Every Sunday afternoon we spend time in one of the most marginalized neighborhoods in our city called Newtowne 20. Many children are living below the poverty line, many fathers are not present or have left, grandmothers dote the skyline raising and praying for the neighborhood. We organize a kickball game and the children spread the word. Before we know it 20 + children from the neighborhood are playing or watching the game. We bring fresh fruit and we don't mind that it cuts into the Good Humor man's profits. We share the simple and profound hope and life that Jesus offers humanity through the gospel. We sit in small circles with the children, making disciples by reading the Scriptures, listening to the ups and downs of their week, praying with them, and inviting them to be obedient to Jesus along with us this week. We are training the teenagers to be leaders to the children, we are training ourselves to see the world through a new lens of "we" and not "us and them". We all leave loved and nourished by God's grace among us. Last week an eight year old named Sean professed faith in Christ. This missional community team is now coming together… Including 5 people from our church and 5 people from the neighborhood. We are praying for the Lord to raise up a young man from within the neighborhood who we can train, resource and eventually lead a new church expression in that very neighborhood.
At some point on our journey each of us as a follower of Christ, has to wrestle with the challenging words that Christ Jesus himself, speaks to us in Matthew 28 “to go into the world making disciples of all nations, baptizing them and teaching them to become obedient to Him.” Tragically when most of us look at the landscape of our lives as Christ followers we do more staying in comfort zones than going to the world and very few of us have ever made a disciple. Think about the hours and hours you have spent in endless bible studies, church meetings and programs. Have you ever made one disciple? Some of us have been sitting in pews for more than twenty years and have never made one disciple. And yet, this is Jesus last word to us.
Downtown Hope is a church organizing as a movement, existing to see the gospel of Jesus spread throughout our city, region and world by making disciples. We are repenting and believing the gospel for our hearts daily, abiding in Jesus and remembering that we have been purchased at a great cost and follow the very one who laid his life down. In Jesus we are found to be forgiven, free, raised from the dead, rescued. It is out of this reality that we then join God as we are sent to our friends, family, co-workers and neighbors who are spiritually dead, living without hope and without God in the world and desperately looking for life. By his grace we are laying a foundation for a gospel movement in our area along with many other believers and churches, joining Jesus himself in his global restoration project as he says in Revelation, “I am making all things new” and echoes in Colossians that he is “reconciling all things to himself”.
grace + peace, Joey Tomassoni, Lead Pastor, Downtown Hope