Director’s Message

Ray Jones portraitIn all my travels lately, I have had the cause of the gospel on my mind and in my heart. I continue to be reminded of Paul’s call to the early church in Philippi to work out their differences and to be of one mind for the cause of the gospel (Philippians 4:2–3). The cause of the gospel is the shalom of God. It’s a mindset of wholeness and well-being, justice and hope, salvation and healing. It’s the kingdom of God, and its direction is both vertical and horizontal. It’s a reconciling power that is for the flourishing of the world.

During a Vital Congregations gathering in Atlanta, I was reminded that we cannot truly flourish unless we enter deeply into the pain and loss of our lives. For churches this means to enter deeply into the pain and loss of the standing and membership that once belonged to the church. And it means dealing with the privilege that separated us from people in our communities from whom we were never meant to be separated. When we enter the pain of loss, we encounter God and God’s loving mission for our lives. We can move forward with love, energy and transformational power.

I have been blessed in my travels to be able to visit with my 97-year-old father-in-law. I have noticed a tremendous change in him. I have always loved him and counted him as a significant mentor. But losing his spouse four years ago to Alzheimer’s disease was devastating. However, as he has walked deeply into the pain, he has discovered anew God’s loving presence. What has emerged from him is an expansive faith and life in which all people are included. And where he tended to believe only what he could see, he now has stepped fully into the real, flourishing and lasting life in Christ.

I am grateful to partner with you in the cause of the gospel.

Grace,

Ray Jones
Acting Director
Theology, Formation & Evangelism