So: the primary benefit of this sermon series and Radical Impact Project is that young girls close to home will receive freedom from the bonds of sexual slavery. I think it’s about the best way that churches today can live into Jesus’ self-described mission on planet earth:
[God] has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners
and recovery of sight for the blind,
to release the oppressed,
to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor. Luke 4:18
Yet as we plan and carry out this project around here, I notice a number of other benefits — benefits that bring blessing to us as individuals and us as a congregation. Here are five of them:
5. It allows a large church to feel small. As we spend the next couple of weeks sharing this vision of generosity and freedom in leader meetings and Life Group gatherings, the people of Good Shepherd are forging new relationships and re-kindling old ones. It serves as yet another reminder that if you really want to get to know people, you’ve got to meet with them in their homes.
4. It builds a generation of givers. We will talk openly, honestly, and boldly about money during this series. We’ll take up the offering on January 27 in a much more overt way than our usual “drop your gift in the basket on the way out.” And one of our prayers is that by inviting (or imploring!) people to give to this cause, folks will experience the recurring joy of recognizing that all their money belongs to God in the first place and it is a privilege to return a portion to him.
3. It allows us to speak to issues that make people squirm. There is nothing pretty about human trafficking. That term itself — human trafficking — is itself a gentle way of saying rape for profit. That’s what these girls are victims of — sexual assault that lines the pockets of the worst the human race can conceive of. But here’s the truth: Christian men — church-going men — are part of the problem. If men within the Body of Christ did not generate the demand, then there would not be such a sickening supply.
2. It gives congregational identity. In a lot of ways, Good Shepherd’s identity and strength comes from these Radical Impact Projects, whether it’s packing 192,000 meals as Sunday worship, returning 2,846 Operation Christmas Child shoe boxes, raising $207,000 for International Justice Mission, or Home.
1. It gives the church momentum. When an entire community of people rally around a single cause — and that cause is beyond themselves — an unstoppable kind of momentum surfaces. This past Sunday, when we made the announcement of our goal and its scope, a woman approached me in the lobby and said, “This is why I love being part of this church.” Me too.