The Simplicity of the Gospel
- John Cowherd |
- Jun 26, 2012
- | Series: Stories
God’s work in my life really doesn’t make any sense. How does a country boy from small town Kentucky end up living in downtown Memphis and doing ministry in one of the poorest neighborhoods in the country?
I grew up on a farm in a place called Pleasant Valley - yes, Pleasant Valley. Growing up in church, I came to know Christ when I was six years old. I was involved in church, however, I wasn’t really growing in my walk with Christ. I thought following Jesus meant “being good” and going to church.
That all changed when I went to college and met some people who were truly following Jesus. I began to see that I was missing something, that they had something I wanted. They had a relationship, not just religion. As they began to teach me what they knew about following Christ, I got my first taste of discipleship. My world was forever changed. I wanted to follow Jesus.
I signed up for summer missions after my sophomore year. I kind of liked it, so I signed up again the next summer. For some reason, I checked the inner-city ministry box, and ended up in Albuquerque, New Mexico. Once again, my world was forever changed. I met a man who did ministry with the least of these: homeless, prostitutes, gang members, and children in poverty. He discipled me in ministry. He taught me how to serve and love and how to share Jesus and make disciples of those who many would look down upon or ignore.
After a spring break mission trip to inner-city Memphis, I knew this was where God wanted me to be. So after college, I moved here to do ministry in South Memphis, a rough neighborhood with many needs. My first six years, I ministered at a small, inner-city church. I wanted our church to be prepared to meet every need we might encounter, but I soon learned that creating programs to meet all those needs was way too complicated. We were doing many things, but not doing them well. God taught me the beauty of simplicity in ministering to others.
I was very encouraged by the message Simple Church. Pastor Loritts summed up what God has been teaching me throughout my life: evangelism, discipleship, and serving the least of these. By His grace, it has been the theme for my life and I pray it will be my theme moving forward. I’m grateful that God has brought me to a church that embraces the simplicity of the Gospel.