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Ben Willey: Welcome back everybody. This is episode number five of our DNA series here at fellowship podcast. I am with pastor mark and pastor Mike. I am pastor Ben and we are looking at DNA statement number four, DNA statement number four is the word Mission with the tagline we are called to make a redemptive impact on our community.

Mike, I got to go to you first. Cause you have a statement that I have come to love and say, without giving you any credit for. The statement is formation is for mission. How does that fit into the calling of the church and go along with this statement?

Mike Candy: Well, it is not my statement, but thank you. It’s a statement from a professor and I heard it and it was like, wow, that is exactly what the church is for.

And we can really be fooled into thinking that church is just, you know, come together and huddle and be warm and go out. So we are, you know, we can fight against the evil, which it is. But we can’t make a redemptive impact on our community. I’m saying we can’t make that redemptive impact if we’re not being made and formed into people that have been redeemed.

So that’s certainly important, but it’s not all that it’s for. The redemptive impact can’t happen also because if we just stay in the church, we haven’t really left to go make that impact. I have this idea, this idea that I keep hearing in different ways and it just, it keeps coming up that it seems like the church should look more like a gym than an auditorium or a theater.

There’s the modern setup of church. And certainly our churches the very same way. There’s an elevated stage there’s lights in the direction of our focus on a teacher. But what if we understood that the goal of a sermon, the goal of coming together worship on a Sunday morning was not just downloading information and learning, but that it was for the purpose of shaping, forming, and then sending and going the mission of Christ being lived out.

And I think you can’t escape from Matthew 28, go and make disciples of all nations. Jesus’ command. It’s an imperative and a strange thing that we think maybe is for super spiritual people, but there’s no… this is not an optional thing. We, we do this is “go and make” imperative from Christ. So certainly it’s a place of formation, but if that’s all that it is, we will lose what the whole goal of our faith is, is to make disciples of all nations, teaching them, all these things that Jesus says I’ve commanded you.

So I think that’s important.

Ben Willey: Dale Marshfield, a missionary that came out of a fellowship that we support, had an example of exactly what you’re saying. He talked about when they used to have glass Coke bottles and the glass Coke bottle. So it would go and they’d get drank and they get beat up and shipped and all those things, and then they’d eventually make their way and get their way back to the Coke factory, where they would repair fix, put new labels on and then fill up with Coke and send them back out to be drank again before the plastic revolution, I guess.

That, that was his image of church is coming together and, and you go out there and you’re living your mission. You come back and you get refilled up, you get re understood and you get formation in your own life. And then you head back out to be a part of the mission of God in the world. Pastor Mark, when we say community, we are called to make a redemptive impact on our community.

What is our community and how does this even fit with the series in Acts that we’re looking at currently right now, as we’re making this podcast and the calling of the church?

Mark Willey: Well, I do think the, the chronological geographical development of Jerusalem, Judea, Sumeria to the ends of the earth is, is built for the whole church age and certainly the local church.

And I think it starts with it. And I like what a lot, what Mike was saying that we first have to be serving even people within our own church community. It’s interesting to me in the book of Acts, it says. There were three times in the first three chapters and Acts two, five, and six. It talks about how the church exploded with growth.

Here’s what they followed. First of all, it followed the statement. All the believers were one together, had everything in common acts two. The second explosive growth, actually the second deep impact on the community it says was in Acts 5 after the church discipline, actually of Ananias and Saphira. And in Acts six, after the deacons were put together, it says in the verses, after that the church surged and growth.

So there has to be the care of the body to really be a church that is going to minister. And I do love that picture. I think our, our Jerusalem includes the people that even come to our church that are not believers. And there are a number that come not only on a Sunday, but in ministries all week long.

It also includes the schools and all the people around us, people were doing life within our businesses. Judea Sumeria to me is, is the local ministries that we’re involved in through both of our campuses. And to the ends of the earth is the worldwide missions emphasis that our church has had from day one through missionaries and mission trips.

Going forth all over the world.

Ben Willey: We did a, I sent an email to Scott. Scott does a lot of our administration pastor Scott here at the church and just asked how much money have we donated to international missions over the years, just because it’s such a large percent of our budget continually. I’m very excited to tell you that number, but I’m going to look up my email while Mike answers the next question.

So I have that number Mike, about mission, this is in that local Jerusalem area in the church. We had a real honest conversation about Naitivity this last year. And with we had a year off because of COVID and not an ability to do it in 2020. So in 2021, we came with the question, okay, are we going to continue this? Are we going to restart this? And how do we approach that? We looked at this question of mission and tell us what are some of the factors that helped us wonder if, if the mission had changed or why did we decide according to this statement to revamp and renew naitivity energy here at fellowship.

Mike Candy: So the living nativity happens at Christmas.

If you don’t know that, and it’s a way of telling the whole story of Christ beginning to end. But before we go Christmas, I got to go summer because. One of the things that impacted me in incredible ways in this space is pastor Jim every summer. I was an intern for a number of summers and then worked summer ministries alongside of pastor Jim with youth for many years.

And it seemed like a broken record every year we would sit down and ask should we do this thing that we’ve done for the past five years. And I’m like, Jim, it worked before. Why wouldn’t we just do it again? And every year we’d come up with reasons that we are doing it. Some of them are similar, but we’d also ask honest questions that possibly, if this is not actually accomplishing this mission, that we’ve set out for it to accomplish, then we let it go and we allow God to lead us in a different direction. So when nativity came up after COVID a year off, it is a ton of work. Pastor Tim does an incredible amount of work on it. And staff engages in some ways as well. And so we just asked the question, is it worth the effort to pull this thing off again?

And we couldn’t get away from the fact that as a community of believers, we have thousands of people walking up to the church to hear the entire gospel, not just Mary and Joseph and donkeys in a stable, but creation, brokenness, and fall the redemption, the way that Christ rose again, after his death and the cross, and people just line up to listen to this whole story, how could we not take the opportunity?

Like this every year to tell that story over and over again, possibly the most concentrated gospel centered moment in our churches every year history that we get to have, where a lot of us are part of that storytelling. And that’s a beautiful thing. So I think when we ask the question, should we revamp it, renew it?

Yes. Keep it updated, all those things, but the same gospel mission is there and we can’t get away from. Hmm,

Ben Willey: This is looking at to whoever wants to jump in. One of the cool things about mission is that it’s creative. Someone said that the church should be the most creative force in the world. We have the holy spirit and we can uniquely have mission in various places. And that looks differently in different places. It looks different to shut-ins in Moorestown, New Jersey than it does to youth in Cairo, Egypt. So what, what creative mission ideas are you excited about that are coming up here at the church?

And while they’re both taking notes I did look up the number for how much we have sent through our missions. And it’s a 7.3 million in the last 22 years. So we don’t have numbers exactly before that offhand, but in the last 22 years, since 2000. 7.3, but which is cool because you.

You want your dollars to follow what your calling is. And to say, this church has not just been about, about its ministry and not just about it’s very local area, but that people have given. And we have support international missions to that level is a demonstration that this is a lasting part of our DNA, which is exciting.

Okay back to you guys about creativity since I just bought you some time,

Mike Candy: Can I give a creative answer?

Ben Willey: Ooh, please do.

Mike Candy: I was on a prayer retreat and was retreating to my car because I realized that at my house or in my office, as part of this class that I’m in, we’re not places I was allowed to be.

So I got in my car and drove around and was praying. I had to do it for four hours, just really largely silent in some ways. And God took me past a number of sections right in our area past bamboo, which sounds like a strange thing to say on a podcast about the church mission, but I hate bamboo It takes over everything and just consumes everything in sight.

And when it gets planted, it’s like that property is doomed, you know? But I thought about it as the Lord was bringing this to my attention that we live in a culture in Mount Laurel that naturally the trends and the things that everybody does in Mount Laurel, we will also be sucked into a part from Christ.

And there’s this moment that I drove to the next place. And here’s this awkward looking tree in the middle of a swamp, nothing was around it, except for this weird looking tree. And God said, be that tree in the middle of that swamp though, it looks awkward. It is not carried in in this pervasive culture around us.

One of the things for me is as a mission, creative thing is this idea of inhabiting the land. One of the things I’m sensing a lot of families in our community are doing are just being present in moments when God shows up on the side of a sports field or being aware that a Tuesday afternoon with a coworker or at your gym or wherever it is, are opportunities for gospel conversations.

They are not just missions trips where we really hyper-focus, we pray like crazy. And then we go, which are important and good, and have their place been impacted in large ways in my life by missions trips. But we have to live missionally all the time. Realizing that we never go and take the gospel. We never go and take God to people. God is already at work. We just join in. And so, it is those Tuesday afternoon conversations where God has just plowed this person’s heart, he’s planted seeds, and I’m showing up and being a representative of Christ in those moments. Maybe not creative, but just apparent that that’s how God works.

Ben Willey: Hmm. It’s beautiful to see that. And Mike, in particular, in this exact area where church is, you and your family have lived out that mission in countless ways in our community. And it’s been encouraging, inspiring and convicting to watch you live that way.

Mike Candy: I plan to run for mayor next year.

Ben Willey: Run on the, “we’re going to rid the bamboo” from

Something I’m excited about and none of these are exactly planned, but there’s a lot of conversation. Some of these are planned, about mission trips and in our season when we’re making this podcast, we’re kind of in a tough, have been in a tough spot of knowing where you can travel, restrictions COVID et cetera, but there is many short-term missions trips that are in the planning process, international, domestic ones even within our local community, wants to states outside of New Jersey and then ones to countries outside of the US and I’m excited because each one of these trips that we’re talking about, it looks a little bit different.

But each one of them uniquely is carrying the gospel. And it’s exciting for me to be able to get back into sending people to the ends of the earth. And, and building that passion for international and local mission.

Mark Willey: I, I’m always excited with the emphasis on mission trips with the youth. So many of our young people, even those that have now come on, staff.

Who have gone out. Some of them gone out into ministry, into missions themselves, cite the experiences of going, being a part of the world, being a part of the ends of the earth and seeing God work. I’m certainly excited with continually with CR, which continues to bring people from our immediate communities.

That would, many of them would not normally come to a church on a Sunday, but are coming to, and being presented with Christ. The rise clinic. You want to say a little more about the rise clinic what’s going on there?

Ben Willey: Sure. The rice clinic is something we started in Collingswood through the Collingswood campus about six months ago.

And that’s looking to take the whole gospel to the whole person and It’s there was a Bishop that gave a presentation at an urban promise banquet a long time ago and said, he said simply he believed when he was going to get to heaven. One of the questions that he was going to be asked being from south Jersey is what did you do with Camden?

And the Collingswood is a half mile from Camden and in a very real way, the whole stretch of where we’re in between as a lower socioeconomic. And our desire in being there is to be an outpost for mission and recognizing that the needs there, just like the needs anywhere else are unique.

And so we’ve started a clinic where we have professional services, including some medical things from job finding, ID, getting helping people with bike, repair, professional counseling hoping to have some law. Some lawyers give their time, as well as we’re trying to help people with practical services, we teach English as a second language to immigrant families.

And so to give practical services all while building relationships based on the gospel, and we give the gospel each time that we have the rise clinic and it’s been an incredible place and incredible community we’ve had this last year, we did an event on Thanksgiving and had so many people who didn’t have anywhere else to go on Thanksgiving, just come and share a meal with, we did the same thing for Christmas morning and we believe that life change happens in relationships. And so the whole gospel to the whole person working through practical needs, working through deep relationship connection, and also teaching and speaking and living the gospel with people has been so exciting. But, and, and the exciting thing is, is we don’t know how long these podcasts will live.

I mean, hearing Mike and all the wisdom coming from him, probably a long time, but, but the nature of, even as this goes out, or there’s things happening in time, the mission will look different as we look to follow the spirit into the teaching, the same truth to people in their point of need in new ways, which is an exciting thing to be a part of here and all across this beautiful world God’s given us to minister. Amen. Amen.

That concludes DNA number four, which if you made it this long, you are more than halfway there. Whoa, whoa, whoa. Living on a prayer

Mark Willey: This is actually number five, but

Mike Candy: This is podcast five DNA 4. If you’re confused, you just caught us also confused.

Ben Willey: Okay. We’re leaving. Bye.