A pastor in our most recent Imagine Learning Community wanted to ensure that the last message his congregation heard before they left the building on Sunday morning was that they were being sent back into the world to be a blessing to their frontlines. To do this, he employed a benediction that was inspired by the former chaplain to the U.S. Senate, Richard Halverson:
You go nowhere by accident. Wherever you go, God is sending you. Wherever you are, God has put you there. God has a purpose in your being there. Christ who lives in you has something he wants to do through you where you are. Believe this and go in the grace and love and power of Jesus Christ.
The words are simple, but powerful. As the ‘gathered church’ is on the verge of becoming the ‘scattered church’, the pastor blesses the people in the name of Christ. Yet he does so not merely with words of comfort, but with explicit encouragement that God has a purpose for them wherever they may go throughout the week. ‘Nothing is an accident’ — so no opportunity should be wasted (Ephesians 5:16). As the walk in the power of the Spirit (Galatians 5:25), believers should expect that God will use them as He seeks to advance His purposes in the ordinary places of life.
The good news is that a ‘virtuous loop’ can be initiate with such a benediction. Over the course of the week, as the pastor interacts with members of his church, she should expect to hear stories of how God’s people ‘out there’ have been used to advance the Kingdom in their everyday lives. For example, the aforementioned pastor said that after using this benediction he received reports from the frontlines about the impact his congregation was having Monday through Saturday. A young architect in his congregation said, “I love to design beautiful things. I think about God’s goodness as I draw. Sometimes I get frustrated because my boss asks me to draw things that are more utilitarian and less excellent. In those times, I try to think of Christ’s servanthood and humility. It’s not easy, but it helps.” Another individual in his congregation, a dentist, takes the opportunity to silently but intentionally pray God’s blessings over his patients. He said, “It looks like I’m just working on their teeth but my patients have no idea how much I’m actually praying for them.”
As we share such stories with one another about how God has actively been working through His people throughout the week, it can become infectious. Other members of the congregation begin to look for how God may have been using them as well—or how He may want to in the future. In this way, the church lives into its call to be blessed in order to be a blessing (Genesis 12:2).