“What does it look like for a church to be on mission?” This is the question Jerry Edmonson, Lead Pastor of The Fellowship at Cinco Ranch, is seeking to answer. For Pastor Jerry, it means not simply “doing church” but “being the Church” to the community.
For the past 13 years The Fellowship has been on the journey to “be the Church,” externally focusing their congregation. In 2005, the church started Compassion Katy, a non-profit organization that promotes “Christ-Centered Compassion in Action.” One of Compassion Katy’s most wide-reaching initiatives is Katy ServeFest, a united outreach effort among various churches in Katy. ServeFest coordinates volunteers to serve en masse on specific dates at designated locations throughout Katy. ServeFest 2014 saw 380 volunteers from 15 churches serving at five locations over three weekends.
[blockquote type=”center”]In order to become the functioning body of Christ, at home and in the world — each of us must be transformed from within. [/blockquote]
Being on mission and “being the Church” to a community can take many forms, but Pastor Jerry is certain of one thing—in order to be followers of Jesus who are living out the fast of Isaiah 58, becoming the functioning body of Christ locally and globally—each of us must be transformed from within. For The Fellowship, the process to that kind of transformation involves Faithwalking. Pastor Jerry has been a part of Faithwalking for several years. At his first 101 retreat several years ago, he was deeply challenged to see formation at the core of mission. Out of that conviction he registered for 201, an intensive 24–week personal transformation program. Participants in 201 commit to “playing full out,” meaning, completing the homework and making the necessary sacrifices to attend the requisite number of meetings. For Pastor Jerry, missing a few 201 meetings became a lesson in integrity. He did not play full out, and thus had to repeat 201. The second time around, he honored his word and completed the program. He learned the importance of giving one’s word to something and soon wanted to give his word to bigger things.
One of the big things Pastor Jerry and his church have given their word to is implementing Faithwalking to reach their entire congregation with the message of personal transformation leading to community transformation. The Fellowship at Cinco Ranch is, in fact, the largest church in Houston to adopt Faithwalking as their foundational spiritual formation process. Both Pastor Jerry and his wife, Gail, have participated in Faithwalking, and Pastor Jerry also serves as a Faithwalking presenter.
The commitment to Faithwalking trickles down through the leadership. At least 25 elders have attended a 101 retreat; almost all of them have also gone through 201, with a core group completing the Leadership Course. The church also hosted its own 101 retreat in Spanish, one of the first churches in Houston to do so. Recently the church organized its first church-wide Faithwalking 101 retreat and has plans for six more in 2014. They even anticipate a Portuguese 101 in the near future.
[blockquote cite=”St. Irenaeus” type=”center”]The glory of God is man fully alive.[/blockquote]
Another big thing The Fellowship has given their word to is seeking transformation outside of the church. To that end, they are currently partnering with Attack Poverty to launch a “Friends Initiative” within the under-resourced community of Sundown in Katy. “Friends of Sundown” is a ten-year commitment aiming to empower individuals to overcome generational poverty with the goal of seeing individuals, families and the Sundown community transformed.
Through Pastor Jerry’s leadership and involvement with Faithwalking, The Fellowship has actively embraced the principle that missional living begins with personal transformation. “Faithwalking is becoming part of our DNA,” Pastor Jerry says. The church’s theme for 2014 is “Transformed,” and to reinforce the point the church shares a video every week of a transformational conversation with someone who has been through Faithwalking. Each video tells the story of a life being transformed.[blockquote type=”left”]Through Faithwalking, The Fellowship is giving their people the tools and the understanding to participate in their formation in order to be on mission in Katy and beyond.[/blockquote]