Marc and Denise Atchley - October 2018
Missional is "ordinary people doing ordinary things with Gospel intentionality." - Giotis Kantartzis
Undeniably, it is the Holy Spirit who causes a person to be born again (Jn 3:3-8) ... who breathes life into dead bones (Ezek 37:1-14). And yet the Church is still given the mandate -- the Great Commission -- to go and make disciples of all the nations (Mt 28:19). We understand that our responsibility in God's redemptive plan is to faithfully proclaim the Gospel in word and in deed (Rom 10:14). We do this in the power of the Spirit (Rom 8-9) and leave the results to Him as well.
But what does it look like to make disciples in a post-Christian Europe .. and in an increasingly post-Christian America? What does this look like in Greece where the historic religious identity for over 90% of the country is Eastern Orthodox Christian, yet where many of those under the age of 30 today are agnostic or atheistic? What does it look like when evangelical Christianity is seen as a sect?
Certainly, the local church is at the heart of the effort (Eph 3:10). Being brought into the Body of Christ ideally means being brought into a local body of believers. But making disciples is not primarily about making our corporate worship and ministry programs more attractive to unbelievers and church shoppers ... despite the need to be warm, inviting and culturally sensitive. It's about disciples who have been ransomed by Jesus (1Pe 1:18) and who are being transformed into his likeness (2Co 3:18), going outside the church and bearing witness to this salvation to our friends and family, neighbors and colleagues in both word (1Pe 3:15) and good deeds (1Pe 2:12). It's about us being salt and light (Mt. 5:13-16) It's about us exuding the aroma of Christ (2Co 2:15-16). And surely, the more we taste, shine and smell like Jesus in our ordinary activities, the more our "attractional" corporate worship and ministry programs will be truly pleasing to the Lord. And new disciples will be baptized in the name of our Triune God and taught all that Jesus has commanded us.
We are missionary appointees with The Evangelical Alliance Mission (TEAM). TEAM's motto is "Go to the Nations. Be the body of Christ." During its near 130-year history, TEAM has emphasized church planting and it continues to "partner with churches to send missionaries and establish reproducing churches among the nations, to the glory of God." Yet more recently TEAM has also identified several opportunities to accomplish its purpose while meeting the challenges of a rapidly changing global environment. One of these opportunities lies in developing ministries in and through the marketplace.
Perhaps in any society, but especially in those where so many are skeptical or even hostile to biblical Christianity, we shouldn't wait for lost sheep to find their way into our congregations. It's our responsibility to go find them (Lk 19:10) And since the marketplace is where we spend the majority of our time (working, studying, shopping, recreating, etc.) and is where we are most likely to connect with unbelievers, it's the most natural venue to search for those lost sheep that God is calling to Himself.
Go. Be. God has called us to go to Greece and make disciples. And the vision He has given us is to establish a missional coffeehouse -- a marketplace ministry that will be a natural draw for both believers and unbelievers. Operating a business not only establishes legitimacy and credibility in the community, it provides countless opportunities to establish vital and natural relationships with unbelievers. And perhaps more than in any other business, the coffeehouse culture invites conversation. It is, by design, a gathering place where relationships flourish. By God's grace, we will create this space in the marketplace where the lost will come to us!
But we can't do it alone (and even if we could, it doesn't seem to be the way God has designed things to work). We need partners who will commit to support us financially through TEAM so that we can get to Greece, begin acclimating to the language and culture, and work with local church leadership to identify the most strategic location for this ministry. We need partners who will commit to invest in the business once we have finalized the plan. Most importantly we need partners who will commit to pray for us (that God will continue His sanctifying work in us and will use these jars of clay to faithfully share the treasure of the Gospel with those who desperately need to hear it) and for Greece (that God will send the Holy Spirit to stir a Great Awakening within the people).
Greek School 2018-2019
Early September marked the return to Greek school at St. George Greek Orthodox Church (Knoxville, TN). Our family has taken language classes here for the past two years, and the kids have made noticeable progress ... the parents not so much. But as we've developed friendships with Greeks (both here and in Greece) our motivation to learn the language more quickly has heightened. Please pray for God's help!
Greek Fest (September 28-30)
Even before the call to Greece became evident, one of the highlights of our calendar was the annual Greek Festival at St. George. And being part of Greek School has opened a door into the Greek-American community which makes this festival even more special. We love the friendships God has given us!
Marc and Denise Atchley - TEAM Greece