"There are people who are willing to partner with us who would never join the church," says the pastor of one of America's historic congregations.
That realization has been "one of the real discoveries" of a new emphasis at First Baptist Church in Richmond, Va. Its senior pastor, Jim Somerville, talks about KOH2RVA – or "Kingdom of Heaven to Richmond, Virginia" – in a new Skype interview with EthicsDaily.com.
Skype Interview: Jim Somerville from EthicsDaily on Vimeo.
Somervillle says the church began "a year-long, every-member mission trip" on Sept. 9. When Somerville spoke to EthicsDaily.com, it was Day 65. Somerville has himself blogged about the mission almost every day.
Somerville talks in the interview not only about what KOH2RVA is, but also what it is not.
"It is not a veiled effort to get more people into our building at 11 on Sunday morning," he says, "and more money into our offering plates."
"We haven't started a contemporary worship service. We haven't sent out fliers to everybody in the community," says Somerville. "We're really trying to get our members out into the city of Richmond and beyond to make a difference."
Somerville cites the Lord's Prayer and specifically the line about God's will being done "on earth" – something too many Christians forget.
He also talks about Matthew 10 and the transformation of disciples into apostles, of learners into "sent ones."
Somerville gives some examples of how the church has moved into the community. Significantly, they include partnerships with other organizations and communities in areas of high crime and poverty.
"I'm getting more interested in partnership than in membership," says Somerville. "I'm finding that there are lots of people who are trying to bring heaven to earth in Richmond in lots of different ways."
Watch the interview with Somerville at vimeo.com/ethicsdaily/skype-jimsomerville
Learn more about KOH2RVA at fbcrichmond.org/KOH2RVA/index.htm
Visit Jim Somerville's blog at jimsomerville.wordpress.com
Watch other EthicsDaily.com Skype interviews at vimeo.com/ethicsdaily