“Jesus unrolled the scroll and found the place where it was written: ‘The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to bring good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim release to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to let the oppressed go free, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor’” (Luke 4:17b-19)
In last week’s Pastor Message,
I shared that the leadership of our congregation is currently engaged in a very rich and intentional discernment process about how to best move forward with renovating our campus for the sake of more effectively living out God’s mission. As we entered this process, we were reminded of the importance of grounding all of our decisions in our congregation’s mission and vision. As I wrote last week, “Who we are must determine what we do.”
The mission of our congregation remains the same—to be and make disciples of Christ, in response to God’s grace. Our mission begins with being disciples of Christ, but it does not end there. In addition to being disciples of Christ, our mission as St. John’s is to make disciples of Christ. There is a big difference between being and making.
I am reminded of a story a colleague of mine shared with me. He and his wife were vacating in Hawaii and they were sitting at an outdoor chicken sandwich shop enjoying their chicken sandwiches. An employee of the chicken sandwich shop came around to their table offering them and the other customers around them free samples of their chicken sandwiches. How ridiculous it was, however, to offer free samples of chicken sandwiches to customers who had already bought the chicken sandwiches! It is equally ridiculous for Christian churches to spend all of our time, effort, energy, and money on sharing the gospel with people who already know and believe the gospel. If we are truly going to live out our mission to make disciples of Christ, then we need to be investing our time, effort, energy, and money on going to, inviting, and welcoming those who aren’t yet disciples of Christ. Make sense?
So, how do we do that? How do we share the gospel with those who aren’t yet disciples of Jesus? While there is no one magic answer to this question, I think it begins by changing our focus. Instead of looking inward and asking the question, “How can the church serve me and my needs?,” we begin looking outward and asking the question, “How can the church serve and meet the needs of those who aren’t yet here?” From this initial question flow many others.
Is our campus welcoming, inviting, and easy to navigate for guests and visitors?
Are our ministries attentive to the guests and visitors who are with us?
How do we find accessible ways for newcomers to easily enter into ministry with us? Do we make room for them on our ministry teams, in our small groups, in our pews, at our fellowship tables?
Is the primary point of Sunday morning fellowship to catch up with friends we already know or to share hospitality with those we have not yet met?
Do our worship services make it easy for newcomers to participate or do they get lost along the way?
How do we take the good news of Jesus outside the walls of St. John’s, both in word and in actions?
Are we equipping our disciples to share their faith with others and to invite them to join us in worship?
How can we make sure that those from different racial, ethnic, and socioeconomic backgrounds feel and experience the love and welcome of Christ in this place?
Personally, I really enjoy the chicken sandwiches that St. John’s offers. In fact, I think the chicken sandwiches we offer are so good that we need to be sharing them with others. How can we share our chicken sandwiches with those who have not yet tasted them? How can we share the good news of Jesus and participation in the Jesus community known as St. John’s with those who are not yet here?
Being and making disciples of Christ. It’s who we are and it determines what we do . . . for the sake of the gospel.
Called by God’s GRACE+