My life with Jesus began with what I describe as God’s drip on my life through people like friends and family demonstrating the grace of God to me. The first Christians I met where in my immediate community, whether it was family, high school, or most notably work. The first time I went to church as an adult was with people I knew from work—I don’t even know if we were friends yet. It was a long time until I understood the songs, even longer till I “got” anything out of the sermons (through no fault of the preachers or the church).
January 1, 2006, was when I felt God’s holiness overwhelm me. The pastor talked about new years and new beginnings. That day I saw my life in light of God’s glory, seeing that he deserved worship and praise. Up till this point, I was merely a moral person and a cultural Christian, learning who Christians were and what they did outwardly. But it was this moment that God revealed himself to me. He has been so gracious to continue this work in me to refine not only who I am but who I am in Christ. This was not the end of sin in my life but the beginning of new desires for holiness.
From Consumer to Servant
After reading Pastor Mark’s Radical Reformission at a mall in California and applying at Seattle Pacific University in 2007, I moved to Seattle and again started only attending Mars Hill, thinking that I was a college kid and did not have much of anything to offer. In the past I was known at a lot of churches, but not known by a church. So I kept my time, talent, and treasure to myself. Sure, I attended and worshiped with God’s people, but I consumed much of the leaders’ and members’ resources. I’m convicted hearing now that those years were an especially hard time for our church, and they could have used my support and service. The church, as always, needs the people Jesus has created and called to be a part of the body.
Finally, in 2008 I became an intern. Through my internship, I started attending a Community Group, and eventually, with the help of some deacons who are now pastors, started a Community Group in Queen Anne. After a second internship, I came on staff. Since then I have become a Community Group coach, coaching other Community Group leaders. Through all of this, I see that God led me through steps and “life” lessons, slowly expanding the things he trusts me with.
“For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.” Ephesians 2:10
I became an deacon because I believe that God has work and he asks for witnesses. I’m continually learning that our witness is to God’s goodness, not ours, God’s grace, not ours, and God’s mission and goals, not ours. And when we lay aside our own aspirations and intentions and pick up his, we leave on the ground our fears and anxieties. Our faith is then in God and his plans, and we know he finishes his work. I believe that God created us for good works, that he gave us our lives and asks us to steward the time and talent we have for his mission, and there are times he honors our work by blessing us with more.
Minister Where You Are
God does this by asking for who we are and not what we do for him. God calls us to minister where we are, in whatever we might do. I started going to church because two of my good friends invited me. I got saved when I went to church with them. My faith grew as I was in community and talked with them and other church leaders. Scripture says that we are all ministers of reconciliation and the church and its leaders are to equip that ministry. I serve to be a part of that.
The call to discipleship is a call to make more disciples, and for members to “make” more members and for deacons to develop more deacons. I assume pastorship is similar but I’ll leave that to an elder to speak to that. We need to have a higher calling for people than they have for themselves. We can’t call people to ourselves—we call them to Jesus. Ask them what they think he is saying to them through scripture and community. What Jesus wants for their life is far better and far bigger than anything you or they will come up with on their own. As Pastor Nick Bogardus has said, “When you know who you are, you know what to do.”
To the current deacons, please be encouraged and reminded of when and why Jesus has called you for his service.
“And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up. So then, as we have opportunity, let us do good to everyone, and especially to those who are of the household of the faith.” Galatians 6:9–10
Interested in pursuing deaconship at Mars Hill? Talk with a leader at your local church.
Joel Cummings, above at right, is a deacon at the Ballard church and an operations manager in the Media & Communications department.