Recently I introduced myself to a pastor I hadn't yet had the privilege of meeting. I told him I was with Karis. He responded, "Oh, yeah - the 'In The City, For The City' folks!" That was deeply encouraging to me. Although we are in no way perfect, and we have so far we need to go, that slogan has been far more than words for us. It's our passion be a church that's a part of our city and seeks the good of our city.
In The City
We in Karis have no desire to hide out in our own Christian subculture. By God's grace, and in His strength, we desire to be the best possible citizens. We commit to being truly present, taking our lives and faith to our neighbors, coworkers, and classmates. We want to be in our parks, schools, and streets sharing and displaying the love of Jesus.
In addition, it's always been our vision to be a church in the heart of the city. More specifically, it's our desire to be a part of the downtown scene. We want to be a presence in the First Ward. We want to be "in the city." Although our current facility is on the outskirts of that target area, our prayer for our growing church is that God might bless us with a larger gathering place and mission center even closer to the heart of Columbia.
For The City
However, we desire far more than simply being present. We want to be a force for good. Too often Christians are seen as being critical of, and even hostile toward, the culture. We want to be culture makers, humbly seeking to contribute and even lead the way in the arts. We desire to pursue excellence in the workplace, fulfilling the callings God has given to us.
We also look to serve. There are needs we can help meet. There are hurts we can help heal. Sin has ravaged our world. We seek mercy for those suffering. We seek justice for those oppressed.
Our Missional Communities strive to equip their members to reach their neighbors. They also band together to serve our city. As a congregation, we work together to serve our city in bigger ways. For example, our Affordable Christmas event helps provide Christmas gifts to families in need.
A favorite passage of our church family has been Jeremiah 29. In verses 5-7, the Lord says this through His prophet:
"Build houses and live in them; plant gardens and eat their produce. 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. 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."
In other words, God says, "Plant roots." Be in the city. He says, "Spread peace." Be for the city. That's our desire for Karis Church in Columbia, Missouri, as well.