In Jeremiah 29, God’s people are exiled in enemy territory, in Babylon. Checking out and keeping to themselves would make sense. However, the Lord speaks to them through the prophet and says the following:
4 “Thus says the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel, to all the exiles whom I have sent into exile from Jerusalem to Babylon: 5 Build houses and live in them; plant gardens and eat their produce. 6 Take wives and have sons and daughters; take wives for your sons, and give your daughters in marriage, that they may bear sons and daughters; multiply there, and do not decrease. 7 But seek the welfare of the city where I have sent you into exile, and pray to the LORD on its behalf, for in its welfare you will find your welfare.
The Lord commands his people not to check out. He wants them to be “all in.” He certainly doesn’t want them to berate their enemies. He wants His people to plant roots and seek shalom. Shalom, the word for “welfare” in this passage, is a rich Hebrew term that refers to peace, wholeness, soundness, and healing. It’s a word that captures the reversal of the fall. It’s our hope in a new heavens and new earth. Yet it’s also something we can see glimpses of here and now. God’s kingdom has broken into this age. We can have foretastes of this future shalom. We can give signposts to others of what lies ahead.
Therefore, Karis Church has always been passionate about serving our city. We long to be a part of our community, seeking her welfare. This is why we serve in her schools, pick up trash, spend time with the elderly, and adopt children. This is why we seek to take part in civic events. It’s why we want to be in the thick of our city’s arts and culture scene. We want to be known as the best possible citizens. We desire to show how in Christ we can be truly human. We long to point to the city “whose designer and builder is God” (Heb. 11:10). As we long for a new heavens and new earth that will be filled with ethnic diversity, we labor toward racial reconciliation right here in our city.
For too long, Christians have hidden in a Christian subculture. We’ve stood at the outskirts of the city, heaping stones. We’ve built our own gyms. We’ve formed our own programs. We’ve not been a part of helping our city find solutions. We’ve not labored alongside our fellow citizens. We believe we present a more full-orbed gospel by resisting those tendencies. Throughout our history, Karis has always pursued worshipping and serving in Columbia’s center city. That continues to be our strong desire. We long to be “in the city” and “for the city.”
In addition, and more specifically, we've desired, from the very beginning when I first felt God's call back to Columbia, to be rooted in Columbia's downtown "District." For that reason, we're constantly praying about, and looking for, a long-term headquarters for worship and mission in downtown CoMo. Imagine a Sunday Gathering space, an art gallery and concert venue, a ministry to the homeless, and a gospel counseling center - all within the downtown footprint. We are so grateful for our Westside location. We want to be good neighbors while God has us there. Join us in praying that the Lord would provide that space for us downtown. Our vision is to be for the city and for the "District."