Finally, we capped it off with a shared project to show the love of Christ to our neighborhood. Yet, these seven days form just one example of the many ways that we are partnering with other ministries and organizations every day for the advancement of the Gospel.
Why do we value partnership? It's because we are not simply trying to build the First Presbyterian Church of Fresno kingdom. We are participating in the coming of God's Kingdom. It's so much bigger than our congregation. Plus, when we partner, even though it can make things more complicated, we gain so much more. We learn new things. We allow others to learn from us. And, we show the world that though there are many expressions of the local church we are united in Christ. Finally, as we experienced on Sunday, partnership can be really fun and encouraging. Partnership, when done right, is transformational.
So, I hope you were encouraged on Sunday by what the Lord is doing. I hope you were moved to remember these two partner churches in prayer. I hope you were inspired to be a disciple, empowered by the Spirit, who is fishing for people. And I hope you were motivated to keep loving the neighborhood in which God has placed us.