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Director’s Message


Ray Jones portraitDear Friends and Colleagues,

I have prayed for the church throughout my entire ministry. I have experienced the church as a source of beauty, grace, and justice. However, I have also experienced the church to be a breeding ground of division and individualism. The church is a beautiful and difficult context in which to grow, live, and serve. The church is our home, but we find ourselves in a steady decline.

The church is struggling with its nature and purpose. Amid this struggle for purpose and meaning, we desperately seek instant solutions to ease our anxiety and remedy our decline. Even though this longing for an immediate fix is prevalent in our culture, deep down in our souls, we know that the decline of the church can’t be solved quickly. The work ahead requires time, prayer, and full awareness that the church does not belong to us. It never has. The church is not about having a place where our needs are met, but the body of Christ belongs to God and God’s purposes of love, justice, and hope for the world. In this context of God’s sovereign love, we grow into communities that care deeply about the condition of the people around us.
The good news for our present state is that the Holy Spirit is moving mightily; we have one another, and we already know in our hearts that the only way forward for the church is the way of Jesus Christ. When I think of Jesus, one passage often comes into my heart: Matthew 9:35-38.

Then Jesus went about all the cities and villages, teaching in their synagogues and proclaiming the good news of the kingdom and curing every disease and every sickness. When he saw the crowds, he had compassion for them because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. Then he said to his disciples, “The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few;  therefore ask the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest.”

We are called to go where Jesus goes. And the going always requires forming. There is an intimate connection between forming and going, between contemplation and action. We are called to form one another for God’s work in our communities. Christian formation always serves the purpose of equipping one another for God’s work in the world.

Jesus looked out over the crowds, and he had compassion for harassed and helpless people. There are harassed and helpless people all around us. As we engage in God’s ministry, we will join with others, listen, learn, and work together by the power of the Holy Spirit to bring down systems that oppress, hurt, and destroy the lives of people created and loved by God. At the core of the Greek word for compassion is the notion of “a breaking heart.” And here is what I have experienced in ministry: our hearts will not break if we stay inside our churches. But when we go out into the community around us, our hearts begin to break over what’s happening in the lives of people just outside our church doors.

I pray that we will go and that our hearts will continue to break over the conditions and lives of the people around us. I pray that we will continue to form one another in the way of Jesus.

In closing, I share a ministry resource document from Theology, Formation & Evangelism. May God’s love and grace continue to support you and give you courage and strength for the journey.




Ray Jones signature

Ray G Jones
Theology, Formation & Evangelism