Commissioned for Work: Joseph Chang

Portraits of Grace is a snapshot into the lives of the people at King's Cross Church. As "kingdom minded, kingdom people," we recognize God's work in every detail of our lives. We invite you to meet the people of our church.


I grew up being told by people (who were miserable at their jobs), "just do something you love." I think a lot of us interpret this kind of advice to mean that our career, occupation, job (whatever we want to call it) has the ability to satisfy us and provide us with an identity. We also want our work to positively impact the world (even if we don't know what that means, exactly). Further, we're taught that there should always be a separation between church and state, or in this case, professional life. Somehow no-one tells you to bring faith into dialogue with work: the silence says a lot. In sum, we are always seeking for work to "work for us." 

Through the Theology of Work course, I've learned that work, even the insignificant and mundane aspects of our work, is significant to God. In our work, we are being called to co-create with Christ in establishing His kingdom right where we are, for example in our broken work environments. Even if we don't have our ideal, fulfilling "career job" in hand (I struggle with this a lot, I mean, I studied engineering and I feel like my mind is wasted in doing mostly manual labor in my lab), God still calls me to be an ambassador of Christ in all situations and, oddly, through heeding this call I end up participating in that world impacting work we all desire.   

My struggle with not having my "career job" has shown me that God is not most pleased with me when I finally land that job which gives me an identity. Instead, in the Gospel, He has given me a higher identity as His son and in this identify I find my way in following Jesus. 

For me, giving my work to the rule of Jesus means that I need to image Jesus in seeing others, including my co-workers, as fellow humans, as creations-in-the-image-of-God. In the current climate of my lab, that means taking a priestly role in interceding and mediating between people with years of bitterness toxifying their interactions and restoring those who've been persistently devalued.  

I've been told to always cultivate professional relationships into a network, and while I don't mean to downplay networking, in this calling as a son of God I've received a challenge to go beyond seeking my own good out of relationships. I am learning to not just help co-workers because, eventually, their work will become my work, but to genuinely support them as a friend so they can find rest, feel cared for as a human being, and have a voice.

People ask, "Do you find joy in what you do at work?" For a long while my response was no. But over time, as I began to understand my partnership with God in His redemptive story, I've come to see what I do at work differently. In accepting God's call for my current work, I can look upon the relationships I've developed at work over the past five years and find reason to rejoice because some of my co-workers are interested in a Gospel that puts our faith into actions. And I can rejoice because God has shown me the value and goodness of being a trustworthy friend, wherever my work takes me.

I don't have it all together, but just as baptism is an outward sign and seal of God undertaking an internal change, denoting a beginning of the Christian life, being commissioned to work is a beginning of further accountability and transformation in walking with Jesus where once I did not know he had a role to play and life to give.


New Vision and Core Values

I'm very excited to share our new vision and core values with you, for King's Cross Church. We felt the need to revamp and refocus our vision, after our initial first 5 years as a church plant, having now been established as a particular church in our Presbytery. 

My hope and prayer is that this vision statement and core values will serve our church in the specific and unique calling God has placed upon our growing church, here in Flushing. During our leaders' retreat, we mapped out some of how this would breath new life into how we think about discipleship ministry, community groups, membership classes and preaching. 

This Fall, I am setting aside a special period in our Sunday Sermon Series to focus on each of these values specifically. During the rest of this year, our elders and pastoral staff will be working hard with our leaders to integrate this into our leadership culture. 

I’d like to encourage you to read and understand the vision and values. Take a moment tonight to pray over our church with this vision--that this would unite our efforts to pursue kingdom life together. 

-Robert 


VISION STATEMENT

King’s Cross Church is
a community of broken people
following Jesus
in the story of how he is renewing
our neighborhood and our lives.

Broken people... following Jesus. 

We may rightly say that this is at the heart of what being a Christian is about. It's also at the heart of our vision statement. Our vision statement tells us not only who we are, but what we are striving together towards. Here's the breakdown of why every part of this matters to us:
 

A COMMUNITY. The concept of communal life of the church encompasses both our gathering to worship the Triune God both in formal [Sunday] worship and informal [community groups, praise and prayer nights, etc.] worship. It also encompasses our scattering, which takes our kingdom life outside the spaces we worship together in, and understands that the life of the church calls us to be faithfully present in all of life.

BROKEN PEOPLE. Jesus made it clear why he had come to live among us when he said, “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. I came not to call the righteous, but sinners” (Mark 2:17). By extension, we understand the Church exists to continue that same inviting call to broken sinners who are desperately in need of God’s reconciling grace. This means that we are not about becoming “better” people, but rather, people who rely on and are filled with the only one who was good, the Lord Jesus Christ.

FOLLOWING JESUS. We believe that spiritual growth happens when people simultaneously grasp the depth of their own brokenness and the height of God’s love and grace for them in Jesus. This is the re-creative power of the gospel: to turn us from our false-gods, and receive and embrace the incredible adoption we have, as God’s children and heirs of his kingdom. (Romans 8:16-17)

We also understand that following Jesus means we are free to pursue others good and wellbeing. Our lives take on the contours of his life as we grow in our relationship with him, which means we will be growing in a deeper desire and capacity to dwell with others, for the sake of pursuing their good and flourishing.

THE STORY OF HOW HE IS RENEWING OUR NEIGHBORHOOD AND OUR LIVES. The Gospel of Jesus Christ is literally the most beautiful and good news we could imagine; and like all news there is a story of how this news comes to us. Scripture tells us that we are caught up in the grand story of Creation, The Fall, Redemption, and Restoration.

Because of the fall, sin brought all of God’s good creation under what Ecclesiastes puts so well, “...there is nothing new under the sun.” We live in a world crying out in “sackcloth and ashes,”--biblical imagery of decay and corruption. The gospel is such good news because it tells us, upon the finished work of Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection--Jesus has begun to make “all things new,” in a world where sin has made all things old.

Therefore our role in the story is to live a missional life--It means we are seeking to see the kingdom of God changing and transforming our Flushing neighborhood, block by block, and our lives, day by day, as we dwell together.*


Core Values

Core values describe how we will embody our vision and help shape how we behave as a church.

REDISCOVERING THE GOSPEL | proclamation

The gospel message tells us that God so loved his fallen creation that he sent his one and only son, Jesus, to renew all things through his kingdom. We believe the gospel is not merely how we receive grace and pardon for our sins, but in fact, the gospel is at the heart of how we experience the love and person of Jesus. Through the gospel, we are drawn together as a family. It is in this life of the family that we most deeply experience the power of the gospel at work in our lives.

REDEFINING THE GOOD LIFE | transformation

As we experience the deep heart-work of being made more like Jesus, we are given new desires, new dreams, and a new heart. Our world is redefined by who God is and what he has done for us which gives a completely new way of seeing the things we get our deepest identity and meaning and purpose from.

REFLECTING OUR NEIGHBORS | incarnation

Jesus entered into our world and shared all of life with us. Therefore, we desire to live and dwell with others in the same way. This means we want to be so embedded in our neighborhood that it colors the way we worship and live. It also means that we worship and cultivate our faith in ways that are relevant and relatable to neighbors and non-christians.

REIMAGINING FLUSHING | restoration

We want to be able to reimagine Flushing in light of God’s story, understanding what peace and flourishing of God’s kingdom would look like, here on earth. This means we want to foster a genuine appreciation for the ways God is already at work in our neighborhood. It also means we are called to address the brokenness, injustice, and oppression through intercessory prayer, engaging in mercy, (meeting basic needs,) and doing justice, (generous sharing of our resources and voice for our others’ good.)

REPLICATING CHURCH | multiplication

Whether in discipleship relationships, community groups, or raising up leaders, we believe a sign of true growth and flourishing is through multiplying. This also applies to how we envision our church growing, as, we would rather grow outward, seeking to plant like-minded churches to further share the gospel with those yet unreached in our city.


*You might wonder how this could apply to those of us who live outside of Flushing? When we say, "the story of how he is renewing our neighborhood and our lives," we can embrace the fact that as a church, we have corporately been given a goal, a vision for the kingdom of God to further manifest itself in Flushing, and at the same time, recognize that God has given us individual callings--"our lives"--meaning, where we work, where we live, etc., we have individual callings to pursue the kingdom of God there, without denying our corporate calling, to love and serve Flushing's good, too. 


Rest

I’m tired.
I’m burnt out.
I need to take a break.

These are common refrains I hear every week as I live and serve in a busy city amongst people with even busier lives. Few of us can remember the last time we felt fully ourselves, constantly moving on to the next thing on our to-do list, endlessly multitasking and never being whole — never fully present. Maybe we’ve even defined ourselves by busyness or achievement, or prided ourselves in being informed and active about the world. Certainly much can be said about the busy pattern of our lives and hearts, but I’ll have to save that for another time.

Today I only want to address the specific concern of getting rest — real. deep. wholehearted. rest. Jesus promised such rest to his disciples in the presence of the Holy Spirit in John 14:27:

Peace [or wholehearted rest] I leave with you; my peace I give to you.
Not as the world gives do I give to you.

Why is the rest that Jesus promises so elusive to people in the church — especially among those who serve in the church? I believe the core of the problem, especially when it comes to living and practicing our faith or leading others in the faith, is that we confuse the rest that Christ offers with the rest the world offers. They are not the same and we sometimes fool ourselves thinking we can be wholly and spiritually rested and restored merely by getting physical rest.

I’m certainly not discounting physical rest. Some of us at least need physical rest because… well… we’re physically exhausted. I’m grateful that our church values rest enough to write it into the practices of our ministry philosophy, but sometimes we confuse sleep and not-having-anything-to-do with the wholehearted rest Jesus desires for us. If we are tired from serving in the church or find ourselves depleted from loving our friends and neighbors with the love of Christ, getting more sleep or freeing up our personal schedules and responsibilities will only get us part of the way toward restoration and renewal.

When I hear from tired people in the church, “I need a break,” my first reaction sounds like, “Of course! Rest is good and very much needed! But what are you going to do during this break?” In other words, “You currently feel spiritually exhausted and depleted. What will you do and practice to restore your spiritual strength?” We were not meant to live our Christian lives on a constant roller coaster of spiritual fullness and spiritual emptiness. We are not meant to serve with all our might until we feel dead inside then “take a break” only to start the cycle all over again. Yet that is what we often see in our lives! How can we live in such a way that gives us the endurance to live the life that Jesus calls us to live — one that fully practices love, service, and sacrifice yet also cultivating the shalom wholehearted rest he promises us through the Holy Spirit?

We can only live as God’s people if we remain tethered to the source of our spiritual strength. I know of two foundational practices that will root us in love: (1) being constant in prayer, and (2) meditating and engaging with scripture. Surely this is not everything; it seems so “basic”. But I know of no spiritual life apart from these life-giving practices.

If you are feeling empty, exhausted, tired — if you are “taking a break” — perhaps you will want to consider what kind of rest you really need. Don’t confuse the rest of this world for the rest that Christ gives us. Paul prayed for the church in the busy commercial center of Ephesus, saying,

For this reason I bow my knees before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth is named, that according to the riches of his glory he may grant you to be strengthened with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith—that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may have strength to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God. (Ephesians 3:14-19)

I extend that prayer for us in the church that having been running on the fumes of our last “break” to move us to drink from the fountain of life that flows with the riches of his glory. May his strength given to us through his spirit enable us to live lives that give the love of Christ physical dimensions — breadth and length and height and depth — in the way we embody his love to others in our life and service.


Faith @ Work 4/15 Gathering

On April 15th, the Faith & Work Ministry hosted its third Faith @ Work Gathering inviting church members from Living Faith Community Church and King’s Cross Church, regular attendees, friends, and family to join the conversation of Faith @ Work and answer some pressing questions: Why do we work? Can our respective industries be redeemed? What would work look like, in a biblical context? How do we apply biblical knowledge and help our industries thrive? What is a “calling”?

While work can be grueling and each field with its unique pain points, coming together to explore how work can be redemptive filled the room with hopefulness. There were dynamic and fruitful conversations taking place in every corner of the venue leading everyone to pray for one another and each other’s workplace. 

15 different fields of work, 21 groups, and 2 hours later, we walked away desiring to further this conversation of work and dedicate ourselves to the mission of being salt and light in our workplace and the world.

So where does this all lead? 

Ultimately, we are seeking to unlearn broken perceptions of work. We want to continue addressing questions about work and what God always intended it to be through classes the Faith & Work ministry offers, alongside with the continuation of regular large gatherings. With the understanding of the Great Commission - go and make disciples of all nations - it is our desire to see brothers and sisters empowered to go into the workplace, fully supported by the Church through a Commissioning by sending them into the workplace and homes with hope and encouragement.