Here at The River Church, you will often hear the words: Reach, Gather, and Grow. Trust me, if you were in our weekly all-staff meetings you would hear these words way more often! However, we do not say them because we are some crazy cult trying to get you to chant along with us or some religious organization that has this as part of a liturgical inheritance. We say these words because it is our vision and the heartbeat of all that we do as a Church. As many of you know, our vision is founded out of Matthew 28:18-20; where Jesus called us as His followers to go into the world, preach the Gospel message, and make disciples for Him. Yet, the cycle does not simply end at Grow; you see as you complete the circle and go from Reach to Gather and Gather to Grow, we must go Back to Reach.
To understand this whole concept of going Back to Reach, I would like to take a look with you at Acts chapter 3.
1. Who is the author of Acts and to whom is he writing?
2. What has just happened in the first two chapters?
In Acts 3:1-10, we have an amazing story of Peter and John’s journey to the temple. Beginning in verse one, “Now Peter and John were going up to the temple at the hour of prayer, the ninth hour. And a man lame from birth was being carried, whom they laid daily at the gate of the temple that is called the Beautiful Gate to ask alms of those entering the temple. Seeing Peter and John about to go into the temple, he asked to receive alms. And Peter directed his gaze at him, as did John, and said, ‘Look at us.’ And he fixed his attention on them, expecting to receive something from them. But Peter said, ‘I have no silver and gold, but what I do have I give to you. In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, rise up and walk!’ And he took him by the right hand and raised him up, and immediately his feet and ankles were made strong. And leaping up, he stood and began to walk, and entered the temple with them, walking and leaping and praising God. And all the people saw him walking and praising God, and recognized him as the one who sat at the Beautiful Gate of the temple, asking for alms. And they were filled with wonder and amazement at what had happened to him.”
3. What time of day was the “ninth hour?”
4. What was the lame man wanting and asking to receive?
A little over three years before this encounter at the temple, Peter and John were in the same boat as this lame man. They had their normal daily routine, trying to make ends meet, yet had a feeling of hopelessness and searching for something more. That is when a real Savior reached into their lives and gave them hope. They then gathered together with ten other men and countless other brothers and sisters in Christ, to grow daily learning about their Heavenly Father and the teachings of Christ. This then brought them to this point in Scripture where they were now going out and reaching those who were getting by every day just making ends meet without hope and purpose as they once were so that they could share the same love and hope that they were given.
5. Do you remember who reached into your life and lead you to Christ?
Back in September of 2018, my wife and I celebrated our first wedding anniversary in Chicago. If you have never gone, it is one of my favorite places to visit! One thing that has always amazed me about Chicago is how diverse it truly is. You can jump on the Brown Line at Washington and Wabash, travel to Chicago Avenue just four stops away and you will see all different religions, races, hear various languages, and encounter rich and homeless all on just that quick of a train ride. So, as my wife and I were walking around the city, she asked me what we could do. I honestly told her that I had no cash on me, but that we could buy them some food or get some gift cards to a local restaurant. We decided to do just that, we took the leftovers from all of our meals and started giving them to those who were asking for food. It did not matter if you were entering the “gate” to the mall, or the “gate” to get onto the CTA (Chicago Transit Authority), there was always a homeless person sitting outside asking for help.
6. Have you ever been to a city and experienced this?
7. If so, how did it make you feel and what did you do?
If I am honest with all of you, my first time in Chicago back in 2010, it was very weird and uncomfortable to see all the homeless men, women, and children. Of course, you want to help, but you cannot possibly help every person.
Unfortunately, people often see an overwhelming need and dismiss it as being too much. You might not be able to do everything, but you can do something.
Reach, Gather, and Grow are essential. They lead and prepare one for Back to Reach. This involves the giving of our time, resources, and even self. God is not asking you to do something He has not equipped you to do, but He is expecting you to do what you can do.
8. How are you serving in the Church?
9. What skills, talents, and interests do you have that should be used somehow for Him?
At the next gathering, fill out the gathering notes card and give it to Guest Services. Remember, we do not “go” to Church; we are the Church.