A Texas-sized Restoration movement targets the world
Rosario – A Restoration Movement from Highland Church on Vimeo.
Blogging live from Abilene, Texas
A church which pitches its tent without constantly looking for new horizons, which does not continually strike camp, is being untrue to its calling … We must play down our longing for certainty, accept what is risky, live by improvisation and experiment.
That’s a quote from Swiss theologian Hans Küng, and its part of the philosophy behind a “new” Restoration movement here in West Texas — specifically, among members of the Highland Church of Christ.
I’m in Abilene to meet with Christians who have dedicated their time and resources to working with refugees from around the world. More on that in a future post.
I stopped by the Highland church’s offices to meet with one of the elders, David Wray, and executive minister Ben Siburt about the 1,900-member congregation’s desire to restore itself, to restore Abilene and to restore the world.
(The church’s preaching minister, Jonathan Storment, and I started talking about this last year in between flights headed home from Nepal, where we got a firsthand look at the work of Abilene-based nonprofit Eternal Threads. See our report on that ministry’s efforts to fight human trafficking.)
The Highland church launched a website, A Restoration Movement, to share its goals and dreams.
The congregation has committed about $3.5 million to the cause. Some of that will go toward debt reduction and improvement of the church’s facilities. That’s part of the “Restoring Higland” goal, Siburt said. But the church also seeks to “improve the way we connect people to community.”
“We believe that all of us who share life in Christ at Highland are people in need of restoration,” he said.
Wray said the church also is striving to expand its vision from being “mission-minded” — sending out workers to spread the Gospel, to being “missional” — leaving the confines of the church building and engaging the community.
“Our prayerful intent is to eliminate homelessness in Abilene,” Wray wrote on the website. “Research indicates that when homeless men and women acquire a place to live, many of the other challenges in their lives are systemically addressed. Using a ‘housing first model,’ we desire that every homeless person in Abilene has a safe and adequate place to live.”
FaithWorks of Abilene, supported by the Highland church, also factors into that local vision, as featured in the above video. (See our recent coverage of church-supported employment ministries including FaithWorks.)
In “Restoring the World,” children’s minister Suzetta Nutt writes about spreading the Gospel internationally through efforts including clean water initiatives and micro-financing. She mentions Liam’s Wells, an effort supported by church members and sparked by a 7-year-old who raised awareness (and funds) to bring clean water to Africa as he battled leukemia, which claimed his life last year. (See our 2012 coverage of Liam’s legacy.)
Other Churches of Christ across the nation are getting involved in the work of restoration. Watch for updates.
Has your congregation cast a vision to restore its community and beyond? Please share the details.