• Will Spink
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    Director, Children's Ministry
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    Assistant Director, Children's Ministry
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Pastor’s Note


The “Both-And” of Express Grace

When I was in high school, I traveled long distances for several mission trips. I remember how excited I was to share the good news of Jesus with people in places like Arizona, South Carolina, and even Sweden. I also remember sitting in a meeting with a team preparing for one of those trips and being convicted by the reality that I was much less excited about sharing the good news of Jesus with friends and neighbors in my hometown of Memphis, TN. Sometimes it’s just easier to live passionately for Christ for a week in a unique context than it is to live the same way day in and day out at home.

At Southwood our mission is to “experience and express grace.” We want to have the amazing grace we receive in Jesus Christ continually transform us and flow through us to many others. Often we think of expressing grace in terms of special efforts made to serve in a Jobs for Life class, to join a short-term mission team, or to donate gifts to a Christmas ministry. Often those types of efforts are easier than expressing grace in the relationships I already have, in the places I already live day in and day out.

To be clear, though, when we say “express grace,” we mean “both-and,” not “either-or.” Both at home and around the world. Both in word and in deed. Both through special efforts and through daily interactions. Expressing grace means the gospel changes both the way I love my wife and the way I spend my money. Expressing grace means the gospel changes both the way I serve my best friends and the way I serve the materially poor. Expressing grace means the gospel changes both the way I invest in my kids and the way I invest in the orphaned kids in Peru. The examples, of course, could multiply! Jesus, grace in a person, changes everything!

That’s the heart behind our decision to focus this year’s Express Grace Conference (more details inside this issue of BRANCHES!) on “Expressing Grace at Home.” For the past few years, we have focused on our local and global ministry partners and how the gospel compels us to mission beyond the walls of Southwood. This is a great focus, and we will do it again! The gospel, though, also compels us to mission within the walls of our homes, workplaces, and neighborhoods.

Sometimes I wonder if we tend to avoid the closer but more challenging gospel call, just as I was doing back in high school. Can I encourage you with something? If the grace of Jesus holds hope for the lost soul overseas, it also holds hope for your marriage. Can I challenge you with something? If the gospel calls you to offer true forgiveness or a warm meal to someone you’ve never met, it also calls you to offer true forgiveness or a warm engagement with your family and friends. Often that is the more challenging call, isn’t it?

I look forward to being with you for our “Expressing Grace at Home” weekend (January 14-15) and to the opportunity to introduce you to one of my seminary professors, Dr. Dan Zink, who will be our keynote speaker. We will also have the privilege of spending some time with some of our local counselors here in town, who partner with us in helping the gospel of grace impact our most intimate and most regular relationships.

One last note: While you can think of this conference in terms of a “marriage and family weekend,” we have intentionally designed it for the entire church and community—young and old, single and married, Southwood members and guests—everyone is welcome! Mark your calendars for Saturday night and Sunday morning, consider friends you may want to invite, and begin praying that God would work his grace deep into our hearts so that those closest to us can see and feel the difference Jesus makes in us!