Dear family and friends:
As a dear friend recently told me, “you can’t love Christ without loving the church.” It is still true, even in this day and age of “mere” Christianity, “simple church,” and “Jesus without religion.” I’m not disparaging any of the books that go by those names, but the titles themselves demonstrate the discomfort our age has with traditional Christianity, don’t they? Yet biblically, it is a new believer’s responsibility to declare his allegiance to Christ and to identify with a specific local expression of his Body.
The “gifts” Jesus gave after his ascension were “for the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ.” (Ephesians 4:8-12) Spiritual gifts are not for the individual, but the gifted individual is for the church. Good stewards, 1 Peter 4:10 says, serve one another with their gifts. (By implication, it is bad stewardship to withhold this service from your local body!)
All of this is why Cindy and I are so involved in our local church, the Connection Church of St. Cloud, FL, where I’m a “Foundation Pastor,” leading one of about 12 “Foundation Crew” home churches. We believe that to love God, we must love what he loves. And he loves the church and gave himself for her. (Ephesians 5:25)
This is also why I’m so excited about news of progress on connecting people to churches worldwide. To be perfectly honest, this hasn’t been our ministry’s strong point. Evangelism has.
The Internet is such an ideal vehicle for broadcasting a message; but connecting the recipients to localized resources isn’t as obvious a use for the network. In a way, we’ve been doing that for years, in the form of assigning individual volunteers to seekers. There just hasn’t been an easy way to direct them to churches in their own area.
The reasons are many: they may come from countries where Christianity isn’t as well-established as here; it may be hard to find sound churches in an area; pairing up volunteers in an area with contacts in the same area poses challenges in both logistics and security…
…and the connection of churches to each other has lagged a bit. For example, we only know of one movement, Calvary Chapel, which has a unified worldwide database where we can locate churches for seekers; and as soon as we moved to Florida, I urged our response team to make it available to our volunteers. There are numerous databases of churches for North America; and like most staff members, I personally know about many great churches in multiple U.S. states. Some even invest in our ministry financially, some are churches our ministry partners attend. But we usually learn about churches in other countries on a case-by-case basis.
Cindy and I discovered the Calvary Chapel movement through their radio teaching shortly after moving to California. I even attended one of their Bible College extensions. They now have over 1,000 congregations worldwide, with an emphasis on systematically teaching the entire Bible. This makes me comfortable directing a new believer to a Calvary Chapel-affiliated church.
Increasingly, these churches have been getting excited about Global Media Outreach, too, helping with expenses and volunteers with robust Biblical understanding and a heart for souls. It really gives us confidence that God answering some ongoing prayers in his own timing.
Ideally, these volunteers will be able to direct contacts to their own vibrant local churches where they’ll be taught the whole counsel of God. The more massive our outreach becomes, the more “little children” (Galatians 4:19/1 John 2:1) we have responsibility to provide with guidance.
To demonstrate the scope of this, May was the biggest month ever for our ministry, with 13 million visitors, 1.5 million indicated decisions for Christ, and over 249,000 e-mails. In one month.
(It’s also a big month for the Skinner family! Emily, our oldest, turned 11 on May 3, 2010. May 8th was our 17th wedding anniversary. With Mother’s Day on May 9th.)
Please pray for us to continue to find ways to partner with sound churches worldwide! Some recent responses:
“thank you for the past emails, they have changed me to christian belief...” —T, Massachusetts
“I love this program it can make me change in my life from the darkness....” —M, Philippines
“Hi, thank you for introducing me to ‘Spirit filled life’” —S., Chicago
Love, in Christ
P.S. Please see our latest photos!
Mike and Cindy Skinner
“One day closer!” (Romans 13:11)