A tsunami of debris engulfed the city blocks surrounding the World Trade Center. Just prior to this wave of debris, smoke rose in the New York City skyline as both towers were struck by hijacked commercial airliners on September 11, 2001. Thousands attempted to escape the chaos of the enflamed buildings and surrounding area. While hordes of people were panicking as they ran away from the direction of the twin towers, heroically others ran to the site as the towers eventually collapsed in a massive ruble.
People were right to run away from the danger, but who would run to it and why? First responders, that’s who. Thank God for first responders who train and prepare for times such as September 11. Instead of running away from danger and distress, first responders run to it.
The Great Commission is about followers of Jesus running to the needs of the world. We lay down our lives (both figuratively and sometimes literally) for the hordes of people running to escape the chaos of life. I was recently reminded of this gospel call when a pastor in a large Midwest city told our vision trip team of a shooting in his neighborhood. Instead of avoiding the location where the incident occurred, his church went and set up on the corner of the street to engage with family members and neighbors. They were there to proclaim that hope is found in Jesus alone. This church functioned like first responders.
This same church, on a weekly basis, has “night church” in a section of town that is known as a hot spot for trouble late at night. They gather near the street and play Christian music, share testimonies of God’s transforming power, and talk with neighbors about the good news of Jesus. The church is running to the needs in their community. They are, in fact, first responders bringing hope in the name of Jesus.
Churches across our nation and state can learn much from this Midwest large city new church. Here are some takeaways that will help us all in our Great Commission work:
- Be a church that runs to the needs in your community with gospel hope.
- To run to the needs, we need to know our communities.
- To know our communities, we must immerse our lives in the community.
- Immersing our lives in our communities requires a continual presence in the community.
The chaos of sin is sweeping across the communities of our state and nation like a tsunami. It would be easy for the church to simply quarantine itself from the debris and mess. However, this is not the Jesus way. He calls us to run to the need, not away from the need. How will your church respond to the chaos of sin in your community? Will you be a first responder with gospel urgency?