Dear First Pres,
If you've missed either of the last two sermons in our Biblical Vision series, I encourage you to go to our website and listen. I'm sorry if that sounds like I'm tooting my own horn. I'm not saying this because I think they were such awesome sermons; I'm saying it because I think they were important sermons for shaping the way we think about our lives individually and corporately. In particular, I believe the passages we looked at from Habakkuk 2 and Revelation 7 are hugely important when we think about our church's purpose and our vision for the future.
One of the things I pointed out from Revelation 7 is the reminder that the multitude of believers standing before the throne in John's vision are from "every nation, tribe, people, and language." None of us were probably surprised by that. We know that the universal Church is all over the world. And, even in our own city, we know that there are different kinds of churches reaching different kinds of people. This is good news. There is no single local church that can reach everyone; our city needs lots of different churches reaching lots of different people.
However, I believe this passage does compel us to be intentionally seeking to become a congregation that reflects the ethnic and socio-economic demographics in our neighborhood and city. Why? It's because that's what the Kingdom of God when it comes in fullness, will look like. And part of what we're called to do in the world is to demonstrate for the world what the Kingdom of God is like. We are the witnesses of Jesus to the world in word and deed, individually but even more powerfully, corporately. We do that best when our congregation represents the fullness of the community.
This was one of the most provocative realities of the early church. Those first congregations in the Gentile world included slave and free, women and men, rich and poor, Jew and Gentile, young and old, educated and uneducated. It was incredibly counter-cultural, but it showed the world what kind of community Jesus Christ initiated, and what kind of community (or multitude) He would gather to Himself in the end.
I don't have all the answers to how we make this happen in our church. I know it will take time. I know it will take intentional efforts individually and corporately. I know it will take great spiritual maturity from those of us who have been here the longest. And I know that it will challenge us in our faith because it won't happen apart from trusting in Jesus. So, I invite you to join me in praying that God will grow FPC Fresno in this way. That He will help us become a congregation that more vividly reflects the multitude that John saw in his vision of Heaven.