Wednesday, October 30, 2013

The mission of God's people: becoming a blessing to the nations

The EMH theme for 2013-2014 comes from Christopher J. H. Wright’s book,
The Mission of God’s People: A Biblical Theology of the Church’s Mission. In Bible class and on the courses, the students are reading and discussing Wright’s ideas, particularly how those ideas fit within the context of their own stories.

EMH Director Ben Little explains: “We are looking at the calling of Abraham to be a blessing to all the nations. Our calling is to be a part of that. Part of our mission as God’s people is to be a blessing to the nations.”

God first asked Abraham to go. Abraham had to leave what was around him, the confusion and selfishness of a world that did not want to leave what was safe and comfortable.

Abraham had a choice. If he didn’t go as God asked him to, then he couldn’t be a blessing to the nations. “God told Abraham, ‘I will bless you and then you will be a blessing,’” says Mr. Little. “But he had to go.”

Abraham had to choose the blessing. He had to say “yes” to God.

In Genesis 18:19, God spoke about Abraham: “For I have chosen him, so that he will direct his children and his household after him to keep the way of the Lord by doing what is right and just, so that the Lord will bring about for Abraham what he has promised him.”

God said this of Abraham as he was preparing to judge Sodom and Gomorrah. He planted Abraham in the midst of evil in order to bring hope—to produce a group of communities that would keep the ways of the Lord. This was the picture of God’s hope for mankind, to raise up a righteous family who would confront evil and bring God’s blessing to the nations.

In the same way, we are Abraham’s spiritual descendants, part of this community of hope. We must choose to be part of God’s redemptive story. We must go out from our place in the sense that we do not follow the culture—we keep the way of the Lord.

“A corrupt church has nothing to offer a corrupt world,” says Mr. Little, quoting Wright. “An immoral church has nothing to offer an immoral world. Part of God’s mission for His people is to keep the way of the Lord. There can be no Biblical mission is if there are no Biblical ethics.”

These ideas have laid the foundation for the students’ discussions in class and on course. At the beginning of the school year, on the Sand Dunes Course, they discussed their roles as leaders in the school and their responsibility to set the tone for the year. What kind of culture did they want to create? How would they lead by example?

The students began by creating a list of goals for the year. They wrote out the list, and then each student signed it as an agreement to work together toward achieving those goals. Their list included the following expectations:

·      To keep a positive attitude, not creating a culture of complaining, even when expectations are not met.
·      To have real relationships. If people are struggling, be honest and share with each other. Even though we want a positive atmosphere, we don’t want fake faces. Talk out problems instead of masking them.
·      To create a culture of respect for each other, not putting down or talking bad about each other.
·      To enjoy each other. To find the fun moments and create memories within the school day and outside of school as well.

Throughout the first quarter, they have continued that discussion: What is God calling me to do? In my way of life, am I teaching people around me to keep the way of the Lord?

Mr. Little is excited about the ideas in the book and hopeful that future discussions will challenge the students to evaluate their lives. Part of the goal for the year is to build a community that will hold one another accountable to living out these ideas.

“I want students to see themselves as part of God’s story,” he says, “to embrace the mission and calling to go, to be a blessing to the nations.”

Ekklesia Mountain High is a boarding and day-student program for high school juniors and seniors at Darren Patterson Christian Academy, in which approximately forty days of wilderness experience and leadership training is integrated with rigorous academics in DPCA's Biblically-centered environment.  To learn more, please visit the school's website at, and the EMH program's website at

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