• Will Spink
    Senior Pastor
  • Wyketa Shipman
    Executive Assistant
  • Ron Clegg
    Associate Pastor, Discipleship
  • Shannon Clark
    Administrative Assistant
  • James Parker
    Chief Musician
  • Peter Render
    Assistant Pastor, Youth/Families
  • Christine Betts
    Assistant Director, Youth/Families
  • Ty Commons
    Youth & Families Intern
  • Kim Delchamps
    Administrative Assistant
  • Derrick Harris
    Assistant Pastor, Shepherding & Young Families
  • Angela Sierk
    Director, Children's Ministry
  • Niña Banta Cash
    Director, Nursery
  • Robert Blevins
    Director, Community Development
  • Janice Crowson
    Director, Facilities/Finance
  • Daniel Brown
    Print & Digital Media Specialist
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Core Commitments: The Least, Lost, Littlest, Lonely, and Left-Out

Core Commitments: The Least, Lost, Littlest, Lonely, and Left-Out

We strive to love the least, the lost, the littlest, the lonely, and the left-out.

Because we are aware of our own weaknesses and dependence upon God, we want to introduce fellow sinners to the Great Physician, in whom the broken and hurting find refuge and a home. This happens as we lead with grace rather than judgment in all our relationships, just as God has led with grace toward us when we deserved his judgment. We desire to express grace to the marginalized, the hurting, and our non-Christian friends and neighbors by treating people of all backgrounds and life experiences, as image-bearers of God, with dignity and charity. – Luke 6:27-36, Matthew 25:31-40, Mark 2:15-17, Proverbs 14:31, Genesis 1:26-27, John 15:12-13

When you gather a group of people together, it is easy and often natural to function like a club whose primary focus is to serve the desires and preferences of its members. Jesus, however, establishes quite a different charter for his Church when he calls us to share the good news of salvation with all nations, to love our neighbors and enemies, and to follow him on a mission to “seek and save the lost” like a doctor looking for sick people, not healthy ones, to bless. Dietrich Bonhoeffer expressed this in his Letters and Papers from Prison when he wrote, “The Church is the church only when it exists for others.”

So we see in the gospels all sorts of people attracted to Jesus – the poor, pagans, prostitutes, and others – and we also see Jesus treat them with respect, compassion, and deep love. Sometimes he has to say hard things, but always he leads with grace. And this is the way all of us at Southwood have experienced the love of God toward us. We were lost, least, and left-out apart from Christ when God moved toward us to welcome us into his family. How could we not continue seeking out others just like us who need a safe place to be needy?

That’s exactly what I’ve witnessed at Southwood over the past several years: people whose lives have been shipwrecked spiritually, sexually, mentally, materially, and many other ways finding a place of refuge and healing in our community. No matter what experiences or life struggles people have endured, they bear the image of God and are no more needy of his grace than the senior pastor (no less needy either!). So, we welcome all such people into the hospital we call “Southwood” and help them get to know the Great Physician who heals all of our various diseases.

But to be the Church Jesus has called us to be, we must be committed not merely to receiving the least of these when they show up in our building but rather actively and sacrificially to prioritize them in everything we do. A “church-wide event” that considers the desires of only the initiated and well connected is falling way short of the mission God has given to Southwood. A small group that is mindful of the needs only of “successful” church people like themselves is missing the full heart of God for them. A church budget that caters to those likely to give more money is dangerously close to being a “club budget” rather than a church budget serving the kingdom of Jesus.

So, who do you know who could be included in these “L” categories? The Least may be materially poor, voiceless, or powerless. The Lost may be neighbors near or far who don’t know Jesus or even claim to follow his commands. The Littlest may be in the nursery, in the womb, or in your Sunday School class. The Lonely may be widowed, new to town, or suffering deeply. The Left-out may be disconnected, difficult to talk with, or so broken by sin and shame that they can’t move toward anyone. Now let’s move toward all of them with the love God has carried toward all of us.