HMC E-Newsletter April 19 2012 Missional Living Edition!!

Potluck Sunday!!
Remember to bring your tableware (plates, silver, cups) with you!!

Testimony of Faith and Mission from one of us
It was my privilege to attend a workshop on Monday on FaithWalking.  We were challenged to understand what it means to be fully human from Jesus’ teaching and to work for transformation that results in a life of service and loving.  That includes caring for others, taking personal responsibility for “the condition of the land “, and using all of our possessions to extend the Kingdom of God.  We were also asked to confront the reality of how easy it is to be disobedient and that we need to work toward “radical obedience to all the teachings of Jesus that leads to living a missional life”.   I sat at a table with folks I did not know, and found it so interesting to hear about how their churches operate and how God is working in their lives.  The Holy Spirit guided us in our conversations and interactions,and it was an honor to be with people who are eager to learn about  ways to become more Christ-like.  I am grateful for the insights I gained that day, and I am eagerly anticipating more
experiences in walking in faith.

Connecting More Fully at HMC:
►Prayer with your church family! Here’s an Easter Prayer Practice (with a scripture to memorize) on our church worship tab! Here: When you’ve memorized the text, let Marty know and we’ll have you recite it in worship!
Care Packages for Young Adults DUE SUNDAY: Send a little care to our young adults and college students this spring by bringing notes, Bible verses, cards and gift cards (anything that will fit in a large community envelope)
Special Guest in Adult Sunday School: Pastor Alan Stucky of Pleasant Valley Mennonite Church (KS), and board member of Mennonite Central Committee will be at church at 9:30AM to lead an exercise and discussion on MCC’s new campaign, “Fear Not-Seek Peace.” MCC is inviting all of us to participate in a postcard campaign, which you’ll hear more about in worship as well. You can learn more about Fear Not- Seek peace, here:
Baptism Class starts on Sunday!! A catechism class for those interested or exploring baptism and/or your faith in a deeper way begins Sunday. We’ll meet in the Annex youth room.
FOOD NOT BOMBS UPDATE I have had ongoing requests for blankets, sleeping bags, backpacks and
toiletries for those folks who come four nights a week to share food at the downtown library.  Used items are very acceptable, so clean out closets, the garage, etc, and donate to some very needy folks.  There are also petitions to
sign if you would like to protest the ordinance that passed which will require everyone to register who desires to share or serve food.  20,000 signatures are needed within 30 days for it to be placed on the ballot at the next election.  After July 1, when the new law goes into effect, we can be ticketed and fined $500.  Please help us protest this unfair law which will criminalize volunteers.  If you have any questions or concern, please see Marty or Judy
►SACK LUNCHES There will be items available after church to make sack lunches that can be given to hungry folks.  If you are able to stay and assemble these bags, we can distribute them to people who would like to carry them in their cars to give out.  This is a much better way to help than giving cash.
►Yes, Houston Mennonite Church is now on Facebook!
Please Like us and spread the word that this page exists. Pictures from Easter Sunday, links, friends, oh my! So much to see, so much to do.
Unexpected News: Reading the Bible Through Third World Eyes discussion group Sunday’s at 9:30AM all welcome.
Ten Thousand Villages Sunday is now April 29 (Note date change). Volunteer, shop, support fair trade!

►Women’s Retreat: April 27-29 at the Blackwood Educational Land Institute near Waller, TX. Please see Gloria Wilson, Denise Duff, or Lynda Voran for more information.
Looking for an outreach and networking opportunity with like-minded folks? Mark your calendars for the ANNUAL PEACE POTLUCK now! Thanks to Ken Jones and Jane Collins, we have the place and time all set: Emerson Unitarian Universalist, 900 Bering Drive, Houston, Texas, 77057. For years, HMC has seen ourselves as having one key “target audience” in Houston: the peace community.            If that’s still something we value, this event is a safe, friendly, (essential, necessary but not sufficient) event for us all to attend.

Commissioned for Mission in Houston because Jesus is Risen.
By Marty Troyer
The classic mental model of a ‘missionary’ is someone specially tasked with a special ministry for a special location. Missionaries are different than us, do different things, and do them out there somewhere, somewhere exotic and dangerous, a place of sacrifice.

That left those of us “normal” Christians at home to live “normal” lives and do “normal” things; like work, and play, and earn money to support the “special” missionaries. The definition of being a Christian in this mental model is to be a faithful church member.

What is a Church member mentality? Compartmentalized life: sacred over here, secular over here. 60 hours of work, plus a couple hours of “church” work. The church is a purveyor of religious goods and services, and if you aren’t on staff, you are a consumer of those goods. And we compete with other churches for the same “market share,” like barkers on the mall calling people to come play our game!

Somewhere along the way the church in the west stopped asking, “How do you make disciples of Jesus.” And we started asking, “How do you make a good church member.” Jim Herrington, the founder and leader of Mission Houston said, “I was a church member, and I was making church members.” A few select folks rise above and give their lives to “full time Christian ministry,” further serving to isolate “normal” Christians from ministry and discipleship.

But is that mental model faithful to Scripture? Is it faithful to Jesus’ call for us to be his followers in daily life? Is it Anabaptist in anyway shape of form?

John Bisagno, long time pastor of Houston’s First Baptist Church (20,000 members) said upon his retirement, “For 20 years we have built a great church. But during that same time the city of Houston declined. Were we really doing what God wanted?” What if forming good church members isn’t the point of Christianity anyway?

What if Christ calls us to Actually impact the world in which we live. What if Christ considers us to be on mission right here in Houston, where we live, work, and play?

According to the most recent, faithful definition of what it means to be a Mennonite Christian, being and becoming misisonal disciples of Christ is precisely who we are called to be. In “The Purposeful Plan,” we are learning to say discipleship means ,“Joining in God’s activity in the world, we develop and nurture missional Mennonite congregations of many cultures.”

Where does this firm belief come from? The Purposeful Plan goes on to say, “We believe that our purpose as a church is derived from the very nature of the triune God. God the Father sent the Son—Jesus into the world. Together, the Father and the Son sent the Spirit. Now, the triune God sends the church into the world to reconcile and restore it in relationship to God’s good purposes. This is the basis for God’s call.”

In recent months your church leadership has been exploring more deeply the intersection of mission and identity for us as a congregation. We spent several months in late 2011 digging into The Purposeful Plan, which we invite you to read here: On Monday 5 of your church leaders took a day of work off to dedicate to a Retreat with other congregations in Houston to explore how they as individuals and we as a congregation can be transformed. Judy H. shared her testimony to that retreat above. And you might also remember that, due to conversations surrounding Campus Development, we’ve heard loud and clear that we need to firmly embrace a shared and compelling identity and mission for ourselves.

Thus, on February 9th and 12th the CDT said the following, “We are aware of growing desire for a parallel discernment process regarding the Mission and Identity of Houston Mennonite Church. A conversation such as this gets at the core of who we are, and is directly related to our location and campus. Our location will shape our identity, and our identity needs to shape our location. Thus, should the proposal pass, it is our recommendation that we as a faith family catalyze energy into simultaneously discerning our location, as well as our mission and identity.”

We have been, are, and will continue to do just that! And we invite you to join us. There are several key links below we’d love for you to explore, a 2 minute video outlining the basic theology of being “missional”; The Purposeful Plan itself; and a link to a new Houston Initiative we are discerning participation in (with more info on the retreat 5 of us attended Monday). On May 19 our church council is taking an entire day for a retreat wrapped around this theme of identity and mission. And following that will be some significant entry points for you to enter the conversation with us.

However, you need not wait! You can pause and pray for this process right now. Seriously, you’re not that busy. Pause, and ask God to remind us all that “we are dead to sin and able to live for the glory of God (Romans 6:11).” Also, our worship services are designed each Sunday morning to commission you to be on mission in Houston. Other than the obvious places you might see “missional content” such as sermons, we also receive an offering each and every Sunday, which invites us to participate in what God is up to in the world. By all means, participate! Sharing time each week we are encouraged to share more than simply our medical maladies, but to share something that builds up the body of Christ or reflects on your own ministry. By all means, participate! And perhaps most significantly, we have drastically re-organized our worship services over the last year to “beef up” our sending section. We now commission you each and every week to be on mission where you live, work and play in 3 ways (watch for them Sunday): with a Sending Text of Scripture, a sending song, and a Commissioning for ministry where we lay hands on one another and commission each other to be on mission (exactly as we’ve done for missionaries for decades!).

Why do we do this? Because we are the sent ones of God! We are specially tasked for special ministry in a special location: Houston! We are on mission with God, continuing Jesus’ ministry in Houston. That’s what missional discipleship is all about. This is our faith. This is our hope.

Houston Mennonite Church, the Spirit of God who raised Jesus from the dead lives in you! Consider yourselves dead to sin, free and able to live for the glory of God through Christ Jesus! Jesus Christ is risen! It’s up to you to decide, Now what?”

Building up the Body of Christ: Links to Form Faith.

  1. Missional Church: an excellent 2 minute intro video to the “Missional Church.”
  2. What’s a Mennonite Anyway? Purposeful Plan: The most up-to-date definition of a Mennonite today is someone committed to being and becoming a missional disciple of Christ. Read this 23 page doc to come up to speed on the Mennonite Purposeful Plan for living into God’s dreams:
  3. The Healthy Congregations Learning Initiative: We are deeply exploring covenanting with 20 area churches over the next couple years to deepen our discipleship to Christ and our capacity to disciple new members at HMC. Here’s a blur on what the Initiative is about:

 Jesus is risen… now what?
Worship April 22, 2012

Does the resurrection matter for daily life? What does it mean that Jesus – executed now risen – is present with us today? Join us next Sunday as we enter the book of Acts for inspiration on walking in the resurrection! Paul says in Romans, “the same Spirit of God who raised Jesus from the dead lives in you! Consider yourselves dead to sin, able to live for the glory of God through Christ Jesus!” More than a historical fact, the resurrection of Christ empowers each of us to live the abundant life God intends.

Check out the Prayer Practice on our church worship tab! Here:


*Song of Praise Christ’s is the world  Sj #62
*Scripture                                Acts 3:1-10
*Song    Jesus Christ is waiting SJ #30
Confession Prayer,  SJ #128


Scripture                                  Acts 3:11-19
Children’s Message
Sharing        What do you bring to build up the Body of Christ, and how can we build you up?
Prayer                          Please feel free to light a candle prayer at this time
Scripture Reading                    Luke 24: 44-49
Sermon                        Holistic witness in the name of Christ

Song of Ministry Here I am, Lord  HWB #395
Commitment to Ministry  HWB #751
Offering and Meditation          How are you called to join God’s mission by giving your time, talents and treasure?

Connecting More Fully
Sending text                             Romans 6: 1-11 (bulletin insert)
*Sending Song How can we keep silent SJ #62
*Commissioning to be on Mission in Houston

Christian Formation Options at HMC:
Join us each Sunday morning at 9:30AM!
Unexpected News: Read the Bible through Third World Eyes, by Robert McAffee Brown as our guide.
►Junior High/High School Youth:  with Lynda and Roxie
, in the Annex.
** Children’s Church:  During worship in our children’s ministry room for kids
aged 1-5. They learn a Bible story, sing, and play together.

Pastoral Care
Do you want a person to talk with about something in your life? Got a question or insight into faith or scripture you want to kick around? Have you been sitting on a great idea for the church? Need prayer? Want to get to know your pastor better? As your pastor, I’m available to meet with you at the office or at a time and spot that works better for you. Just let me know when and where! Monday’s through Thursdays, and weekends by appointment. Marty Troyer, church office (713)464-4865,, also available on Facebook.

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