WHAT DOES SOZO MEAN?
The Greek word "sozo" was used over a hundred times in the New Testament and truly is an all-encompassing word often rendered to mean “save” or “saved.” But a closer look at the Bible shows us that salvation includes much more than just the forgiveness of sins. Bible scholars teach us that this tiny word, "sozo", means a whole bunch of awesome things. We learn that it means forgiveness, healing, and total deliverance through Christ’s saving power. In other words, sozo means being made whole through Jesus and the ability to receive abundantly from Him right now. Therefore, "sozo" truly is the meaning of life.
"Sozo" refers to the healing of our bodies, the protection of our minds, the deliverance of the souls, as well as financial prosperity. Many in the modern church have interpreted salvation only to be forgiveness of sins, but that’s a misrepresentation of what the Lord did. Forgiveness of our sins is certainly the centerpiece and we do not minimize this point. However, at the same time Christ died to purchase our redemption from sin, He also freed us from sickness, disease, depression, and poverty.
Jesus became poor so that we through His poverty might be made rich—abundantly supplied. Through Christ’s death, burial, and resurrection, God has provided everything we need in this life now AND in the life to come—forgiveness of sins, healing, deliverance, and prosperity. Isn’t God good!?
OUR LOCAL MISSION
We unite the body of Christ for outreach projects that improve the spiritual conditions of our community. The Sozo Group is a grass-roots, marketplace ministry that partners with Christian churches, community organizations and local businesses to unite the Kingdom of God. We desire to reach people with a clear gospel presentation, introducing the Biblical concept of sozo, which encompasses the protection of our minds, the healing of our bodies and the deliverance of our souls through Jesus Christ.
OUR VISION FOR
The Sozo Group publicizes and supports Christian programming and events that are offered in unity, outside the perimeters of a typical church service – most often accomplished through recreation, the arts, or business partnerships.
So far, the Dellwood Block Party has been our largest outreach initiative. In 2017, thirteen churches of varying denominations came together in unity for corporate fellowship, worship and to give back to the local community - raising thousands for Lockport Love, the Lockport Resource Center and the Lockport Food Pantries. Over 2,500 attended this event.
One of our most popular outreach programs is Peace by Piece (PBP) Ministries, aiming to create an awareness of God’s presence, involvement and concern in every piece of a woman’s life. Through the arts, we’re teaching women how to trust God with every little piece of their lives…so that they’re able to lead more peace-filled lives.
Our latest vision includes opening a Christian Coffee House, Perk Up in Lockport.
THE WHOLE CASE STATEMENT
POLITICAL & SOCIAL TRENDS
Many Americans claim to be uninspired by the typical church experience. Instead, families are choosing to participate in extracurricular activities that directly conflict with church services and programing. In many cases, churches are perceived as judgmental “religious country clubs” that are not focused on helping people achieve “sozo.” Our current culture discredits Biblical teaching and instead promotes self-centered “feel-good” ways of living. Further, many people who believe in Jesus Christ are not taught how to have a personal relationship with Him or that they can seek the Holy Spirit anytime for wisdom, truth, and guidance before making life decisions.
Implications: The challenge to reach the nonbeliever is high. The Sozo Group aims to reach both audiences: 1) those that are “far from faith” living in darkness, as well as 2) Christians who appear to be sleeping in the light. Many self-proclaimed “Christians” appear to live without hope and act oblivious to the peace and joy that’s possible when we follow Christ with an eternal perspective.
The Sozo Group desires to get the attention of mainstream media so that more Biblical truths can be shared with those living in our nation. Our goal is to make Jesus Christ epically famous in THIS day and age. To help nonbelievers realize there is no other Source that offers salvation (eternal life), healing, power, freedom, or unconditional love. That Jesus IS the only answer. The Sozo Group does not plan to wait for communities to visit local churches in order to possibly understand this truth; if so we would miss out on a large percentage of our target market. Instead, it’s time to take ‘the Church’ out into the marketplace.
TECHNOLOGICAL & ECONOMIC TRENDS
People are utilizing technology to seek more information about God.
People are watching videos, reading articles & blogs online, going to specific ministry websites and/or church social media pages, downloading or listening to Christian podcasts, sermons, song playlists, & eBooks, watching TV evangelists and looking up scriptures on their smart phones. Because of the breadth of resources already in existence, many learn “bits and pieces” of information about God yet remain unconvinced that being plugged into a local church or ministry is necessary for ongoing discipleship and support.
Implication: The Sozo Group desires to “bridge this gap” by educating believers online that they need both: ongoing discipleship from a local church/ministry and independent self-study. We are able to make referrals to reputable, partner churches and ministries.
Overall church attendance is declining in the United States.
The latest research indicates that less than 20 percent of Americans regularly attend church. Further, the average-sized American church (under 200 members) typically does not have a budget (or mindset) in place that is focused on local community outreach. For this reason, it makes perfect sense for churches to UNIFY their efforts when it comes to evangelism.
Implication: The Church’s needs are great. They need help identifying, training, and releasing individuals into their specific ministry callings so that they can serve at ministries that they’re already involved with. From there, “trained” disciples will apply what they’ve learned out in the marketplace. In the Bible, we notice God always reaching out in creative ways to those that did not know Him. He certainly did not wait for people to come inside a synagogue/church building in order to encounter Him. Instead, we know that Jesus is constantly in pursuit of us - especially out in the marketplace.
And while the local church remains vitally important, it’s only a small avenue of where ministry should be conducted. In contrast, the MARKETPLACE, which includes our homes, businesses, education, government, media, and arts/entertainment/sports…that’s where the majority of ministry will be conducted. Meaningful ministry comes through the power of personal invitation and a strong commitment to personal discipleship - and that happens when we naturally interact with family, co-workers, neighbors, and friends that know our personal stories. It’s us, as followers of Christ, who impact others with the help of the Holy Spirit.
And while God (and His Word) remain constant forever, the methods by which we “reach” people that the Bible determines to be "far from faith"… these methods will be constantly changing and evolving. Therefore, if we truly wish to reach the poor and destitute, the Church will need to open their hearts and minds as to what it REALLY looks like to interact and serve those in need within their own environment.
Church leaders play an extremely vital role of equipping the saints for the work of the ministry, but if that ministry only means offering the “standard” church programming, then the saints will not know how to partner with the Holy Spirit to actually make an impact in the dying world around them. According to research, most Christians interact, work, and in lot of cases live with unbelievers over 80 percent of the time.
The Sozo Group will involve itself in outreach methods that are outside the four walls of a traditional church building, essentially performing ministry out in the marketplace. Further, outreach events coordinated in unity will conserve resources and bring the Church community together in larger numbers, demonstrating spiritual maturity and credibility to the community as a whole. This is hugely important in order to impact those who currently question much of the religiousness and division that has occurred within the Christian faith.
SUGGESTED PROGRAMS & VISION FOR THE LOCAL COMMUNITY
It is our goal to offer creative and relevant outreach projects intended to benefit
the community at-large, change the spiritual climate and demonstrate the love of Jesus.
Block Parties & Local Concerts
Serving Local Missions
Creative Art Workshops & Events
Youth Recreation Opportunities
Family, Divorce & Parenting Groups
Celebrate Recovery, Grief Share Programs
Kingdom Infiltration Training for Leaders
Unity Prayer & Worship Services
These are ALL primary examples of opportunities to "be the church" in our local community in order to improve its spiritual condition. We intend to lift up ALL those who've lost hope due to their "circumstances"… that often involve issues of poverty, sickness, depression, addiction, and loneliness. We plan to introduce the concept of "SOZO" into our communities, which offers the hope they are looking for - salvation, healing, and deliverance through Jesus Christ. A decision for Christ is only the first step. From there, we intend to offer discipleship programs that would encourage new believers to plug into local churches/ministries for ongoing support.
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