By Tom Avey
Folks in the South say “ya’ll.” In Pennsylvania, some say “you’uns.” I’ve even heard “you’s.” The plural “you” is a concept not communicated well in the English language. As a result we can be tempted to approach the New Testament as if it is all about Jesus and “me” when much of it is really about Jesus and “us.”
I grew up on Long Island. There are no Grace Brethren churches on Long Island, so how did I become Grace Brethren?
Officially, there are no individual persons who are members of the Fellowship of Grace Brethren Churches (FGBC). The FGBC is a legally incorporated association of churches. However the Brethren movement is a river of influence that has been flowing worldwide for 300 years.
My commitment to the FGBC is essentially the returning of a favor. Men like Jerry Young and Ed Jackson, both former Grace Brethren pastors, had profound influences on me. They were impacted by Alva J. McClain and others. I want to return the favor to the next generation. The FGBC consists of leaders passing on what they have learned. It is churches birthing new congregations, who return that favor in kind. It is a river.
My family moved near a Grace Brethren church in 1969 when I was 16. It was a brand-new church that began with help from Grace Brethren North American Missions. That congregation had a part in starting other churches. The decisions that I made there impact me every day of my life! The river flows.
The church is incredible. It cannot fail. The endgame is not to build the Fellowship of Grace Brethren Churches, but to be a healthy part of what God is doing through His Church – the body of believers. The FGBC is the part of that church where God has placed me. I will serve it.
R U a Grace Brethren? Come to the banks of a flowing river. Reach in with your cup and draw some water. Is that water in your cup a part of the river? Not any longer! Pour it back into that river. Now it is a part of the river. It is both influenced by and an influencer of the river.
The Grace Brethren river is committed to mission. It is a committed to community. It is a committed to the Bible. If you understand the New Testament call to the plural “you,” are willing to be influenced by this 300-year-strong river, and to impact those who come after you for the sake of the larger body of Christ, you R a Grace Brethren.
A former pastor, Tom Avey has been coordinator for the Fellowship of Grace Brethren Churches since 1989.