We have just finished our SENT series, a four week exploration of what it means to live as Gods people sent into mission. Our key text was Jesus commissioning of the 72 (and us), As the Father sent me, I am sending you. (John 20:21) Along the way we were reminded of the incredible privilege we have of participating in Gods mission. Our city, the Gold Coast, is predicted to double in population from 600,000 in 2015 to 1.2 million in 2050 (Future Gold Coast Report). What a mission field right on our door step! So my imagination started to run
What would our church Newlife write to us from the future, from the year 2050? What would they say to us IF we chose today to live as Gods sent ones to risk the way of Jesus? What would they say if today we refused to settle, but live as sent? What would they say to us if we chose not to retreat into cosy, consumerist comfort, but instead decided to take up our cross and live as empowered disciples?
Here is what I hope they would say if indeed we chose to live as Jesus sent ones. Here is a letter from the future:
Dear Newlife AD2015,
Thank you that 35 years ago you decided to step up, not step back.
Thank you that 35 years ago you lived the truth that you were gathered to be sent; settled to be scattered.
Thank you that you decided to actively participate in the cause of the gospel rather that passively watch on as passengers carried along for the ride.
Thank you that you decided to carry the cross rather than retreat into cozy, consumerist comfort.
Thank you that you lived the vision, ‘More people, more like Jesus’.
We are your legacy, and the legacy of those who were before and behind you.
We are this is Newlife AD2050.
We are a church meeting in multiple locations in multiple languages – still spanning the generations.
We are a church that ranges from babies to retirees; from 0 to 120.
In 2015, 39 different birth nationalities gathered in your communities. Today, we are a family a multi colored tapestry of 100 birth nationalities.
Our Robina campus is still our spiritual base, and is packed across multiple celebrations every weekend. But it’s not where majority of our people gather. In fact, there are 20 times as many people worshipping under the Newlife banner or carrying Newlife DNA in other locations than at Robina. All because you decided to send, not settle.
Every year we are sending out multiple church planting teams and leaders to multiple cities to plant new communities and restart old ones. In fact, since 2015 the Uniting Church has not sold one property on the Gold Coast to a property developer. Rather, with other partners, you have ensured that through us every church property, the legacy of past generations, is a thriving mission outpost carrying the gospel to the 1.2 million Gold Coasters they surround.
Every year Newlife College is sending graduating leaders ready to be ordained by the Uniting Church and live out the mission ‘more people, more like Jesus’. Every year Newlife College is training and sending out worship pastors, youth pastors and children’s pastors. Newlife College is seasoning the Uniting Church with mission hearted, big vision leaders who believe with every fibre of their being that with God all things are possible
Every month we are sending out Acts 1:8 mission teams to our partners in Cambodia, Thailand, Bosnia, Solomon Islands and other parts of God’s world. We are still bearing witness to Jesus where he sends us.
Finally, every day – every single day – God is adding to our number those who are being saved. And heaven rejoices every day over each of those saved souls, as do we.
Newlife 2015 sisters and brothers, some things have not changed.
This is Newlife 2050:
We are one church, multiple locations and many gatherings through which the:
Homeless find a home
Lonely discover real friends
Addicted are liberated into recovery
Politicians hear the cry of the poor
Gold Coast is seasoned with justice, mercy, grace and love.
We are known more for our worship, our witness, our service than for the fact we have a big, red, LED Cross and a giant courtyard.
We are a messy, unrestrained, unconstrained, joy-filled, faith-inspired, Jesus-obsessed, Spirit-led people who believe with every fibre of our being that our God is:
strong and mighty, gentle and merciful, loving and gracious, faithful and true, and that in and through him all things are possible!
We are STILL one big, happy – sometimes dysfunctional – family.
We are Newlife 2050. This is our story. And our story is your story.
And so, dear Newlife 2015, we thank God with joy every time we remember you because of your partnership in the gospel. We are confident of this that he who began a good work in you is carrying it on to completion, through us and the generations that follow, until the day of Christ Jesus.
To God be the glory, forever and ever. Amen!